Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beam Weir

On Boxing Day isn't it more or less complusory to go for a walk? Well it is my family - a chance to let the kids blow off some steam and a chance for who ever is cooking the dinner to get on with it in peace and quiet. So when we all arrived at my mum and dad's this afternoon we were imediately shipped out the door again. We met my sister and her family at the Puffing Billy pub, just outside Torrington and from there walked down the Tarka Trail to Beam Weir.

There were lots of other like-minded people out and about, some with dogs, others with children and new bicycles. It's not a very long walk, but it is pretty, once you get past the old, rusty, graffiti-riden railway carriage behind the pub. The weir was seemed quite wild to me and full of muddy brown water. It is a popular spot with local wildlife, otters and kingfishers have been spotted on many occasions, but, not surprisingly, we saw nothing today. Still, the chance to stretch our legs in the sunshine was very pleasant.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Coddon Hill

Well, its Christmas Eve and time to get the kids out of the house for some fresh air and exercise before tomorrow's excitement. Of course all they wanted to do was go to Pizza Hut, they seem to think it's a tradition because we've been for the last two years. So the condition was - walk first, Pizza Hut afterwards.

I decided on Coddon Hill because its one of those places I've heard talked about lots but never actually been to. It's just outside the village of Bishops Tawton and the guide book I looked at said park in the village and follow the path to the top of the hill. Well, that's a 4 mile circular route and although I was all in favour of exercise that might just have finished us all off so we decided to drive up the hill a bit and see if there was anywhere to park. 10 minutes later we'd driven all the way round the hill through Bableigh and were back in Bishops Tawton! "Oh lets just go and park on the road up the hill a bit," I said. And what did we find on our second route round? A lovely car park. It's slightly hidden off the road a bit, but keep your eyes peeled for a dirt track to your left and you'll find it too.

It was quite wind up there. We followed the path out of the car park and up the hill and soon found ourselves right where we wanted to be, by the monument. This is a monument to Caroline Thorpe, wife of ex-MP Jeremy Thorpe, who died in 1970 aged 32. Around the monument is a stone compass with the names of the villages you can see from the 360 degree vantage point. You can see north to Exmoor and South East to Dartmoor and today we could just make out the shadow of Lundy Island to the West. We didn't have good visability at all today, hence the rather odd photo of a sheep with Barnstaple in the background. I think we'll come back on a clear day and I'll post some better photos.

After being blown about by the wind a bit we followed a sheltered path back to another hidden car park, then walked along the road til we got back to the car. We'd sucessfully blown the cobwebs away and worked off a few calories before piling them (and more) back on over the next few days.