The sun was shining again. We headed off to investigate a few coastal spots.
Woolacombe lies to the west of us and sports a wide expanse of sand facing west into any rollers that might have arrived on our shores from the Atlantic. Like its brethren on the north coast of Cornwall, it is a magnet for surfers who seem to find it amusing to paddle away from shore and sit waiting for a decent wave to ride for a couple of seconds. Repeat. Being flat and rather featureless, other than heaving with surfers, It does not form a photographically interesting coastline.
Without pause, we continued north along the coastal road which eventually climbed up into an attractive village called Mortehoe. Mortehoe does not have beaches but cliffs, so is much more our scene. At the entrance to the village car park (£1 an hour) was a sign indicating various walks along to and around said cliffs. We opted for £2-worth to enjoy something we hadn’t really done since we were last in Cornwall, a coast path walk. Still suffering from my accursed plantar fasciitis since December last year, I was a little apprehensive to see how things would go but this is basically something that you simply have to grin and bear. I took a trekking pole to assist.
Walking out of the village past the local cemetery overlooking the waves below, I couldn’t help but think that a little more coastal erosion could see these dearly departed soles being buried for a second time … this time at sea. The coastal scenery here was much more breath-taking with cliffs descending to craggy rocks, waves and seagulls crying atmospherically. Sheep, strangely relaxed at our presence, stared at us with an uncharacteristic lack of interest as we passed; whilst not exactly running scared, sheep normally saunter away to gain space. I was doing well on the level and on any descents. The same was not true when it came to climbing back up those descents. Here, it was not my right PF foot that was causing problems but my left knee which began whingeing and feeling a little less than secure. Having had eight months at less than my normal level of activity, various other body parts grumble when pressed into sudden action. Plantar fasciitis really is a bastard condition that western medicine seems powerless to address. Note to self: I really must adopt more of the grin-and-bear it attitude.
Lee, on the northern coast, was another cove that Francine was interested in investigating. We changed out of our walking boots and set off. “There’s a narrow road or a wider road we could go down”, said Francine. Narrow Devon roads are an education; they are frequently not only narrow, a single track with passing places, but lined with hedgerows hiding unforgiving rock walls. we opted for the wider option. The wider option turned out to be a single track road with the occasional passing place. Most worrying was grass growing down the middle of the road. Beware roads with grass down the middle. Eventually, we arrived unscathed at Lee itself. The car park was full – over full actually, with some plonker parked blocking half the entrance into it and another driver with his hopes dashed reversing back out of it. ‘T was difficult to imagine quite what the alternative narrower road down into Lee might actually have been like but somehow I managed a 3-point turn at the bottom of it so we could retrace our steps and run the single track, grass adorned gauntlet back out. Lined with steep cliffs to the east and west, Lee was such that there’d be no evening light falling into it anyway.
In the early evening we set off to see what Croyde Bay was like. This necessitated going back through Braunton, site of our northbound traffic jam on our way in. Now we hit a southbound traffic jam of half a mile or so on our way out. Eventually we made it to the traffic lights and turned right, a.k.a. west. Now we saw a real traffic jam. Croyde Bay is another surfer magnet. The surfers were largely now heading home, or trying to. They were stuck in another of Braunton’s jams stretching for a mile and a half or so. With just a handful of vehicles getting through the lights on each change, they were going to be there for some time. We have renamed Braunton; it is now called Bottleneck.
It’s damn difficult to get anywhere in this little neck of north Devon. The small roads are little more than cart tracks and the larger roads are clogged with surfers and holiday makers. Croyde Bay was predictably rather uninteresting (unless you are a surfer) and, desperate to avoid another brush with Bottleneck, we picked our way back to Guillaume along some cart tracks.
The walk at Mortehoe had been fun.