What a week with three named storms in quick succession. First Dudley on Thursday, then Eunice with the highest gust every recorded followed by Franlin on Sunday night, writes Sarah Buck

Getting in just before the storms the Wednesday and Thursday groups both chose the River Dart for their walks, but on different sides of the river. The Wednesday A walk starting in Dittisham already experienced strong winds and disappointingly, on this scenic walk, reduced visibility. Having ensured all fourteen walkers were together Peter T led the group up to Fire Beacon Hill.

On top of the hill a six metre high post, supporting a fire brazier, was reconstructed in 1988 on the 400th anniversary of the Spanish Armada. It was part of a network of 430 beacons which could relay a message of invasion from here to the Midlands in under for hours. It is understood that the area is still owned by the descendants of Sir Walter Raleigh and he was the person responsible for the siting and firing of the beacons.

Dropping down to river level the group walked alongside picturesque Old Mill Creek with its many boatyards including one old stone structure amongst the modern buildings. Crossing over Old Mill Bridge, a well preserved example of a small late 17th or early 18th century arched bridge the other side of the creek was followed into Sandquay Wood. Grade II listed Hermitage Castle (originally The Fort) was soon reached.

This circular stone structure, which originally had four storeys, was built by John Seale in 1789 and was used not as a castle or a fort was actually a bathing house. Although never intended for defensive purposes there were originally nine cannons on a wall beside the main building.

Paddle steamer Kingswear Castle, the UK’s only coal fired paddle steamer, built in 1924 by local boat builders Philip and Son with engines dating from 1904, made an attractive sight in the creek.

Heading back towards Dittisham there was a fair amount of hill climbing, but the carefully chosen route provided shelter from the wind.

This was until the last hill where there was no shelter and the wind was directly behind the walkers. Usually a benefit to assist the hill climb, this time the wind was gale force and the normally grassy surface had been churned up by sheep to form a field of slick red mud. Everyone was very pleased to reach shelter in Dittisham and only one person slipped over!

On Thursday Andrew led a walk from Galmpton to Churston, pausing to look at the trains before walking to Greenway and the River Dart. One of the most stunning local views is looking over the river towards Dartmouth and a fallen tree provided a great place to stop and enjoy the view.

Many people have learned to sail on the river Dart including a generation of three great Devonian explorers. Sir Humphrey Gilbert who in 1583 took possession of New Found Land as it is termed on a plaque in St John’s, Newfoundland; his half-brother Sir Walter Raleigh and John Davis who discovered the Falkland Islands in 1592 and explored the North West passage. His name is commemorated by the Davis Strait between Greenland and Baffin Island.

The six mile walk was completed by returning via Higher Greenway Farm. The farm buildings were built in about 1850 and form an interesting, good and complete example of a planned farmstead around three sides of a stock yard. T

he long bank barn on the south side once contained a large steam engine which needed a square stone and brick chimney. The chimney is still there and makes an odd site within the agricultural buildings.

Also on Wednesday and not far away, Mike and Maggie led a two and a half mile walk around Goodrington followed by lunch at the Inn on the Quay. The weather was damp and windy, but the flowers were lovely, Paignton harbour was full of boats and the Holocaust Memorial Garden thought provoking.

For more information about the many other walks offered by Newton Abbot & District Ramblers see www.newtonabbotramblers.org and come along and enjoy good company.