Port Gaverne near Port Isaac.
I don't remember much about this section of the walk. The guide book rates it as "severe" and I guess I had my head down as I struggled to overcome the steep ups and downs of the headlands. I didn't even take any photographs. I made it to my destination, Port Gaverne where I stayed for the night. I had already decided that I should visit with my cousin at this point because I was moving further and further away from their home in Chagford, Devon. After the past few days of walking I was looking forward to a break, a comfortable bed and an opportunity to meet up with Vivienne and Martin in their new home in Chagford.
Another day of good weather. Only a short walk - 4.6mi (7.4km). It was good to visit Tintagel again after more than fifty years. The last time was when I was at college and I was courting Jenny. I rented a car and we toured around Cornwall - much easier than walking!
The estuary at Bude
Today was a wonderful day for hiking along the path. The sun was shining, the sea and the sky were blue and the views were clear. Even better, the first part of the walk was easy going so I could enjoy all of the benefits that the coast had to offer.
Just past Widemouth Bay the path changed from "easy" to "strenuous" as indicated in the south west coast path guide book. Looking down at Widemouth Bay I could see the cliffs and headlands looming in the distance. More of a challenge than the morning but, with the good weather, an opportunity to experience the grandeur of this stretch of coastline.
Looking back towards Widemouth Bay with Bude in the distance.
More ponies roaming the cliff tops.
The end of a good day.
A day of problems created by another senior moment. I planned to ride the bus from Hartland Quay to Morwenstow and then walk to Bude because the total distance to Bude was 24.8km and the weather was still quite poor. I checked with the lady who was at reception about the bus schedule and we found a bus was leaving in the morning that would stop at Morwenstow and she volunteered to drive me up to the bus stop. We arrived at the bus stop with time to spare but after I got out of the car with my gear the locals who were at the bus stop saw me looking at the bus schedule and asked me which bus I wanted. I told them the bus I needed and they informed me that it didn't operate on Wednesdays because that was the market day in another town and they needed all of the busses for the market customers. So I decided to get the bus to a connection where I thought I could then get a bus to Morwenstow. Unfortunately shortly after riding on the bus I realised that I had left my good Nalgene water bottle in the bus shelter.
So a change of plans. Now I was going to go to Bideford where I could catch the bus back to Hartland, pick up my water bottle and then return to Bideford to catch a bus to Bude. No chance of any walking but, as the weather was still wet and grey I wasn't too upset. As it turned out my journey was extensive and I saw a great deal of North Devon. There wasn't any bus from Bideford directly to Bude so I had to go to a bus stop in Holsworthy along the Exeter to Bude route and change busses. Eventually I arrived at Bude and settled in for the night.
You'll have to forgive me if I don't seem to be too enthusiastic about this day. As you can see from the pictures above, the weather was depressing - grey, foggy, drizzle and rain all mixed together to test my perseverance. The first picture is the church tower in Stoke Barton. Stoke Barton is a very small village in between Hartland and Hartland Quay but towering above the cottages is this large church tower. Somehow it seemed disproportionate to me or perhaps it showed how the importance of the village has diminished over the years.
My destination, Hartland Quay, was a bleak spot aptly described as having a wonderful remote atmosphere with a pub and a hotel. The pub and hotel were very welcoming and they went out of their way to make my overnight stay a pleasant experience.
I'm not sure why it's called Hartland Quay because it is a rugged cove with no possible spot to build a safe quay.
South Molton to Clovelly.
Today started with a ride into Barnstaple where caught the bus to Westward Ho! From there I walked to Clovelly. The weather was overcast and grey and the path went through several wooded areas so the views were not particularly inspiring. The same can't be said for Clovelly. In the words of the guide book, "Clovelly is probably one of the most picturesque villages in England." In spite of the less than perfect weather the village still showed off its unique charm. The street down to the harbour is very steep and is not suitable for vehicular traffic so any deliveries to the houses are made by sleds that slide down the cobbled road. I stayed at the New Inn about half way down to the harbour.
Westward Ho! to South Molton.
Today turned out to be an unexpected return to Jenny's cousin in South Molton. The reason for the existence of such a grand hotel in such a strange location became apparent as I left the hotel. The parking lot was full of tour busses from different places in England.
After a good night at the hotel in Northam I packed up my backpack and caught the bus back to Westward Ho! As the bus was travelling along I suddenly had a sinking feeling that I had left my SPOT personal locator beacon back in the the hotel room. When I arrived at Westward Ho! I searched through my backpack and, sure enough, there was no sign of my SPOT. I contacted the hotel and asked them to look in my room and to let me know if they found it there. Very shortly after making that phone call my phone rang and Sue called to ask how I was doing. I told her that I wasn't doing very well because I had left my SPOT behind in the hotel and I was waiting for them to confirm that they has found it - could I spend another night with them? With no hesitation Sue said she would come and get me but it would be later in the day because she had other things to do first. So, while I was waiting, I explored Westward Ho! checking out the first part of the walk I would have to do when I eventually left the town and then exploring the opposite end of the seafront where all of the entertainment activities are located. Eventually I determined that the hotel had found my SPOT and when Sue arrived we drove back to the hotel so that I could recover it. From there we went back to South Molton for a second, very enjoyable visit.
South Molton to Barnstaple to Croyde to Braunton
After a comfortable night at Jenny's cousin's house in South Molton, Sue drove me to Barnstaple where I got the bus to Croyde. I walked from Croyde to Braunton and took the bus again to Westwatd Ho! so that I avoided the long, dreary walk through Barnstaple. Besides I visited the area over 50 years ago when Jenny did her teaching practice in Barnstaple. Along the walk I passed a house under construction for Dyson of the vacuum cleaner fame. It seemed to have an unusual design which when finished would not be dissimilar to one of his vacuums. Further on I walked right along and through a golf course and then by Saunton Sands before arriving at Braunton.
Once I arrived at Braunton I took the bus to Barnstaple and then to Westward Ho! my intended destination for the night. Unfortunately I couldn't find any accommodation in Westward Ho! As I found out as I looked for a bed for the night, there was a big wedding taking place and everywhere was fully booked. One of the places that I tried suggested that I try The Durrant Hotel in Northam just a short bus ride away. I took this advice and contacted the hotel and, much to my relief, I was able to book a room for the night. As you can see from the picture below it was a pretty fancy hotel so I felt a little out of place turning up in my hiking gear with a big backpack on my back but I had a good night in a comfortable bed.
Lynton to Barnstaple to South Molton.
I left Lynton by bus with the intention of bypassing Barnstaple in order to miss a dreary walk around the estuary and through Barnstaple. While I was on the bus I saw a sign for South Molton where Jenny's cousin, Sue, lives so when I reached Barnstaple bus station I called Sue and she came and picked me up. I stayed with them for the next day and left all of my cooking gear with them in order to lighten my load.
I'm a grandfather who lost an infant granddaughter and who wants to help Gillian, her mother, provide support for other grieving parents through Hazel's Heroes.