Monday, August 31, 2009

West Down

We went for our traditional end of summer holidays jaunt today. I have to go back to work tomorrow even if the kids don't. We were looking forward to a nice picnic/BBQ out on Exmoor, next to a river we could have a paddle in, etc. But the weather had other ideas. So we went for a walk across the hills over West Down, a tiny village just outside of Braunton, off the A361 - not to be confused with East Down (which my friend and I nearly did - good job our husbands were driving!)

We were trying out my new guide book 'Pub Walks on Exmoor' and have come to the conclusion that its a rubbish book. Everywhere was very muddy. My friends tried the North Molton walk the other day and discovered the same thing. Now I know the book cannot be held responsible for the weather, but I am sure there are places with pubs on Exmoor which are not quite so muddy. Also, it's instructions are not very easy to follow and the map looks like it could have been drawn by a three year old. It's not nearly as straightforward as the Jarrold books. And I am not just saying this because we got lost before we even left the village! A tip for anyone trying the walk with the same book we had: when it says path by the church it actually means path by the little chapple on the other side of the road to the church.

Still we all had some good healthy fresh air and exercise. And walking across the middle of a field with a big brown bull staring you down is probably one of those childhood not-to-be-missed experiences every child should have.

We made it back to the pub in time to order lunch. The meal was very nice, and the chips were gorgeous - just what you need after being so healthy!

Friday, August 28, 2009


We had a family meal here last night, to celebrate daughter no.1's exam results. It's the first time we've taken the children but me and my husband have been here lots before. It's got a great selection of pasta dishes and they always have lovely specials too. There is no children's menu but all the adult meals come in small people sizes too. It's always crowded so if you're thinking of giving it a try I advise booking. One of my favourite restaurants and cheaper than Prezzo.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tractor and Trailer Rides

Run by the National Trust out of Mortehoe Heritage Centre every Tuesday and Wednesday in the Summer seasons, these tractor rides last about an hour and are a fun way to see some stunning scenery off the beaten track. The ride we took today was down some very narrow, leafy lanes and had the odd pedestrian throwing themselves into the hedges to avoid being squat by the tractor, although it was travelling at a sedentary pace. We went down to the Bull Point lighthouse, where people without huge blisters on thier heels were given the option to walk down past the lighthouse. I rested my blisters (from yesterday) and took the tractor back to the road, where it picked up the others. At the back of the trailer a guide told us local tit-bits of information - my only complaint was that he was a bit quiet, so if you're interested in hearing what he has to say as well as taking in the views, sit near the back of the trailer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Castle Hill Gardens

Castle Hill Gardens is located in Filleigh, in between Barnstaple and South Molton off the A361. This weekend they are hosting the English National Sheep Dog Trials and Devon Country Fayre. The house is owned by the Fortescue family and they open the gardens to the public from March to September each year. There are pretty gardens to walk through and a riverside walk. We had a quick look at the gardens today at the end of our visit round the other events, then it started pelting down with rain so we decided to forego the Hockings ice cream (that's how bad it was) and come home.

The Sheep Dog Trials were interesing. It was like watching "Babe" without the pig. But the kids weren't impressed. They liked the dog agility event in the main arena. Then they liked the bits that involved me spend huge amounts of money: the swingboats, archery, and buying homemade fudge from the food tent.

Normal prices for entry into the gardens is £4 for adults and FREE for children under 14!! So probably worth going on a sunny day with a picnic. On a sunny day you also won't have to worry about driving your car through a quagmire to get out. I was a bit worried when the wheels slid from under me that they might have to get a tractor to pull me out.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Croyde Beach

Hello, again! It's been a while since I blogged, we've been a bit busy, and the weather's been a bit rubbish. Today we took advantage of the unusually sunny weather and went for a picnic at Croyde. We usually go to the car park before you get to the village but today decided to enter the beach from the other side, so we drove through Croyde, took the turning to Baggy Point and parked in the National Trust car park. If you've got National Trust membership it is free to park, but you do need to show your card as well as the car sticker. After that its a short walk across the road to a tiny slipway, then a scramble across the rock pools to get to a sand spot. It was very crowded today as you can see from the picture. Croyde beach has life guards, unlike Saunton round the corner, but both beaches were busy today.

We had out picnic first, before we got to sandy, then my husband took the girls into the rock pools with a bucket where they caught some tiny shrimp, crabs and various creatures in shells. Daughter no.1 was very brave and only cried a bit when all 16-and-a-bit stone of her Dad stood on her fingers. None of them wanted to go down to the sea because the tide was out and it was miles away. So we were only there for a couple of hours. The free car park was a good move, the one opposite Ruda is £5 and it doesn't matter how long you stay.