Sunday, September 14, 2008


Famously mispronounced by Americans as Clove-ly, Clovelly lies on the North Devon coast between Hartland and Westward Ho! It is a privately owned village estate and as such an entrance fee is payable as you pass through the visitors centre. £15 for a family ticket (the woman on the desk agreed with me that family tickets should be for three children, but alas they are only for two.) So we paid for an extra child. We also collect two Fun Trail quizes. Oh no! I thought, not more questions we have to search for the answers to instead of just wandering around and enjoying ourselves, but this quiz proved to be both informative and Fun - just like it said on the tin.
I used to come to Clovelly often as a child (you didn't have to pay then), and it has changed little, but I saw places today that I have never seen before. And that was thanks to the quiz. There is a Fishermans Cottage set up as it would have been 100 years ago, complete with old fisherman to direct you to the correct places to look for the answers to the questions. And just next to this is Charles Kingsley's cottage, complete with Charles Kingsley (only a model this time). This cottage is where he lived whilst writing the book Westward Ho!

Clovelly is largely a pedestrian only zone and as you can see from the photo the walk up and down from Visitors Centre to Harbour is along steep cobbled streets. The residents of Clovelly use sledges to transport goods around, and donkeys, and the donkeys are around for the obligatory tourist shots and on certain days for people to ride. Today was their day off.
When we reached the harbour we stopped for an ice cream. There is a pub/hotel at the bottom of the hill and many people were sat along the Quay in the sunshine today drinking beer and wine. That seemed like a good idea to me but my husband was still suffering from a night out with the boys. So we strolled along the Quay walls while I had several small heart-attacks envisioning my children falling off the side, then headed for the long walk back up the hill.
Once back in the Visitors Centre we went to watch the 20 minute introductory video we probably should have watched at the beginning of our visit. I actually found it better this way around as we were shown things we were much better off discovering by ourselves. The video, narrated by Joss Ackland, a resident of Clovelly, answered some of the quiz questions we'd missed out. The quiz was then handed in to the desk, where the children were awarded their prize. I was convinced this would only be a small portion of chocolate by the children were allowed to choose from a selection of small toys. My youngest chose a bouncy ball and the middle one a hanging star mobile thing to put in her room. I was dead impressed. All in all Clovelly is definately worth a visit.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Braunton Burrows

After our meal at the Williams Arms yesterday a brisk walk was in order. So we took the turning just opposite the pub and followed signs to Braunton Burrows and Crow Point. The Burrows is the largest sand dune system in England and is an SSSI, National Nature Reserve and a UNESCO biosphere reserve. There are several different ways to access it but the easiest is to follow the toll road. It cost £1.50 for cars. The single lane road is a mile and 1/4 long and is full of speed bumps but is well worth it for the amount of wildlife you can spot. We saw a white bird we didn't know the name of, moorhens, swans, ducks, and a heron, all in the stream that follows the road.

Once you reach the car park you can either climb the sand ridge over onto the beach or follow the boardwalk for a stroll through the dunes to the same beach but further out towards the estuary. We chose option 2. The landscape in the burrows is very strange with lumps and bumps everywhere. Lots of different vegetation grows. We particularly like the evening primrose. There were bumble bees darting in and out of flowers and lots of different species of butterfly flitting around.
And the beach there are fantastic views across to Appledore and over to Westward Ho! We followed the beach out towards the sea for a while then headed inland again to try the adventure of finding our way back to car park without using the boardwalk. We did eventually manage it and all that up-hill-and-down-dale effort was worth it for the photos I took. I'll post some of these on my PhotoJournal blog tomorrow - just follow the link.

The Williams Arms

This is where we started our last day of the school holidays jaunt yesterday. The Williams Arms is a very popular pub/restaurant in Braunton. You can't miss it (although my husband did nearly drive straight past in his usual I'll-just-follow-the-car-in-front mode), it's to your right just as soon as you enter the village from the dual carriageway. What you see in the photo is the pub half of the building and the restuarant is off to the right on a right angle. The restuarant was fulled booked today so I'd advise booking if you want to eat there.

We arrived fairly early at 12.30 and were able to get a table in the bar, by the time we left it was squashed standing room only as people waited for tables and ours was nabbed very swiftly. In the bar you are able to order from the bar menu and eat from the carvery in the restuarant. We all had carveries. My teenager moaned at this so I only ordered her a children's plate at £4.95. Half way through the meal she then decided that this was OK after all and wished she'd had the adult plate in order to fit more potatoes on. However, when asked which they prefered English roast or French creperie (we've just come back from France) she was the only one to say French creperie!