Rugged Tales

Wherever my feet may take me…


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Feeling the heat

After exploring the coast round Barnstaple from every conceivable angle, today I struck out for pastures new, joined for the weekend by my friend Claire. An improbably long walk around the golf course from Appledore to Westward Ho! set the tone for the day: much longer and more arduous than we had expected. Fortunately, although not as quaint as Appledore, Westward Ho! had all the amenities essential in a seaside resort, including rows of colourful beach huts and a Hockings ice-cream van. Topped with an almost equal quantity of clotted cream, I felt sure this Devon speciality would power me up any number of cliffs!

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Fortunate, then, that we had eaten some as Claire and I clambered up cliff and down gully in the boiling heat. At least there was a fresh sea breeze to help cool us down now that we were back on the coast after my inland foray to Barnstaple.

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After a mercifully flat(ish) section along shady Hobby Drive we arrived in Clovelly for dinner – even quainter and more picturesque than Appledore.

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Picking our way down the steep cobbled High Street was hard enough: climbing back up to the campsite at Higher Clovelly after such a long day was even harder. We pitched our tents in the gathering dusk, trying (with limited success) to dodge the midges, and dozed off listening to the band playing old favourites at a wedding reception across the road. I would probably have slept through Armageddon after such a tiring day!


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A long way round

I thought yesterday that the Coast Path was a circuitous way to end up five miles from where I started, but today I walked 20 miles to end up within sight yesterday’s lunch stop! My longest walk of the trip so far took me round two estuaries: from Chivenor into Barnstaple and back the other side of the River Taw then down to East-the-Water, across the River Torridge to Bideford, and back up again.

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I ended the day in Appledore, which I glimpsed yesterday through drifting sea mists from Crow Point (at the southern tip of Braunton Burrows). Approaching Instow today I got a clearer view of Appledore to the left and Crow Point to the right and realised that if I hadn’t been so prescriptive about my mode of transport I could have swim across in a fraction of the time!

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My route today mostly followed the Tarka Trail cycle path along old railway track beds – always easy to navigate, sometimes boring, and occasionally alarming as cyclists streaked past without warning. At least there were no hills to contend with. Some of the cuttings even offered a little shade for which I was very grateful as the weather had suddenly turned hot. At around 30 degrees by one forecast, it was only the breeze and the odd patches of shade that kept me going.

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When I reached it, Appledore provided my most enjoyable evening to date, chatting with a couple of groups of people from the village in a wonderfully friendly pub on the harbour front as the high tide lapped against the sea wall and the tropical heat of the day gave way to a balmy peach sunset. Maybe I’ll give up all this walking and just relax here for a bit…