North Devon Walks May 2018
- Category: Walking Further Afield
- Published: Tuesday, 29 May 2018 15:08
North Devon May 2018
Four great days walking in glorious Devon !
Day 1 On Monday short walkers aimed for the Doone Valley via a track across Exmoor. It was wonderfully open but the track was not always clear resulting in leader Sue with book in hand parting from leader Phil with map in hand to find the best route connecting with a series of whistles which echoed across the moor. The Doone Valley was as beautiful as ever but sadly the cream tea anticipated was not available. The longer walk started at Combe Martin and climbed steadily up through pretty lanes full of wild flowers onto Knap Down and then on to Holdstone Down. The views were spectacular in all directions. The walk then joined the South West Coast Path climbing up to Great Hangman, the highest sea cliff in England, before gradually descending down to Little Hangman and back into Combe Martin where local ice cream was enjoyed by all.
Day 2, Tuesday one or two of us ventured to Lundy Island which remained persistently shrouded in mist until we were leaving ! However the mist provided some very atmospheric views of deer, ponies and sheep as we walked up the Island and we did see one puffin and, unusually, a fog bow. ! Happily the weather had been not much better on the mainland. The short walk started from Hunters Inn along he Heddon Valley by the river to Heddons Mouth then up, quite steeply, onto the coast path to Trentinshoe, then back to Hunter’s Inn. The longer walk started at the National Trust car park in the Beautiful Heddon valley. The path meandered quite steeply at times up through Invention Wood emerging at the top into open fields and wooded lanes. The walk passed through the hamlet of Heale and undulating field paths eventually joining Ladies Mile. After lunch the walk joined the South West Coast Path and the intention was to follow this back to Heddon's Mouth, but quite thick sea mist had descended and visibility was poor so the walk was re-routed, turning inland to Trentishoe Church. This path was poorly marked and not visible on the ground so the group made a fairly steep descent through the bracken and bluebells to join another path lower down that eventually came out at Heddon's Mouth. The group had a pleasant break on the beach before returning through the wood to Hunters Inn and a well-deserved drink
Day 3 Wednesday was a day off for short walkers, when most of us opted to go to RHS Rosemoor. The Gardens, despite the intermittent rain, were delightful. One of the better RHS Gardens and much enhanced by Hilary’s knowledgeable comments. The long walk started from Barna Barrow car park, east of Lynmouth. The South West Coast Path was joined at Desolation Point and the walk continued west to the lighthouse at Foreland Point and on to Countisbury Church for the lunch break. After lunch the walk continued on to Lynmouth, returning alongside the East Lyn river to Watersmeet House and then a steady climb up Countisbury Hill back to the car park at Barna Barrow.
Day 4, Thursday the short walkers tackled a trail from Simonsbath along the river through the through the Bale Valley with beautifully wide views over England’s green and pleasant land. Ending with the famed cream tea- for some. The longer walk picked up the South West Coast Path at the Torrs Walk in Ilfracombe, following the coast line very closely with wonderful views all day. There was a short detour into the pretty village of Lee, with a coffee stop at Lee Bay before joining the Coast Path again. The steeply undulating path continued on around Bull Point to Morte Point, a spectacular place for lunch, perched high up on the rocks. After lunch the walk continued on to Woolacombe where after more delicious ice cream the group returned to Ilfracombe on the bus.
Feeling well exercised at the end of each day, it was a great boon to visit the hotel indoor pool to soothe away our aches, and/or the terrace to catch the sun with a well-earned drink.
Many thanks to Mike B. for his summary of the week:
"The Sandy Cove Hotel, in Combe Martin, proved to be an inspired choice for the 22 Ramblers who took part. Nestling on the SW slopes of Combe Martin Bay, there were unrivalled views of the immediate coastline and of South Wales to the NW across the Bristol Channel.
The hotel was generally well managed, though recent upgrading lacked some final touches. The staff, especially those from the catering department, were most welcoming and the food excellent. Usually, one ate for dinner what one had ordered in the morning, although there were some exciting uncertainties, which were not resolved until the meal itself arrived.
The hotel was clearly an exceptional venue for weddings, but was being significantly upgraded for this purpose. For example, we had tarmac laid on the drives and two car parks during our stay, improvements which, though inconvenient, were more than compensated for by the entertainment provided, with the opportunity to study nubile young men at work and complicated machines for the enjoyment of the more mechanically minded.
The walks were superb, usually about eight miles long, but varying in their challenge. About half of the group participated in the more difficult routes, while the other half enjoyed the less demanding walks with the possibility for some to visit the RHS garden at Rosemoor and the NT Regency House and Carriage Museum at Arlington Court near Barnstaple. Several walks involved coastline routes, with vertiginous drops to the side; and some were inland, but all provided marvellous views of breathtakingly beautiful countryside.
The more demanding walks had been surveyed in great detail by two of our leaders, Peter and Hilary, who had made a preliminary visit to the area earlier in the month. They provided us with a wealth of information while Phil and Sue, with their prior knowledge of the region, were also able to contribute much detail regarding the ‘easier’ walks, which they led.
Our grateful thanks are due to all the leaders for their effort and determination to make the whole occasion enjoyable for all. The weather was kind with no significant rain, but a sea mist developed on one or two days, which temporarily impaired the visibility for those on the lower walks and for those who had taken a boat trip to Lundy Island.
Our thanks must also be given to the many drivers who willingly took members to the various venues.
In conclusion, the trip was most successful, a great treat for us all and due to the hard work, efficiency, care and dedication of our leaders".