Monday, December 24, 2012

Wimbleball Lake

We were after a nice easy stroll this afternoon, nowhere too muddy or wet after all the rain and floods, and somewhere easy to drive to. We opted for Wimbleball Lake and a walk up to a small village called Withiel Florey. We didn't make it that far.

We were supposed to be finding a free car park near a bridge across the northern end of the lake. What we managed to find was the pay and display car park at the activity centre in the middle of the west side of the lake. We got out and walked anyway. The dog loved it, she ran round like a mad thing sniffing goodness only knows what. We walked towards the north end of the lake, along nice man-made, largely mud-free paths. The sun shone. It was lovely.

Then we found the bridge where we were supposed to have parked. We tramped along the edge of the lake through muddy fields, across the road and into a nature reserve. It was quite muddy, but also pretty and offered great views of the lake. If we'd have had more time we'd have kept going on up into Withiel Florey, but we'd been walking for nearly an hour by then and weren't even half way round. We had no choice but to turn around or we'd still have been walking when it got dark.

Not long after that the heavens opened and we got drenched. Good job we were on our way back. I'm not a big fan of the there-and-back-again walk. I prefer to go around in circles and see something I haven't already seen. Still, it was nice to get out. Perhaps we will make it all the way into the village next time, and see the other side of the lake.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Morte Point

Amazingly the sun actually came out this morning. Taking advantage of this rarity we all donned wellies and headed for the the coast. We were actually out and strolling around Mortehoe by 11.30am despite the protests from my teenager and pre-teen about needing to do homework. Serves them right for spending all their waking hours watching telly.

From the tiny village of Mortehoe we followed signs past a church and pub towards Morte Point. There were many other families of walkers around, some with dogs, some without. The views from the cliffs were stunning. We took a slight detour at one point and instead of coming at Morte Point from the south arrived at it from the north. The path to the south was littered with sheep and we decided not to put the dog on the lead. There are footpaths that criss-cross the headland however, and its easy to take any one of them.

Once down at Morte Point the cliff path heads towards Rockham Bay and on towards Bull Point Lighthouse. We followed it as far as Rockham Bay and then headed back to the village. The path hugs the coast although you are balanced right atop the cliffs. It is possible to look down at the rocks where the seals like to play. We didn't spot any today, but we did meet people who had. Perhaps if we'd have stayed for longer on the many seats and benches that grace the path we'd have been lucky too. We'll have to come back another day.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Baggy Point in Summer

 If walks along the edge of cliffs are your thing then you really must try the walk from Croyde to Baggy Point, its stunning. I walked the dog there yesterday late afternoon with daughters no.2 and 3, although 3 moaned a lot about not wanting to go for a walk. Aside from that it was glorious. There was cloud in Barnstaple, but it was boiling in Croyde and it wasn't long before we were all wishing we hadn't worn jeans.

At the far end of Croyde, nearest to Baggy Point, is a National Trust car park. The sign on entry read 'Parking £5' (although it is free to NT card holders). I arrived at 4.45 and wasn't at all happy about the price given that were only going to walk the dog to Baggy Point and back again. The guy said at this time of day we only had to pay £2, they just didn't bother to adjust the sign. Thank goodness for that.

The walk is 3/4 of a mile from the car park. I have blogged about it before, but the last time we came out was the dead of winter. It's very different in summer. We met lots of other dog walkers, saw sea gulls and comorants on the rocks and black sheep grazing at the top of the point. There were even climbers still on the rocks, if you look closely you can see them in the photo.
Several times the dog gave me kittens when she went too close to the edge but we walked on the higher path on the way back and that made me less nervous. The coast path goes all the way round to Woolacombe but that signpost said 4 miles, it was getting late and daughter no.3 would have had a fit if we'd decided to go on. We opted for an ice cream in Croyde instead.

When we got back to the car park the kiosk was all closed up, even though the sign said parking until 9 o'clock. I suspect if I'd've arrived after 5 o'clock I might have got away with not paying altogether. I'll have to test that theory next time.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ilfracombe Princess

This was the best picture I could get of the Ilfracombe Princess this afternoon without actually losing my place in the queue. Then when we came in it was to a different spot in the harbour and the view was even worse. If you google it, you will find their website easily enough and it will give you a much better picture.

The Ilfracombe Princess offers cruises around the coast of North Devon. We went on the Seal cruise today, in search of seal's, strangley enough, but they also run one which goes east out of Ilfracombe in search of other wildlife, caves and waterfalls. Cruises last an hour and half and the friendly captain of the boat offers an informative commentry as needed. We travelled west in deep water towards Woolacombe and stopped to turn around at Morte Point on the north side of the beach. From their the return journey took us slowly along the coast hugging the shore line and stopping frequently to search for the elusive seals. We spotted one bobbing his head up and down out of the water until the yellow helicopter from Chivenor flew overhead, circled the boat and frightened him away. Later we saw another, swimming around a little cave. Our captain told us that there are around 20 who live in those waters, but where they were today was anybodies guess.

We saw some different birds - seagulls, an oyster catcher, commorants ("Is that a penguin?" my 13 year old neice asked, much to the amusement of those nearby). And got a good look at villages and beaches from a different vantage. It was nice to be in a cool breeze but still enjoy the sunshine.

Tickets cost £12 for adults, £6 for children and under 5s go free. If you are thinking of making a trip I recommend phoning to reserve your tickets as it is very popular. Also, trip times are different each day according to the tides. I really enjoyed it and I don't even like boats!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Berrynarbor and the coast path

 We took the dog and the children out for a walk today. Strangely neither of them moaned, although daughter no.2 was initially reluctant to exchange her jeans for shorts as she hadn't shaved her legs! She was persuaded in the end and was probably glad she had because the temperature outside was showing 26 degrees. It was lovely.

We drove out towards Combe Martin and parked up in the tiny village of Berrynarbor, proudly displaying it 'Prettiest Village' award on entry signs and near the local church. We headed uphill out of the village in the direction of the Sandy Cove hotel where we found the local coast path. We were hoping to find some caves we saw marked on the OS Map but when we got to that point the coast was barred with hedges and a campsite.
We did find the path down the cliff to Broadstrand Cove, which looks very beautiful. However the 227 steps down to the bottom are down an almost vertical cliff and after going about one third of the way down the girls and I chickened out, thinking of the long walk back up. My husband and the dog went down and both were very puffed out when then made it back up again. Perhaps we'll go another day.

Pilton Green Man Festival

Yesterday we made our annual trip to the Pilton Green Man Festival. It is right on our doorstep so not to go would be rude. And this year it was blessed with lovely weather - no rain, although slightly overcast at times. It was packed out by about 2.30 when we got there.

Pilton Street is lined on either sides with stalls of tombolas, jewelery, clothes, cakes, etc. There are three sound stages which always cause bottlenecks, and the local pubs, hotels and chip shop are all open for business. It's a great atmosphere and everyone has a good time.

We made our way up to Rotary Gardens off the top of Pilton Street, to find the Hockings Ice Cream van. Then a walk round the stalls in Rotary Gardens (the tent with Indian Head Massage looked inviting, but I didn't go in) led us back into Pilton Street where we sat on the pavement in the sunshine and had a beer. After that it was back home, stopping to spend a bit of money on the stalls as we went.

There are pagents and street entertainment, and a look at my earlier post on Green Man day will give you all the information you need.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Roadford Lake

Roadford Lake is outside North Devon, but only just. It's on the North West edge of Dartmoor just past Okehampton, so not too far away really, and an hour and a bit drive from most places in North Devon. If its a nice day, it's worth a visit.

There are lots of walks from the Visitor's Centre on the east side of the lake, mostly along nice gravel cycle paths. I visited on Thursday and Friday with a bunch of school children, and we were dropped off 4km from the Visitor's Centre. Unortunately we were given a defective map and it took us some time to find the nice gravel cycle track, by which time we were all very muddy, having tramped through woodland and fields. Still, the children enjoyed it - mostly. I recommend starting from the Visitor's Centre, then you can't go wrong. It also has a nice cafe, with lovely cakes.

A short ferry ride across the lake you will find the Outdoor and Active Centre. Here you can try your hand at many water sports :sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, etc. They also have an indoor climbing and bouldering wall, archery, and high ropes. On Friday the children tried a few of these out. I went out in a row boat with one of my colleagues. I also made it as far at the top of the tower at the start of the high ropes course, but no further. It just looked a long way down. I wish I'd done it now, but I suppose there's always next year!

Next to the Outdoor Centre is a campsite. We were almost the only ones there on Thursday night. Everyone else had more sense. It was raining and blowing a gale all night. The facilities are good though, nice wash room and showers, an undercover picnic area, a large barbeque. If all this sounds like your cup of tea, I would recommend a visit. I'd go down again, perhaps with the dog and the children - although next time I might give the camping a miss.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Robber's Bridge

I have written about this place before, but as it is six years now since I have been writing this blog, I thought I would need to revisit some of the places I have written about for the benefit of new readers.

We took advantage of the lovely weather yesterday and went for a picnic, knowing that today we would be the only part of the country under a raincloud! It was gorgeous there, and, as most other people had headed for the beaches, we were one of only two families to occupy the spot. This may also be because very few people either a) know about it, or b) want to undertake the trek to get there.

Robber's Bridge is located at the East end of Doone Valley on Exmoor. From Barnstaple it is a 45 minute drive past Lynton and Lynmouth heading in the direction of Porlock. You will find it down a narrow country lane with sharp corners and room for only one car to pass at a time. It is a beautiful spot with nothing at all there, not even an ice-cream van. Perfect. My favourite picnic spot.

We ate our sandwiches, threw the ball for the dog, and went paddling in the river. I sunbathed and my husband and daughter no.2 played with my camera. It was so hot even the dog vountarily went paddling, and she hates water!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


 Muddiford is a tiny little village about three miles outside of Barnstaple on the old road to Woolacombe. For the majority of people it is driven through, a means to an end, rarely stopped in.

Today I discovered it has plenty of features to recommend it, not the least of which is its surrounding countryside. I walked up a side road to the right of the phonebox, heading towards Viveham Farms. And I soon found myself tramping along country lanes next to babbling streams. These lanes took me up to the farms, then on through a few fields and up onto high ground. I could see for miles. Birds chirruped, small animals rustled in the hedgerows enticing my dog, and flowers of every shade added splashes of colour to the sun-brightened greenery. It was great. I expected to get thoroughly muddy but amazingly everywhere was dry.

As its not far from my home I think the dog and I will be out here walking again. Next time I'll bring some money so I can visit another pleasant looking feature of this village - the pub.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Westleigh Inn

Just outside of Instow, on the way to Bideford, is a small turning signposted 'Westleigh'. Westleigh is a tiny little village on a hill overlooking the river Torridge. Despite it's diminuative size and narrow windy roads it attracts many visitors because of the reputation of its local pub.

The Westleigh Inn has two indoor rooms with plenty of tables and comfy sofas, and a large beer garden with spectacular views of the estuary and a selection of play equipment for children. We arrived here at lunchtime today and despite the car park seeming quite crowded we found a table for seven of us with no difficulty at all. The meals were reasonably priced, a burger and chips coming in at around the £8 mark, the bar staff friendly and there wasn't long to wait until the food arrived on our table. If you are passing and you're hungry or in need of a break, it's worth a small detour.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


This afternoon will become known as the Sheep Walk. We went to the tiny village of Challacombe on Exmoor to follow a walk I found on the internet. It took us through the village, along the path of a pretty brook and through a woodland of tall trees out into the fields above. Here there were many sheep. The dog went off the lead, on the lead, off the lead, on the lead.
All the fields had lambs, some of whom were shooed out of our way by their mums, some of whom were very curious and came running almost straight up to us. One of the fields, very close to the farm, had loads of sheep and lambs, all of whom came running over to us thinking we had food. They soon became disappointed and wandered off again but the girls had great fun watching them.
It was a great little walk, only 2.5 miles long, and not to strenous. I think it may have taken us less time if we hadn't stopped to admire the lambs quite so often, but it was nice to get out. Before we came back we stopped in the Black Venus pub for a drink and a game of pool. A great way to spend Easter Sunday. If you want to try it yourself then follow the link below. I can recommend it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Bideford Estuary Walk

This was a nice little walk I did on Sunday. I started in Bideford Park and followed the exit through the car park behind the Rubgy Club. There are houses there now (they weren't there when I was a little girlie) but the public footpaths are still clearly signposted. I walked behind the houses next to the river bank, and then under the new bridge.
From there you can walk down onto a small beach at low tide, or take the high tide path. You end up in Limers Lane, full of beautiful houses I would like but will never be able to afford. After this a fork in the road takes you right into Appledore Woods and as far round the coast as you would like to go. I opted for the left fork and a muddy country lane up to my mum and dads where I was lucky enough to get a roast dinner (after I'd bathed my muddy dog, of course).

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Instow Beach

Instow in winter is place of driftwood and dunes, but arrive at any given daylight hour on a weekend and you are bound to encounter dog-walkers also. My dog loves it and whined this morning when I didn't open the car door quick enough.

If you are lucky you might chance upon a parking space along the narrow sea front where, once all spaces have gone, cars can only travel in single file. I usually opt to park in the dunes-end car park, a small patch of potholes and sand next to, strangely enough, the dunes. This means me and the aforementioned dog get to start our walk along the paths that criss-cross through the dunes and the dog gets to run round sniffing like a mad-thing.
It can be windy on the beach in winter, but the sand is usually wet and doesn't blow around too much. The beach is at the edge of the river Torridge, not the sea, so opposite are views of picturesque village Appledore. And if you don't have a dog to worry about you can always pop into The Boathouse for a quick drink or a leisurely meal - ideal after all that exercise.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Saunton Beach and the Sands Cafe

Time for a breath of fresh air after being stuck inside for days. Lots of other people had the same idea as us and took their dogs for a walk along the beach. It was very bracing. And, despite it being New Years Day, the Sands Cafe, placed fortuitiously between beach entrance and car park, was open. So after running the dog ragged we left her in the car and went for a drink of hot chocolate.
Parking charges still apply to Saunton car park, although rates are reduced in the winter months to £2. We did notice, however, that as we left the hatch was closed, so, if you want to save a few bob, arrive after 3.00 and you may be lucky. Hot chocolates in the cafe cost £2.95. They also serve cooked meals and snacks.