Bideford to Horn’s Cross 27.5.18

A patch of blue sky and an optimistic forecast. We leave Bideford and carry on northwards up the west bank of the River Torridge. The shore is littered with derelict vessels of all shapes and sizes but at one point we climb up into a lovely stretch of woodland with a photo opportunity.

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Just south of a village called Appledore is a large ship building yard. The area is hermetically sealed from prying eyes and the coastal path diverted away from the estuary. Obviously there is/have been projects here deemed not for the public eye and I later find out that, in 2007, important elements of the two Queen Elisabeth class aircraft carriers were constructed here – maybe why.

Appledore is delightful little fishing village – home to Hocking’s ice cream, which is only sold in North Devon. Pity we didn’t know that when we were there. The streets are lined with pastel coloured cottages and we walk past one of the narrowest houses I have ever seen.

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A little further down the street two terracotta figures lean out from an upstairs window.

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…and further on, another homage to the village

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From Appledore we continue up and around the Northam Burrows Country Park and down into Westward Ho! which must surely be the only place in the whole world to have an exclamation mark after its name. The town has attracted its fair share of holiday makers on this sunny bank holiday weekend and we find it difficult to find a nice place for a cup of tea and a sandwich.

Setting off again we follow a tribute to Rudyard Kipling set into the pavement of the promenade with small granite cobbles. Apparently he spent a few years of his childhood life in the town.

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Admirable sentiments……

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Further on down there is a concrete swimming set into the rocks. It looks enticing but we don’t really have the time and no swimsuits.

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The path leading out of the town now follows the base of the cliffs for a while but then twists upwards and we soon start to see the lovely red sandstone that I associate with Devon.

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Eventually we reach Pebbercombe which is our turn off.

IMG_3757The track that leads up to the main road seems endless as we are pretty tired by now but as always a pint of cold beer at the end makes it all worthwhile. In the bar a couple of girls are setting up a drum set and testing microphones. They are due to start in a hour which is a bit long to wait. Pity.

Distance: 10 miles

 

Fremington Quay to Bideford 26.5.18

So back to Fremington Quay, this time with Damian and this time we cross the bridge and carry straight on along the Tarka Trail.

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It’s a dull day but at least it’s not raining and we make good progress. On the outskirts of Instow we pass another overgrown railway track and a very well preserved signal box – now a listed building.

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Instow is a pretty little village with a wide sandy beach, independent shops and a well stocked delicatessen. We decide to stop for a cream tea from a van parked overlooking the beach. As luck would have it, a few minutes after sitting down the heavens open and there is very little shelter around – stuffing down scones in a rainstorm is not really what I had in mind.

Anyway, the rain is short-lived and we are soon on our way. A while later (it’s so long ago my memory fails me) the path takes us though a patch of woodland and rounding a bend we are treated to the sight of a large boat which has been hauled up onto the mudflats and showing clear signs of human habitation. An extraordinary sight – very Dickensian.

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We tiptoe past, feeling like intruders.

From here on we share the path with joggers and cyclists – it is long and straight with no surprises. There is a sculpture.

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And soon we are crossing the bridge into Bideford and straight into the tumult of a motorcycle rally.

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On our way to our BnB we walk past at least half a mile of motorbikes and their owners – of all shapes and sizes. A constant worry for me is that my daughter is a motorcyclist – she would have loved it.

Distance: 8 miles

 

 

 

 

Barnstaple to Fremington 25.5.18

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I set out for Barnstaple in North Devon to go walking – since then I have not had my boots on – work is a curse.

Anyway I arrive in Barnstaple at lunchtime and having found my hotel I set out for the Tarka Trail which runs westwards, skirting the estuary of the rivers Taw and Torridge.

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It takes me a while to find it but after a few stops and starts I set off on the long grey tarmac road which runs alongside the sand and mudflats of the estuary. It is drizzling but I don’t mind. There is a concrete road bridge ahead of me and as I walk under it I see that one of the pillars has been decorated with a picture of a mermaid in what looks like an old fashioned diving helmet – very strange.

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Further on a rusty old fishing boat sits on the sand waiting for the tide…………….

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Nothing much happens now, I trudge along with rain dripping steadily from the hood of my jacket, fantasising about supper – but at least it’s not cold.

Eventually I arrive at Fremington Quay where I had planned to turn round and head back to Barnstaple. Looking at the building, which houses a heritage centre and cafe (closed), it dawns on me that the long straight road I’d been walking on is the path of the old railway line from Barnstaple. Further research tells me that by the mid 19th century Fremington Quay had become the most important port between Bristol and Lands End – the main export was clay and imports included coal from South Wales and seed potatoes from Ireland.

IMG_5369From here there is a road leading into the town but I see on my map that there is a footpath off to the left and I quickly find the sign.

 

The very muddy path leads alongside the water and then opens up onto a tarmac track lined with beech trees and rhododendron bushes.  It is pleasant walking and I fall to daydreaming.IMG_3715

Ten minutes later I awake from my reverie to find myself staring at a high metal fence which is blocking my way. I can see, on the other side, the tell tale signs of new house building but as I stare in horror at the prospect of having to retrace my steps I notice a chink in the armour. There is a very narrow space between the end of the fence and a tree, which would then leave me at the top of a slippery slope of newly dug over earth. Oh well – here we go. After a struggle to get me and my rucksack through the tiny space I slip on the mud and only save myself from the ignominy of sliding down the slope on my bum, by grabbing onto a young branch which is in the right place at the right time. Phew!

After this episode it is an easy walk back to the main road, the bus and a pint. Damian arrives tomorrow.

Distance: 4 miles