Sunday walking in Devonport is always pleasant but it's not until you really get to know the neighbourhood that it surprises you.
Today, we'll explore the Navy's footprint on the peninsula with some notable exceptions, such as North Head. That's an outing in itself.
Parking outside the new Navy Museum at the foot of North Head, we walk briskly east towards the village along King Edward Parade. At 8am on a breezy, fine Sunday the streets are almost empty and my jaded appreciation of Devonport's old-world charm is reawakened. I get an echo of the way it must have been. We bypass the village and continue along the waterfront on Queens Parade, wind whipping small whitecaps on the harbour, high clouds portending a change of weather.
Ten minutes past the ferry building we reach the gates of Devonport Naval Base, HMNZS Philomel.
We can go no further, so turn right up the path and steep stairs that lead to Calliope Rd. Running as a spine along what is known today as Stanley Point, Calliope Rd has many naval associations. The land was named Calliope Point in 1846 after a visiting naval ship. The dock bears the same name. Coincidentally, the first ship to dock there in 1888 was a later version of the HMS Calliope.
At the top of the stairs we pause beside the NZ Cadet Building. What we don't know is that under our feet is a tunnel that connects the base's two parts. The part beside the Waitemata we have already passed, the other half is where we are heading.
Before that we stride along Calliope Rd, and opposite picturesque Stanley Bay Beach and wharf we enter Stanley Bay Park. Instead of crossing it and circumnavigating the naval sports ground, we exit by a previously unexplored walkway.
This takes us to Glen, then Waterview roads, and at the right-angle bend where Waterview becomes William Bond St we turn left down an unsignposted path beneath two huge phoenix palms. Once again, the Navy is with us. A covered footbridge leads us right over part of the base and we look down on the activity below to where, I'm told, the tunnel exits.
Turning right and walking in the lee of tall white walls, we reach Patuone Ave, then Jim Titchener Parade. Crossing about 200 metres down, I find the unmarked footbridge I am looking for, almost hidden in the mangroves. It leads us up a narrow track to the harbour end of Abbotsford Tce.
At the far end of this street I find what I suspect is the pedestrian and cycle link to Lake Rd. Time is running out and we fairly sprint back along Lake Rd, around the foot of Mt Victoria, up over the hill at Kerr St and back to the Navy Museum and its smart cafe.