Beyond the Devil’s Window

Sunday 23 March 2014- Blegberry- Hartland Quay

Me, Paddy Garcia, Kate Force One, Magic Dave, Burge and Mother of Two

P1000308 Day two of the Devon adventure. From Puffin House at Blegberry on foot to the SW coast path, we walked to Damehole Point and then looped back to stroll south down the coast to Hartland Quay.

This coastline faces west to the full Atlantic swell rather than north towards the Bristol Channel and the geology and scenery were even more spectacular (than yesterday). An up and down route with lots of steps and good viewpoints. Vast pebbly beaches. Also crossed the idyllic mouth of the Abbey River at Blackpool Mill Cottage. The final stretch to Hartland Quay included a ruined tower, lots of sheep and steep descent to the Wreckers Retreat for chip- and cake-based snacks. We enjoyed the rare pleasure of engaging in a debate on a factual topic (saltiness of the sea, causes of), without access to the internet*. And thus without conclusion. Old-fashioned indeed.

P1000317Uphill back to the main path, then struck inland to visit Stoke, and St Nectan’s Church, founded (originally) by Gytha, mother of King Harold in 1050. Mighty tower, beautiful ceilings and the marvellous Pope’s Chamber- up secret stairs to find a treasure trove of stocks, animal traps, masonry fragments, Jacobean woodwork and damp spotty pictures of serious ecclesiastical worthies.

From Stoke (where Burge’s ankle went), the route took us back along hilly country lanes (where Magic Dave’s knee went), past Hartland Abbey. The final green lane gave a great sense of Blegberry as a fortified farm perched on the cliffs. Glad to sit our shaky legs down at the end.

I loved this walk. It had everything I like in a route- spectacular natural scenery, varied views, interesting historic gubbins, and plenty of laughter. Some overuse of the word ‘evaporation’ perhaps (see saltiness, above).

 

*Also enjoyed by the man on the table next to us, who clearly thought we were eejits. He might have been right, we had drunk alot of gin and champagne cocktails the night before.

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Westward Ho!

Saturday 22 March 2014- Blegberry- Clovelly, Hartland Peninsula

Me, Paddy Garcia, Kate Force One, Magic Dave, Burge, the DJ, Mother of Two, Kt and Little Miss R

A weekend in Devon to celebrate Kate Force One’s 40th. The mission for Saturday was to walk to Clovelly, 8-ish miles along the SW coastal path from Puffin House at Blegberry where we were staying. A simple idea, but let’s just say we may be old enough to form a fiendishly complex one-way-walk, three-car-drop-off, multiple-personnel plan (including shopping trip), but still not old enough to execute it efficiently. Cue four hours of spiralling disorganisation- which included leaving three pairs of walking boots locked in the car at the end of the walk and having to go back for them.

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BlackChurch Rock

After a hearty breakfast of blueberry pancakes (by now lunchtime), Team A set off on foot from Blegberry to join the coastal path; Team B assembled a bit later, drove to East Titchberry and joined the path there. The views spectacular, the weather beautiful- cold and windy but largely sunny. The first section was easy going, with tougher ups and downs from Windbury Point along to Mouth Mill. Homemade ham sandwiches and tortilla for lunch (by now teatime) halfway. Interesting limekilns and huge pebbles at Mouth Mill, and orchids. By the final stretch through the deer park into Clovelly, it felt like a long walk, but spirits were still high.

P1000297Arriving late (by now 5:30pm) in Clovelly was good. We admired the super-steep cobbled streets and whitewashed cottages and enjoyed a drink (chocolate icecream for Little Miss R) in the pub. The village was very quiet and the air felt magically still after the exposed coastal walk. We creaked up the final steps to the carpark as it went dark.

Overall, a mighty effort and a grand day out, with good company and plenty of opportunity for relishing our own haplessness. Special mention for Little Miss R who outwalked us all. The day ended in the same comedy fashion it began, with Team A returning to Puffin House first, but without door keys to let themselves in. Hey ho.