Hike and Spear UK - South Devon
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Where to start, South Devon is located in the South West of the UK and its the Coast Line that I grew up on and in, its where I learnt to spearfish at the age of 13, as soon as I had my first taste of it I was absolutely hooked.
Originally meant to be an 11 day trip I wrapped it up early due to drowning my GoPro on the 8th Day. With no camera and a dwindling iPhone battery it would have been silly to continue on if something bad occurred I wouldn't have been able to call for help.
So whilst I wait for rules to change to go see my family and friends before returning to Australia I decided to go on a trip after the government announced unlimited exercise during covid it was like a wet dream come true. I grabbed my bag loaded up and buggared off into the wild for some pure isolation, giving true meaning to the words social distancing. A little bit of background for those of you who don’t know me personally this is my back yard! Devonshire is the best county in the UK by a long shot because i grew up here. Blessed with a north coast and south coast i chose the south coast as thats where i spent the bulk of my free time when not in Dartmoor National Park.
Anyway back to the Hike.
Today was supposed to be a short hike with double dives but due to a ferry not operating i had to walk up to Yealmpton and then back down towards Noss Mayo this consumed lots of time.
After breakfast and packing up camp, i made my way up and down cliff after hill after cliff. The sun was scorching and definitely began to drain the energy out of me. I was hoping to have a good rock pool forage at Mothecombe but apart from a couple of undersize crabs i didn’t manage to find anything of edible value. Todays main objective was to cross the estuary before the tide came through so today i focused on that.
Once i got across i decided to just hang out on the beach thinking through potential dishes and just enjoying myself. I did also manage to forage some Fern New-growth, Wild Fennel, Sea Beet and Rock Samphire again for some dinner, which i enjoyed lightly pan fried with some soy and chilli flakes the result was a delicious veggie dish. I eventually came across this perfect little beach with a nice quiet cove with fresh water running near by... Perfect! I went to sleep excited to spearfish in the morning hopefully for some Bass! Today i hiked 11.8miles which was pretty good given the amount of time i just pondered over life at the beach
The morning was perfect, as the sun came up i put on my wettie and headed into to the water with Bass on the brain. Initially I stumbled into a Pollock which i couldnt help taking for the bag as I dont know if this could be my only options for lunch or dinner and after not diving yesterday i decided to continue spearfishing to find a Bass.
After coming across lots of some undersize little buggars finally my luck changed as i had these three legal bass storm me as whilst upsidedown i chose the biggest of the three and made my shot. (Not bad for upside down aiming) After my gear dried off i made my way to near bigbury ready to cross the estuary before the tide put a hold to my movements for the day. I had the pollock for lunch as sashimi (this is really risky as worms can be quite common in fish in the UK so typically freeze the fish for atleast 12 hours before you eat them) I had already decided i would deworm post trip due to my love of sashimi but wouldnt recommend unless doing a similar trip).
My nose got alittle burnt in the evening (own bloody fault always take a hat and sunscreen) For the Bass which i had in the evening i panfried skin down to bring up a crispy skin as much as i could in the sea to summit bowl, It didnt crisp to my well known standard of crispy skin but it tasted perfect just with alittle salt and pepper. My side dish for the bass i had sustainably carefully collected sea lettuce, once washed i mixed through some soy and chili flakes in a bowl BOOM instant seaweed salad with nearly no effort.
7.8 miles covered today and ready for bed post washing up, the weather and vis was perfect! Oh and because i spend 10-15 mins at the end of my dive collecting rubbish from the ocean, Poseidon will often return a thank you... today i found a pair of in near perfect shape Ray Bans
I woke up to a beautiful morning and had some oats for breakfast, remember i packed 10 x 85g of oats into my backpack. I basically did this after a previous Hike and Spear in Australia were the amount of carbs i consumed during the hike wasn’t sufficient for the carbs burnt from hiking and spearfishing. Anyway today i decided to stay put, my hayfever was in full bloom which was awesome... as i had gained a blocked nose this became immediately apparent once i had entered the water and my first dive down with a huge amount of pressure building up behind my nose... nice one overreactive immune system preventing me from holding deeper dives.
The wind was pumping across my back which made me feel pretty cold within minutes (i know im just as surprised as you are i didnt know i got cold). Luckily i found a school of Bass made a shot from above as i couldnt dive down and then got out for some sashimi on the beach with soy, yuzu and wasabi.
On my way out i cut some fresh kelp as it was in sheer abundance at this location. I dried the kelp out on my fins taking the time to turn them over a few times in the day in order to make some dashi for my miso soup for dinner. This was a quick dashi as the kelp was only in the sun for around 10 hours, either way it was worth a try. I put the dried kelp into water brought it to the boil then shut off the gas and removed the kelp. (Dashi Done) I had collected some gutweed and sea lettuce for miso soup which i added to once the miso paste had dissolved. The day was near an end and i had throughly enjoyed myself, however i knew i would have to make up for it tomorrow with some extra hiking miles. I will be dropping a video every week for at least the next 2 months so stay tuned.
I finally decided it was time to leave my lovely little beach and hit the road. I swung by a local post office to pick up a couple of supplies, these were mainly ingredients for some recipes i had thought up over the past couple of days. They were: Malt Vinegar, 500g Spaghetti, some bread rolls, hay-fever tablets, 1 bag of sweets and a cold drink. This was the half way point of my intended 10/11 day trip and i was due a little celebration. I made my way from Thurlestone to Salcombe with the intention of diving for lunch at a spot i had found whilst growing up.
I came across an adder on the path. This is the UK’s most venomous snake. We often joke that you could get bitten and wait 2 weeks before thinking of going to the doctors. But it is a beautiful creature non the less. I hadnt seen one since I was around 16 when like something off a western movie one slithered out of a rams skull on Dartmoor. (Nothing on some of the snakes we encounter in Australia) Anyway after lots of stunning scenery and a quick glimpse of a sand lizard (too quick for the camera) i finally ended up in Salcombe. I climbed down to the beach after nearly 6 hours of hiking and had my plans destroyed as i discovered a group of dickheads not from the area throwing bottles against rocks.
Deciding not to take the risk of leaving my bag near them whilst diving i pressed on. Foraging whilst walking through Salcombe was pretty fun i picked up some Wild Fennel, Wild Garlic and later Fern Saplings. I managed to get a cheeky lift across to East Portlemouth as the ferry service was closed. Onwards i continued to near East Prawle, where i decided it was time to settle for the night and the terrain looked good for diving. Tired with blisters forming i whipped up a quick veggie bolognese using the ingredients i had collected along the way. This was my only meal that day except some snacks. 17.8 miles completed today and i passed out in bed before 9... Dreaming of the beach i had missed out on spearfishing, never mind this beach could be good tomorrow Stay tuned for Episode 6 dropping next week. For a Spearfishing, Hiking and Adventure to see new videos weekly
Stay Wet Stay Fed
The day started with an epic sunrise but i actually woke up from the heat of the day on the tent. Another blue sky day and the wind had finally began to drop off. After spending the entire day hiking yesterday i decided today was another lazy beach day. What did i do? I chilled on the sand going over a million thoughts and ideas as i always do before finally letting go of them all and finding pure relaxation... basically a nice way of saying i fell asleep at the beach. When i started to get a little peckish, wetsuit went on, mask on and into the water, i had some big bass insight today but they were often just travelling by near the speed of light and not interested in the Wet Mammal hidding amonst the seaweed. I saw the pollock and decided to take the shot as it wasnt worth the risk of no lunch. After i attached him to the float i searched for new territory and in doing so saw this flatfish swimming across rocky ground with the wrong camouflage for the job. Ill save the funny part for the video. But i shot and took what then revealed to be a Plounder! Absolutely thrilled with the Plounder as i havent ever eaten or speared one before i hopped out of the water to cook up a quick lunch. What was on the menu? Plounder Baps! From the baps and vinegar i treated myself to the day before i made a fish bap for not just lunch but also dinner. After this i returned the my important task of laying around in the sun. I did wash my gear and boil off some stream water for drinking too 🙂 I lost some footage and not sure what happened Tomorrow id aim to cover more miles Subscribe, comment, share and like the hell out of this vid! 🤙🏼
Excellent start to the day another beautiful morning, but it is time to get a few more miles under my belt and keep pushing onward... cant be a beach bum all week right? As you can see the weather continues with excellence. I finally come across some Sea Kale but unfortunately there is only one plant given the low numbers of these plants particularly in certain areas i was reluctant to take anything from it. A great shame but protecting these plants over individual greed is certainly more important and who knows that spot may have 2 next year. Im continued to be blown away by my beautiful home county, i have always said this is the best part of the country... try and convince otherwise. As i arrive at my beach of choice (i shan’t name this one as its one of my few secret beaches in South Devon 🤪). Before getting in the water i had to work out roughly how big my cooking pot/bowl is to insure that i could fit a crab in it. The spider crabs i normally get are monsters of the deep they would be too big for my pot. I bagged a nice pollock and was hoping to see Bass as this spot is usually pretty good for them. Sadly i did not sight any so grabbed a spider crab for the way home. I cooked the crab up on the rocks in two batches one for the legs and claws and the other for the body. Then much like a caveman i used a rock to bash the shell to pick at the meat. SENSATIONAL! After cleaning up i used the pollock frame as bait in a rockpool before going to bed hoping to catch either a lobster or crab in the morning.
The adventure continues, i started the day waking up to discover my power bank had officially ran out of power over night, with my GoPro and phone on there finally charge and two spare full GoPro Batteries i went into ultra battery conservation mode. I caught a nice size velvet swimming crab which i cooked up along with yesterday’s pollock for breakfast. As you will see from the videos i dont ever really stick to my plans. I pack up my gear and head around start point with the intention of getting in the water, today the seals were over active so instead of disturbing them i decided just to film them from above.
Much like Forest Gump once i start walking i dont seem to stop, i walked past a few good dive spots from my teenage years and made my way around to Hallsands. I suited up and jumped in the water on the scout for scallops, whilst i couldn’t find any of the little delicious buggars i decided to swim further out in search of new ground and maybe a big boy bass. Whilst down at depth holding my breath i heard a loud continuous beep from the GoPro. I knew exactly what that meant and bolted to the surface. I removed my mask and sure enough the dive suit for the GoPro was full of water. Had i been in shallower water the GoPro would have survived through it as they are waterproof naked to 10 meters. With dwindling iphone battery and no gopro i decided to call the trip to an end, I was as you can imagine abit gutted but genuinely i had such an amazing trip with sensational weather i didnt even mind that much. Huge thanks to my brother for driving all the way to pick me up on short notice 🤙🏼 Another perk to wrapping up the laws had changed slightly regarding covid and i can finally go and visit my 2 month old Nephew for the first time! 😆😆😆 I do hope everyone has enjoyed this series almost as much as i enjoyed the trip. Lots of funny moments, great food & stunning locations to be seen.
Thank you The Wet Mammal