Thursday 19 May 2016
Appledore to Clovelly
Pillowery Park Guest House, Burscott
Porridge with drinking chocolate powder mixed in it made for a good breakfast as I packed my tent away. It was 9 am when I set off down into Appledore and around Northam Burrows. I had intended to camp again tonight but closer investigation revealed the only campsite within any decent range had closed last year. Fortunately it wasn’t hard to find a reasonably priced B&B with space for me.
This spit of low-lying land seems to be stuck onto the end of the cliff that leads up to Bideford. It is protected by a pebble ridge that is made from rocks ripped from the Hartland cliffs and moved here by long-shore drift.
The burrows sticks out into the Rivers Taw and Torridge estuary. Opposite me, at Braunton Burrows, the Royal Marines were playing with their landing craft again.
As I walked along the wide, sandy beach to Westward Ho! on a grey school day I was amazed how busy it was. I saw a kite buggy, two land yachts, kites, loads of kids having surfing lessons and yet more kids rock pooling.
I stopped in Westward Ho! (such a brilliant place name) for a second breakfast: coffee and a bacon and egg bap. I needed the energy for the next section as it was quite tough; up and down the cliffs.
It was a fairly grey day but I could make out Lundy Island and it seemed to be in the middle of Bideford Bay, albeit 19 miles offshore. I could also see both ends of Bideford Bay: Baggy Point to the East and Hartland Point to the West. It was low tide and the rock striations at the base of the cliffs were similar to those on the other side of the Bristol Channel.
It started raining at midday but it was too warm, and too much effort required up the hills, to wear a waterproof so I just got wet. It wasn’t long before I was back in the trees that cover the cliffs. The woods on the Devon cliffs are so old and beautiful, and I have been lucky to see them when they have been carpeted with bluebells.
I reached Buck’s Mills, a tiny settlement in a cleft in the cliff. The houses were crammed in and there was an old artist’s retreat, a cabin, sat right next to the water.
Three miles out from Clovelly I found myself on The Hobby Drive. I marvelled at the fact that this cobbled road, built 200 years ago, had survived all this time partway down a cliff in the woods. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of the quaintness that is Clovelly.
I had never heard of Clovelly but it seemed like lots of foreigners have as I passed many on my way down the narrow, very steep, cobbled street into the village.
What a place, locked in the 1800s. It was built by a rich family in the 1700s and has retained its olde-worlde charm that drew in the tourists 200 years ago. I particularly liked all the homemade sledges that are still used to transport stuff into and out of the village, sometimes pulled by hand and sometimes by donkeys.
It was a bit too much of a tourist Mecca for me but I still walked to the bottom for a half of Clovelly Cobbler in the Red Lion pub. I also bought the most over-priced crab sandwich ever.
It had been a long day and I had to walk all the way up the steep cliff side, through Wrinkleberry (another brilliant name) and across the field to my B&B at Burscott. The rain had slackened off, until 5 minutes before I reached my destination. I arrived soaked. Fortunately I didn’t have to go out again as the rain and fog came in for the night. I was glad I wasn’t camping.