Our continued blog of our great week exploring the South West Coast Path in Cornwall and Devon. Three more excellent hike days in the most glorious late Spring weather....and "award winning" pasties of course!
Day 4 - Hartland Point to Clovelly
John helped us again today, dropping our car off at Clovelly and running us back to Hartland Point where we finished yesterday. As we pulled into the car park at Clovelly we are surprised to see a number of large container trucks...we realised these are loaded with TV production gear...and later learn that the ITV production company is filming... "against a story is set on Guernsey Island in the aftermath of World War II and sees free-spirited journalist Juliet Ashton, played by Lily James, form a life-changing bond with the delightful and eccentric "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society", when she decides to write about the book club they formed during wartime". The screenplay has been adapted from the Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows international best-selling novel, of the same name. One to look out for on ITV then....!
Carpets of bluebells along the path.....
The Hartland Peninsula section of the Coast Path is set in contrasting lanscapes, to include ancient woodland, through pastoral land and then on to open high cliff tops. Hartland Point with its lighthouse built in 1874 and fantastically named Tense Rocks are just beyond the Point. You also have spectacular views to South Wales and Lundy Island on a clear day...and this is another perfect day, sunny, blue skies, with those clear views over to Lundy Island.
The Blonde - we are enjoying this track so much we really don't want to hurry. We stop often, stare into space and enjoy the warmth and sunshine. I'm even in a t-shirt! Now that's a first for 2017!
The Blonde and The Bluebells.....good name for a group?!
The bluebells, yellow gorse and Sea Pink (Thrift) colour the cliffs like a huge flourescent carpet. We have really chosen the most perfect time of year to be here and the weather? Well how blessed are we! Perfect.
From the track we look back towards Hartland Point and the unmistakable dome of the Radar Station (used for air traffic control of both military and civilian aircraft). The white dome topped structure can be seen from distances of up to 10 miles from the point.Today’s walk continues similar to yesterdays, with a few ups and downs and then we find flatter grazing land on the cliff tops. Eventually this takes us away from the views of the coves, bays and beaches down below but then we find ourselves in the middle of carpets of bluebells, then lush green fields full of very fat sheep and 100's of lambs. It seems that twin lambs are more the norm now, and in certain pastures we see a few triplets as well...how do we know? Well Mum and bubs are all suitably tattooed with spray paint featuring their own numbers.
A switchback trail takes us down through very picturesque Brownsham Wood and even more bluebells, before we emerge onto Mouthmill Beach with Blackchurch Rock.
The Blonde on track to Mouthmill Beach
This remote beach is situated on the harsh stretch of coast towards Hartland Point in North Devon. For centuries the fearsome looking jagged rocks along this coastline have been the scourge of seafarers. In fact it is sometimes referred to as the "Iron Coast" owing to the inordinate number of ships wrecked here.
One of the best things about Mouthmill is the woodland walk down through Brownsham Wood. These pretty old woods are like something straight out of a fairy tale with coastal glimpses and wooden footbridges over babbling brooks. As well as rockpools and a small stream there are the ruins of a lime kiln. These were used for producing lime from limestone, which farmers then used to reduce the acidity of the soil. Another clue to the coves industrial past is the name "Mouth Mill" which probably referred to some sort of water wheel along the banks of the stream.
The holes in Blackchurch Rock are easier to see from the cliff top before the descent but it’s still a beautiful beach and we scramble over the huge pebbles to get our photos and to take a short afternoon contemplation break, listtening to the waves break on the beach and rush pebbles back into the next wave with a roar.
From here there is a very steep climb and it’s almost too steep to stand still and catch your breath! There’s a shelter known as “Angel Wings” which was built by the owner of Clovelly Estate, Sir James Hamlyn Williams.
Clovelly is the end of our hike today. It's a tough finish for The Bear after all the ups and downs today...he is suffering a litlle also after yesterday's big hike. Clovelly is a steep cobbled street down to the harbour.
On the steep streets of Clovelly
No traffic. Donkeys! And everything goes down on sleds. Old bread trays on wooden runners. Every cottage has a sled right outside the door. I speak to a mum with three kids coming home from school. They make the walk down into the village every day without any fuss. I'm impressed.
Down at the pretty harbour people are sitting outside the pub in the sun. There's normally only one pub here.
But today there's been filming for the TV series and the little harbour is all set like a 1940's stage with craypots, fish drying racks, ropes and carts laid outside the "new" pub, "The Star".
There are plenty of Americans visiting this famous Cornish village but most of them are exiting and we end up pretty much the last tourists in town! Great for us to take photos without lots of bodies in the way.
By the time we leave at just after 5pm, the donkeys have retired for the day and the owner is sweeping up straw and chatting with locals as various sleds are pulled up or dragged down the hill. We exit through the tourist information center,.... suitably well decked out with all sorts of paraphenalia for the tourist wanting that "little treasure" to take home with them to remember the day spent here...quickly!
A tempting purchase.....!
Its been another great hike day.....only a 20 minute drive back to base and we are soon sitting down to a nice Thai Green Curry and a bottle of the "dark stuff" for The Bear.
Day 5 - Crackington Haven to Boscastle
We couldn't ask John to shuttle us again today so we found a section of the SWCP that we could get public transport for....and I do love using public transport. It seems the right thing to do. When you get to way out places by car it always seems like a cheat to me! So we drive 40 mins to Crackington Haven which has a couple of cafes, a pub and a lovely little beach. We used the £1/day car park instead of the £5/day and hop on the local bus that arrives within a couple of minutes of us parking up. Weyhey! We're REAL hikers today. Along with a dozen others on the bus with backpacks and walking poles!
Boscastle is a cute little village but it is CLOSED! OK, so we appreciate that this is not the height of the season, but two buses have arrived in the village at 09.30 and apart from the little corner shop nowhere is open? The tourist information has lights on...but nobody home...doesn't open until 10pm...the two coffee shops likewise. There would be a total of 25 to 30 people who have just arrived to hike the coast path and nothing is open...very, very strange!
So we photographed the village, gave up on the coffee idea as they'd been mean not letting us in before 10am. The little harbour was very pretty and we soon realise we are the only people heading eastwards. The others all went west towards Tintagel. That suited us just fine....we had the trail to ourselves for quite some time until we started meeting the end to end walkers coming towards us who must have left Crackington Haven from their overnight stops.
Once again the coast was beautiful and craggy and we stopped several times to just stare. This section turned out to be the hardest in terms of ups and downs though. My FitBit recordered over 225 flights of steps (multiply by 13 for each flight)! The previous two sections were around 170 flights.
A lovely group of 6 women came towards us having way too much of a good time! Four husband-free days hiking together! I almost left David and joined them! Then they wanted photos with The Bear to send back to their husbands to show them "what they had picked up on the SWCP"! We took their photos, exchanged some gossip and when we were a couple of ups and downs away from them I could still see them sitting on a bench taking in the views! Good for them!
Just before our final climb and then descent into Crackington Haven we laid back on our backpacks and waited for the sky to become completely blue. We could see all the way back to Tintagel. Glorious.....
Feeling the need to finish now ( and The Bear considering where the next "award winning pasty" maybe coming from!), we tore ourselves away, met a herd of goats with big horns sunning themselves in a craggy cove and talked to a man who was photographing them. He asked us how long it had taken us to hike from Boscastle. We said six hours but it was more like 4 hours of walking and 2 hours of photographing and enjoying the views. He was just setting off and said he was worried about his blood sugar levels. He had sweets with him but no sign of a backpack with water or warmer clothes. David said he'd probably make it there before dark but he'd need to keep moving and it was a tough section. I worried about him for the rest of the day. While we sat in the pub with cider and stout I watched for him to come back into Crackington but he didn't. I should have encouraged him to do that and said we'd run him to Boscastle especially when he refused my apple - the only food we had left from our picnic. Some people just take chances and don't do the necessary research.
It's been another great day and we sat quietly in the pub in the sunshine just reflecting and literally.....drinking it all in!!!!
Day 6 - Kilkhampton to Bude
This is another section we could manage with the car and public transport. Kilkhampton is just 5 miles down the road and we could park in the village square to start today's hike. There is a section of the SWCP that we will miss and that's between Welcombe Mouth and Morwenstowe. It's supposed to be a tough section and a landslide has meant the detour makes the potential hike day 16 miles. We think it's too much for us after the last few days. So today we decide will be a little gentle day - really????
First stop is St James church in the village to see St James holding his conch shell from the Camino de Santiago. What a place to find him. We still have our conch shells on our backpacks and still feel a connection with the trail which we hiked 5 years ago.
We walk down country lanes and across farmland, passing a medieval mound and reaching the pretty village of Coombe with thatched cottages, a watermill and a little ford. The cottages have been renovated by Land Corps and The National Trust and are available for rent. Combe is within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Almost a third of Cornwall has AONB designation, with the same status and protection as a National Park.
Finally we get to the beach at Duckpool with a big car park and lots of other hikers and a couple of organised groups getting ready to set off. We start our climb up the cliffs, heading south and west. This section seems to have less ups and downs and we have a long section up on top, with stunning views. The unusual rocks we saw at Welcombe Mouth are here too and we can see the long, long, sandy beach of Sandy Mouth.
Somehow the picnic sandwiches are shouting "eat me, eat me" and we're lunching by just after 11am!!! I think The Bear wants to have time to get hungry again before Bude so he can have another “Award Winning” Cornish pasty!!! After our picnic we lay back in the sun and I actually fall asleep.....strangely a young man, who appears to be running the path stops less than 20 meters away and starts doing push ups and squats? Once he realises neither of us is taking any notice of his exertions he gets up and wanders off back down the track....nowt stranger than folk!!
Arriving at Sandy Mouth, we take a detour off the coastal path and head for this glorious beach passing another film set for the Guernsey WWII love story.
Sandymouth beach is truly beautiful. It is just 3 miles north of Bude and the large pebble beach, owned by the National Trust, reveals large stretches of sand at low tide.
The numerous rock pools have some unusual sponge-like growths and some remnants of a shipwreck.
The tide is on the turn and coming in quite quickly and we're not sure if we can get round the cliffs, so we cut short our jaunt on the beach and climb the cliffs for one last time before dropping down into Bude, through Summerleaze with its well manicured prom and suitably colourful beach huts.
But, to the total despair of The Bear ........the Cornish Pasty shop (with award winning pasties)....is closed!!! And we're an hour early for the bus. Ah, well, I guess it just has to be a cider and a stout then!
The bus is noisy with kids coming home from school but they all get dropped off either outside their houses or at the nearest street corner. No matter where the bus stop is. Reminds me of Dunsborough! On our return to the cottage, we sit in the paddock behind the farm sheds, it's sunny and warm and with daylight now until almost 9pm there's still time to enjoy those last rays of sunshine before we need to be inside!
We have loved our visit to this part of the country. Neither of us had really spent anytime here since our youth. There has been a major investment made in the area to improve the offer around the SWCP and the facilities now being offered, a more extensive transport service will be needed in the future if it is going to attract more visitors to access the path, but other than that, this is a wonderful area to chillout, hike and enjoy some amazing scenery and English heritage....and of course...that "award winning" pasty!
The Blonde taking in the vista back to Sandymouth Beach...one final look down the SWCP.
For a much better view of what the SWCP has to offer go to their excellent website @: https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk or download their App at the Apple store.
For info on our beautiful cottage: http://westwoolleyfarm.co.uk