May 2014.

I've bought a campervan as a 60th birthday present to myself, made some curtains and a patchwork quilt, waved goodbye to my family, and set off. My aim is to explore the coastline of Britain, anti clockwise, starting in Kent. I have no idea what will happen.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Clovelly and Hartland

St Beuno's Church, Culbone

Sam and Harry from the AA came promptly at 8.30am, to drain Baa's fuel tank, etc. They were as nice as Jason and, though it was an expensive mistake, it wasn't fatal. “Oh we'll get this old thing right in no time. It's the modern ones that are difficult...” ! Baa was no trouble and in an hour we were heading back towards Porlock via the toll road which avoids the hill. Wonderful as Jason had been carrying us up Porlock Hill, I didn't want to call him out again.
The walk to Culbone Church, above Porlock Weir was more than we'd bargained for – 2 hours instead of 40 minutes - but well worth the climb. St Beuno's is the most enchanting church, inaccessible by road, and said to be the smallest church in England. Its origins are Anglo-Saxon and it retains adorable and tiny box pews.
Ilfracombe Harbour
We went via Ilfracombe and were so exhausted when we got to the campsite in Woolacombe with its bars, nightclubs and karaoke that I am afraid we didn't see any of it!
Nick and Alf left from Barnstaple the next day and I wasn't sure where I was headed. I rang a campsite at Stoke, and asked if they had wifi. No, she said, but they've got it in the pub down the road at Hartland Quay. That was such a revelation! Hartland Quay is just that – a quay (or what remains of it), with a hotel and a pub, and a carpark. The pub was doing a roaring trade at 6.30 with walkers coming in from the coastal path.
Opposite the campsite, the parish church of Hartland, St Nectan's, is huge and indicates just what a community there must have been here in the 17th and 18th centuries. Hartland Quay was a very busy place, with ships carrying lime, coal and slate coming in from the Bristol Channel and cargos of grain etc going out.
Next day I walked across from the campsite to join the coastal path (the more challenging stretch is south towards Bude) and the views are extraordinary up and down the coast with headlands sticking out like a row of beasts with their heads in the cliff, wonderfully contorted rock formations and sandy beaches appear when the tide is out. When I was there the sun was shining and the sky was blue as I walked along, but when Hartland Quay was a thriving port, many ships floundered on this dangerous coast.
The street in Clovelly
Clovelly is an absolutely adorable no-car village with a steeply cobbled path that leads down to the little harbour from a carpark at the top. It was bustling with tourists, and many Germans, because the owners of Clovelly have connections there. In days gone by all goods were carried up and down to the village by donkeys and there are still donkeys there now giving rides – unfortunately only to children. My mistake was wearing my Vivobarefoot shoes. They are designed to reawaken your feet and make every bone do its bit as you walk along - by having soles as thin as blotting paper. Not good on cobbles and I felt every one!

No comments: