Hartland Quay to Bude
By the morning, the rain has disappeared, and the wind has dropped away, giving us unexpectedly pleasant conditions as we set out. The sky is overcast and grey, but there are occasional fragments of blue in the distance, promising better weather later.
My guide book has whetted our appetite by telling us that the route ahead is
“one of the most scenic and dramatic stretches” of the coast path…”but also one of the toughest”.
Clovelly to Hartland Quay
When I returned from the last instalment, I told my good friend Jerry that the next two stages were described in the guide book as ‘moderate to strenuous’ and (oh joy) ‘severe’.
“Oh?” said Jerry, with a tone like I’d just told him Madonna was on the line, at a loose end after her date had cancelled. He was in.
Westward Ho! To Clovelly
For the past two days the weather forecast for today has been suggesting a chance of rain. We wake up to find that chance has materialised. The road outside is wet. More rain is promised for the rest of the morning.
At breakfast, Sam has his iPad out and looks up maths puzzles. I can tell today’s walk will be one to savour. Continue reading
Instow to Westward Ho!
Instow has a pleasantly nautical air, with sailing boats rooted in the low-tide mud, and a wide expanse of yellow sand. The town is pretty, with a parade of pastel-shade villas along the waterfront, many with boldly-coloured shutters. A cricket pitch perches above the estuary. Everyone seems to have a wet dog, and knows everyone else.
Barnstaple to Instow
It has taken longer than I expected, but finally we set out to resume the coastal trek. This time I have company: my son Sam, making his long-distance footpath debut. His proud mother takes a picture of us as we leave the house.
Now taller than Dad. And thinner.
Braunton to Barnstaple – 12,000 steps
I am reunited with the Path in the morning, but it’s not the same.
I leave my B&B on the outskirts of Braunton, and pick up a muddy minor path downhill that soon brings me to the route of the disused railway line that takes the Coast Path into Barnstaple.
Ilfracombe to Braunton – 42,000 steps
Breakfast is an egg and tomato roll, instant coffee and a custard tart. I eat it on a wooden bench beneath Ilfracombe’s singular war memorial.
War Memorial, Ilfracombe
The sun is already painting the roofs of buildings a sumptuous amber colour, and burning off the early haze. Seagulls cackle loudly all around, children are walking to school.
It’s a peaceful scene and I’m reluctant to start my day’s hike. I have a long day ahead of me. Not as long a walk as Day 2, but one thing that I didn’t factor in when I planned the trip was that the legs get tired and each day’s miles feel longer. Plus, it turns out that Devon coastal miles are longer than London and south east England (flat) miles.