Day 65 Bude to Tintagel Saturday 16 July

Distance 28.06 miles , cumulative 1,189.59 miles, time 10 hrs 45 mins, walking time 9 hrs 20 mins, pace 3 mph, camped Headland Caravan Park
The stretch into Tintagel can be brutal on a hot day carrying a large pack with all the steep valleys to cross. Fortunately, whilst humid there was a stiff breeze for most of the day. 

We made an early start and had the path to ourselves for the first four hours except for a few dog walkers. Widemouth Bay was beginning to see the surfer dudes gather for what looked like a competition. We walked passed the adventure centre where Ryan had his stag weekend and we reached Crackington Haven for an early lunch of tea and a pasty. One of the joys of the SWCP is that there are plenty of cafe stops on the route. Steve likes to eat his way round the coastal path. 

Boscastle was busy and fortunately no flooding or dramatic rooftop helicopter rescues were to be seen, just the usual witches and wizards shops. 

The Headland Hotel at Tintagel had been visible all day and gradually got closer as we negotiated the switchbacks up and over the cliffs. 

In the evening Tim and Lois S met us for a pub meal and that made for a very convivial evening of catching up. Tim is even thinking about walking JOGLE himself, Lois is not – but is happy to be the support crew.  Thanks to Lois and Tim for making the journey down from Sidmouth it was very much appreciated and a welcome treat. 

Tomorrow we walk on to Port Isaac but then cut inland towards Wadebridge. The SWCP continues on to Rock and you would get the ferry to Padstow. However ‘ End to Enders’ should not use ferries as you are supposed to walk the whole way so we have to divert in to Wadebridge. This combined with us being a day behind our original plan thwarted Bob and Kath’s attempts to surprise us by meeting us on the trail. Sorry Bob and Kath we hope you enjoyed your walk anyway. 

Advertisements

Day 64 Stoke (near Hartland Quay) to Bude – Friday 15 July

Distance 17.3 miles , cumulative 1,161.53 miles, time 7 hrs 50 mins, walking time 6 hrs 20 mins, pace 2.7 mph, camped Bude Holiday Resort
Today was the start of week 10, our final full week before we finish at Land’s End on Saturday 23 July.

The walk to Bude is full of steep descents and climbs in and out of the combs. The geology of the coastline here is dramatic. At Welcombe

Mouth you can see close up the wave cut platform of sandstone ridges all formed 318 million years ago when the ancient super continents divided. 

At Marsland we stopped at Ronald Duncan’s hut. Ronald Duncan (1914 – 1982) was a writer, playwright, journalist, poet and farmer who lived at Marsland and he built the hut overlooking the cliff edge in 1962 as his writing hut. The hut was restored as a tribute to him by his daughter Bryony after his death. The hut is opened every day for walkers to use and contains a visitors book which we signed. 

We entered Cornwall our final County and celebrated with a selfie. We both managed a smile but Steve quickly reverted to his usual grumpy self. 

The weather was wet and windy and only started to brighten up as we headed into Bude. It was a day for full waterproofs and hoods up. However, we did pass one elegant gentleman dressed in deer stalker, felt coat, red twill shirt, moleskin trousers, polished Oxford shoes and sporting a wooden walking stick, he seemed very happy and was no doubt a member of the Sherlock Holmes appreciation society. 

The final landmarks before reaching Bude are the communication dishes at Stanbury.

On reaching the campsite our first chore was to head to the onsite laundry to wash our clothes. As we enter our final week we are due to meet up with a few friends and we felt it prudent to do our best to reduce the unpleasant aromas to a minimum. Shame Lynn’s feet would not go in.

Day 63 Abbotsham to Stoke (near Hartland Quay) – Thursday 14 July

Distance 23.88 miles , cumulative 1,144.23 miles, time 10 hrs, walking time 8 hrs 5 mins, pace 2.9 mph, camped Stoke Barton Farm

We followed the SWCP today until we reached Hartland Point cafe shack and then we headed inland to Stoke. 

This is a stretch of coast we have walked often over the years and today with the bright sunshine and very little haze we had the best views of Lundy from the coast path we have ever had. 

We passed through Bucks Mill where one hardy resident was swimming and a robin wanted to share Lynn’s apple.

The first walkers we passed were heard before we saw them. We heard shrieks and suspected that the escaped Lynx had been spotted. It turned out that a wasp had been the cause and a motley gang of 6 kids and their minder walked into view. The elected spokesperson asked us if this was the way to the ‘kinda beach’ and we replied it ‘kinda was’. We think they may have been a little disappointed on reaching Bucks Mill if they were expecting a sandy beach, deckchairs and candy floss. We were tempted to double back and see. 

We passed through Clovelly quickly by the visitors centre, which was busy. We reached the tea shack at Hartland Point and after the compulsory brew we headed inland to Stoke guided by the church tower knowing the campsite was opposite. 

The church in Stoke is known as North Devon’s Cathedral because of it’s size and we were treated to the sounds of bell ringing followed by a brass band and choir concert during the evening. 

The campsite had a well stocked shop, so rather than walk down to the Hartland Quay Hotel to get a meal, we eat by the tent in the sun, which had been out all day but tempered by a stiff breeze. 

Day 62 Bishops Tawton to Abbotsham – Wednesday 13 July

Distance 18.07 miles , cumulative 1,120.35 miles, time 8 hrs 50 mins, walking time 5 hrs 25 mins, pace 3.3 mph, camped Westacott Farm
Our first full day back in Devon. We followed the Tarka Trail into Bideford along the Torridge Estuary. We started the day by dropping into Barnstaple and finding the footbridge we were going to use to cross the River Taw was closed for refurbishment so we were diverted up to the road bridge. From here the Tarka Trail follows an old railway so is very flat and has some long straight and exposed stretches which can catch the wind. 

We passed the Royal Marines Amphibious Trials and Training Squadron base just before entering Instow.

By mid morning we had reached Instow and we were met by Bideford resident and long time friend Tony E, who as always was outstanding company. He fed and watered us and handed over some supplies we had left with him over 9 weeks ago, in particular the maps for our final section of the walk. It was good to see him, catch up on some news, talk about the walk and share camping experiences.

Before we knew it over an hour had passed and we got back on the trail crossing the old bridge into Bideford, where we did some shopping and had another feed, at Wetherspoons – sorry Ryan. 

We left the Tarka Trail climbing out of Bideford to our campsite (with views out to Lundy Island) for the evening near Abbotsham. Tomorrow we get on to our much loved South West Coast Path (although the Tarka Trail we were on today constitutes a section of the SWCP) which will pretty much take us to Land’s End in 10 days time. We are both wondering where the past 9 weeks has gone, it seems to have flown by. 

The weather was glorious all day, the walking was easier and a little shorter, given some of the epic distances we have covered over the past few days and meeting up with Tony made for a great day. 

Day 61 Exford to Bishops Tawton – Tuesday 12 July

Distance 30.57 miles, cumulative 1,102.28 miles, time 9 hrs 45 mins, walking time 8 hrs 55 mins, pace 3.4 mph, camped Whitmoor Farm.
We decided to leave the Macmillan Way yesterday as we found it a little overgrown and hard to follow so we switched to the Coleridge Way which was a more direct route. Today we followed the Two Moors Way and the Tarka Trail footpath. 

We saw a herd of deer on Exmoor, the first deer we had seen since the Pennines. 

We left Somerset and looked back at a ‘Welcome to Somerset’ sign. The first sign we saw in Devon was the usual warm Devon welcome (see picture) but we knew we had left Somerset as a 4G phone signal instantly appeared. 

We passed the Poltimore Arms pub (not the one near Exeter) which claims to be the most ‘off grid’ pub in the uk as it is beyond mains electricity, gas and water. We had tea and a bite as we listened to the diesel generator. Steve was annoyed with himself (which made two people annoyed with him as generally there is usually one other already annoyed with him) as he forgot to take a photo of the pub. Photos were in short supply due to the rain and poor visibility so we would like to come back to the area in the summer. Although summer did arrive at the campsite about the same time we did.

Day 60 Williton to Exford – Monday 11 July

Distance 27.31 miles, cumulative 1,071.71 miles, time 9 hrs 40 mins, walking time 8 hrs 30 mins, pace 3.2 mph, camped Westermill Farm
Thanks to Paul, Jane and Buzz for their excellent hospitality. Paul even washed our socks, which is above and beyond the call of duty. After a very large and lovely breakfast we got going and we were escorted to the town boundary by Jane and Buzz, presumably to ensure we did leave together with our socks. 

Shortly after leaving Williton we joined the Coleridge Way which we followed from Roadwater to Wheddon Cross. Named after the poet Samuel Coleridge the whole path runs for 51 miles from Netherstowey to Lynton. It goes through the Quantocks, Brendan Hills and Exmoor National Park. We would recommend the Coleridge Way and would like to return to do the whole route. 

It was a fine, breezy day with a few spots of rain. 

We left the Quantocks and climbed onto Exmoor skirting Dunkery Beacon before dropping down to the campsite near Exford. The campsite was 2.5 miles from the nearest pub so we cooked up at the tent. 

Day 59 Bridgwater to Williton – Sunday 10 July

Distance 26.75 miles, cumulative 1,044.4 miles, time 10 hrs, walking time 8 hrs 49 mins, pace 3.1 mph, B&B Arden Cottage
We were relieved to escape Bridgwater in one piece after witnessing what passes for Saturday night entertainment in those parts.

We picked our way through to North Petherton and we crossed the M5 for the final time. Steve saw the motorway sign indicating 39 miles to Exeter, the closest we get to home on the route. Lynn dragged him on kicking and screaming. 

Our route to Barnstaple now broadly follows the Macmillan Way West. Initially it was a bit of an obstacle course with fallen trees and funniest of all was a Mexican stand off with a family of cattle. Led by a very determined looking bull, keen to be all macho in front of his girls and children, they steadfastly refused to move off the path which was in a gulley with the fence on one side and a high bank on the other. Not fancying our chances in a fair fight, we detoured up the bank and the bull settled back down for it’s Sunday kip. We did not take any photos in case the bull thought we were going for our gun.

We entered the Quantock Hills at Broomfield, which had a lovely village green and church where we stopped and had some of Mary’s ginger nuts. It was good to get out onto open moorland and climb some hills after the Somerset Levels. We had our first views of the ‘proper seaside’ since day six when we left the Scottish East Coast near Brora. 

We enjoyed panoramic views towards Exmoor, Minehead and over the Severn Estuary including the Hinckley Point power stations.

After a few solitary days on the trail it was refreshing to see plenty of other walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders.

We ticked off another steam railway when we crossed the West Somerset Railway. It is the longest standard gauge independent heritage railway in the UK at 20.5 miles running between Taunton and Minehead operating heritage steam and diesel engines. It has been used a lot for films and TV including: A Hard Days Night, The Belstone Fox, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Casualty and The Flockton Flyer, which Lynn had fun trying to pronounce after her customary few pints this evening (Dartmoor girls only drink pints). 

We finished the day off with a fine Sunday roast before enjoying our last night in a comfy bed before Penzance.