Friday 13 May 2016
Combe Martin to Ilfracombe
Pete’s house (Nicki’s friend)
Another hot day but this one had a clear blue sky and non-stop sunshine. Such a beautiful day to undertake a lovely walk.
Despite my late night I was up early as it was already roasting hot in my tent by 8 am. Before setting off, Andreas made me a nice cup of loose leaf tea in a cafetière; needs must in a campervan.
Bernadette and I walked together today. The guys were completing another stretch and then driving to meet us in Ilfracombe; however, I had other plans so would be separating from the developing group today. I was happy with that because, although I like everyone, I’m not ready to bend my trip to the whims of others. I had felt like a “traveller” the last couple of days and I’m not sure I would want that to be the norm.
The views across Widmouth Head and Water Mouth were incredible; such a stunning landscape.
We laboured up and down the steep hills in the burning sunshine and came down into Hele Bay (pronounced heel). There was a cafe here and we stopped for an ice cream and a coffee. We also had a good chat with the owners and got a tip to head for the Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe.
Due to our late start and slow amble on a hot day it was after 3 pm when we crested Hillsborough and stopped to admire the fabulous view across Ilfracombe harbour and town.
St Nicholas Seamen’s Chapel stood prominent atop Lantern Hill on the pier, and Damien Hirst’s statue ‘Verity’ also stood out.
We walked around the quayside and climbed Capstone Hill on the other side of the town for another viewpoint. The rather unusual-looking Landmark Theatre also grabs your attention with its conical design.
Finally we made it to the entrance to the Tunnels Beaches. In 1823 the locals employed Welsh miners to tunnel through the rock to the small, shale coves beyond. They dug 4 tunnels by hand and then built 3 tidal pools below the cliffs (Victorian men and women did not bathe together). The tunnels and the ladies’ pool have been preserved and were open for use.
A swim was just what I needed after a hot, sweaty walk. There were a number of people on the beach but only one person in the sea. It was freezing; I got pins and needles in my feet. But it was wonderful and very refreshing.
After a quick swim we had to leave as Andreas and John arrived to pick up Bernadette and Pete was waiting for me. I said goodbye to the others and walked back to Pete’s house. It had been 9 hot and humid days since my clothes had last seen inside a washing machine and I was so grateful to Pete for letting me wash all my kit.