Sunday, 15 June 2014

Hot and Sunny - Westward from Westward Ho!

Day Seven - Westwood Ho! to Exmansworthy 24.5km (15.2 miles).
Time on route 7:15hrs, walking time 6:45hrs.

Sunday 14 June 2014

Day 7 map
Today my husband, Rog, joined me for a stage. We parked at Clovelly and took the bus to Abbotsham from where we walked to Westward Ho! to pick up the route. Due to the vagaries of the bus timetable we didn't start walking until 1155, which was a couple of hours later than I'd have preferred. But hey ho. Or, rather, hey ho! as they'd say in Westward Ho! It was a beautifully sunny day and we enjoyed the views of the beach which I'd totally missed last week. Approaching Westward Ho! from the north east the coast path follows the golf course edge and the dunes hide the sea views.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  1 Leaving Westward Ho! (1)
Once again, a footprint to find. Shame I'd somehow knocked the camera dial to black and white mode. And, yes, I really must think about replacing my aged walking boots...
14 06 14 Day 7 -  1 Leaving Westward Ho! (2)
The path initially follows the old Westward Ho! to Bideford railway. Not quite sure why the railway to Bideford is west of Westward Ho! (scratches head). After strolling past a set of creatively designed beach huts - my favourite one named "Jabba the" - we started climbing. It is quite wonderful looking back across Bideford Bay knowing that you've walked every metre of that coastline.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  1 Leaving Westward Ho! (4)
The majority of the day was spent on paths like this, twisting and turning, ascending and descending through woodlands.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  2 Woodland (1)
The first day I've walked in a tshirt and skort.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  2 Woodland (2)
It was a hot day and the climbing/descending in the heat was hard work. But it doesn't matter when you have such picturesque views, such as this one down into Bucks Mills.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  3 Bucks Mills
For the last few km into Clovelly the path is easy, following Hobby Drive. As we neared the viewpoint we bumped into a couple of fellow walkers. But not just any fellow walkers, I had previously met this couple on Day 2, from Porlock Weir to Lynmouth in March. What a bizarre coincidence! Considering that we were both walking the route on a very adhoc basis, the chances of meeting them again was pretty small. I wonder if we'll ever meet again?
14 06 14 Day 7 -  4 Clovelly (2)
Clovelly from the viewpoint.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  4 Clovelly (1)
We contemplated walking down into Clovelly for a cup of tea. However it was 1700 (tea shop closing hour?) and it was a 15 min walk off the coast path and back up. We decided to come back and explore Clovelly some other day. It is, by all accounts, a memorable village although I wonder if it will blow my 'this is too quaint/toursity' barometer? Particularly the donkey ride thing. Vehicles are banned from the village so residents have to sledge their shopping up and down the steep slope. Not sure that'd be my idea of fun in a rainstorm.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  4 Clovelly (3)
At this juncture Rog split off to get the car and I ploughed on westwards. It was already 1715 but as it was still light I wanted to bag another few km.

Just west of Clovelly the woods host a few follies. This one, with carved wooden angel's wings, dates from 1826.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  5 Clovelly to Windbury Head (1)
14 06 14 Day 7 -  5 Clovelly to Windbury Head (2)
Once up onto the cliff tops the views back to Westward Ho! (yes, that little dot on the edge of the bay) were fantastic and reminded me that, indeed, I was making progress.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  5 Clovelly to Windbury Head (3)
The path continued to wind up and down. Coming down into Mouth Mill, Lundy is directy ahead.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  5 Clovelly to Windbury Head (4)
I had my first cow encounter for a few stages, and my first ever alone. I was pleased not to break for cover and managed to get past not just one but two fields of cows. Isn't it sad that I consider this an achievement?!
14 06 14 Day 7 -  5 Clovelly to Windbury Head (6)
It was quite a slog in places under the glare of the sun. Even more so when the path is verdantly overgrown, so much so that you have to push your way through the ferns to proceed.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  5 Clovelly to Windbury Head (8)
Looking back towards Mouth Mill and the Blackchurch Rock and arches.  Amazing geology around here.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  6 Blackchurch Road and Mouth Mill (2)
It's a lonely old path out there at times. But I am totally adoring it. I'm hooked.
14 06 14 Day 7 -  8 To Exmansworthy (1)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Tarmac Trudging and Estuarine Explorations

Day Six - Barnstaple to Westwood Ho! 30.7km (19.1 miles).
Time on route 6:40hrs, walking time 6:10hrs.

Saturday 07 June 2014

 Day 6 map
I completed my longest distance today and at my fastest average speed (5kph) - aided and abetted by a serious lack of any altitude on the route.

It wasn't a cheery start. As I left Barnstaple I overtook some fellow SWCP walkers in the rain. The forecast was for a mainly dry day but this is Britain after all and you never quite know...
14 06 07 Day 6 - 1 Barnstaple to Fremlington (1)
I confess to not having looked forward to this section of the coastpath. Straight, long, tarmaced stretches are not my idea of fun. But at least some of the sections had estuarine views.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 1 Barnstaple to Fremlington (4)
It was a tad dull. I started singing to myself and then getting stupidly excited at the prospect of a corner a few kms in.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 1 Barnstaple to Fremlington (5)
But there was nothing more thrilling than another tarmaced path round the bend.  Part of me wanted to break into a jog to get it over and done with, but I knew that would use up too much energy too soon.  I'm not moaning, it's just not as stimulating as hills, coves and cliffs.  However, sharing this section with the Tarka Trail gives some good art.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 1 Barnstaple to Fremlington (6)
And some cyclists for company.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 1 Barnstaple to Fremlington (7)
One hour down and I came to Fremlington Station.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 2 Fremlington (1)
The cafe called me in (you know how it is) and I stopped for a few minutes for a pot of tea with a lovely view.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 2 Fremlington (2)
Anyway, refreshed I marched off. Scene look familiar?
14 06 07 Day 6 - 3 Fremlington to Islay Marsh (2)
Anyway, Chivenor had obviously heard me and to prevent more singing from boredom, the RAF laid on a SAR demo. They were training over the Taw Estuary hovering over the water then rising, completing a circle and going back to water level again. And again.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 3 Fremlington to Islay Marsh (4)
More Tarka art.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 3 Fremlington to Islay Marsh (5)
Eventually the Tarka Trail and the SWCP parted company and I headed off over a dyke west of Islay Marsh.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 4 Taw Estuary  (3)
Walking this stretch bought me very close to my last section; I remember walking past the white house a couple of weeks ago.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 4 Taw Estuary  (5)
The rain was holding off quite nicely now and I was rueing the fact that I'd left my sunglasses in the car.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 4 Taw Estuary  (6)
14 06 07 Day 6 - 5 Instow (1)
The predicted diversion around Instow Beach never appeared so I followed the original SWCP route along the beach edge. There were great views of Appledore in the sun and I enjoyed watching the yacht race in the Torridge Estuary.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 5 Instow (2)
There was little evidence of the damage caused by the winter's storms. However, it was clear that the road alongside Instow is frequently closed due to heavy seas.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 5 Instow (4)
The SWCP guide book states that if you don't fancy walking all the way down and up the Torridge, you can hop on the ferry across to Appledore.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 5 Instow (5)
It will be of no surprise that I wasn't even remotely tempted.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 5 Instow (6)
I pushed on past another railway station.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 5 Instow (7)
And then rejoined the Tarka Trail for a bit more tarmac tramping.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 6 Instow to Bideford (1)
From here I had my first sighting of the famous ship building yard at Appledore. And some pretty groovy art work from what looks to a buoy of some description.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 6 Instow to Bideford (2)
More evidence of the railway origins of the Tarka Trail.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 6 Instow to Bideford (4)
The heavens kindly opened at this juncture so it was back into waterproofs. But, given the choice, I'd rather have cloud and a bit of rain to too much heat. It's a more comfortable way to walk. Anyway, once I'd passed under the high level bridge carrying the A39, I neared the original route across the Torridge, the Bideford long bridge.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 6 Instow to Bideford (5)
Somehow I missed Bideford Station on the Tarka Trail, turning off a tad too early and taking the road. I crossed the bridge and stopped for coffee on a bench the other side. But not for long as no longer had I poured myself a cup it started raining again. So I was off back up the otherside of the estuary.  The Bideford footprints reminded me of Ilfracombe.  Kingsley's "little white town" is a reference to Charles Kingsley's book "Westward Ho!" from 1850.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 6 Instow to Bideford (6)
Walking up and down estuaries does not give you much impression of getting close to one's destination. You walk miles and miles only to end up directly opposite where you first started! But that's how it goes with some routes isn't it?
Having left the Tarka Trail the route took on a more 'classic' SWCP nature of paths, alley ways - basically, variety.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 7 Up the Torridge (1)
These tank traps made me smile. Reminded me of a trig pillar breeding ground.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 7 Up the Torridge (2)
I loved finding these tiny beaches.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 7 Up the Torridge (3)
The path detours around the back of Appledore's dockyard with a boring stretch of road before entering the quaint village centre.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 8 Appledore (1)
When I started the walk today I wasn't sure if I was going to finish at Appledore or push on to Westward Ho! I had left my car at Barnstaple Station and knew I could catch a bus back from either place. As I was doing so well on time I stopped for a drink and rest, reviewed my route, and decided to push on as it was only 1500.

It was a pleasant walk up through the village. Lots of houses have such creative nautical themes.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 8 Appledore (2)
The walk around Northam Burrows was a bit of a slog as I was tired and the wind had picked up. The route wanders around the edge of the golf course and I'm always pleased to see these wee markers just to reassure oneself that you're still on track.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 9 Northam Burrows (2)
Westward Ho! is a shingle fest. I imagine it got a serious battering in the winter's storms.
14 06 07 Day 6 - 10 Westward Ho! (2)
As I walked into Westward Ho! I spotted my bus: perfect timing. It took me 40 mins to return to Barnstaple Station. The bus route pretty much retracted my walk and I enjoyed replaying it in super quick time.