Today’s distance walked – approx 22.4kms (13.9 miles).
Ascent – approx 1011m (3416ft).
I was woken by the cacophany of the dawn chorus at 5.25am. The main guilty parties were numerous plump wood pigeons (nothing like their scraggy, ratty urban counterparts) and several blackbird and crow families. I was pleased to see that the tent wasn’t at all wet with dew. I had my little custard donuts and a sachet of Nescafé + milk which was surprisingly ok.
I left the campsite at 7.40am. As usual, 20 minutes after leaving somewhere with a loo, I needed the toilet rather urgently. The difficult thing about hiking in urban areas (especially in Britain) is that there is never a toilet when you need one. I couldn’t make it back to the village, but there was a rather posh hotel coming up, which was open, and they kindly let me use theirs use theirs!
I passed Watermouth Castle (my first castle en-route) and arrived into Hele at around 9.20am. The path to Hele was an allergy sufferers nightmare. The path was really narrow, and the foliage on both sides was taller than me, and comprised of every grass imaginable and of course, stinging nettles.
What seemed like an age later, but which was actually only 10.00am, I arrived into the cute little town of Ilfracombe.
You’ll note the ‘combe’ in the place names here in the South West of England. Essentially a combe is a valley or dip in the side of a hill – similar to cwm in Welsh.
lfracombe is a perfect example of the particularly British seaside town. It has a rich history, a pretty little harbour, a mix of old and new, shops selling tat they sold when I was a kid, and lots of families, dogs, seagulls, ice-cream shops, fish n chipperies, amusement arcades and a crazy golf course.
I lazily wandered through the town and headed off up the hill to Torrs Park, an area of great big rocks jutting out of the cliffs. From here it was up and down, and up and down all the way to a tiny village near a little cove, called Lee. I had a very average Ploughman’s lunch in the Grampus pub (no pickled onions, or huge hunk of bread..)
After lunch it was back up to the beautiful clifftops to Bull Point lighthouse. This made me think that it would be cool to have a job as a lighthouse keeper for a six month stint somewhere really remote. I’ll have to add that to my ‘for research’ list, given that I have no idea what I will do when I return to normal life.
From Bull Point it was an amazing hike across to Morte Point. I even saw a fat grey seal in the water far below.
Morte Point, which is so called because of all the shipwrecks and deaths that happened there (five in 1852 alone) was an incredible sight. The swift sea current sweeps around from Morte Bay and Woolacombe, smashing into the rocks just beneath the surface for some distance off the point, churning up the sea. You can see how so many ships would get smashed into it.
I was tired when I got into Woolacombe and went for a Mr Whippy. Today had been super hot again! I didn’t look around town but made my way straight down the beach to the dunes. I made a wild-camp-spot-recce excercise, then sat on the beach until about 6.30pm. I couldn’t wait any longer, so I put up my tent in a nice patch I’d found in the dunes and ate some fruit and croissant for dinner.
It was really weird wild camping so close to civilisation. A few dog walkers went past later on, but my vestibule faced the other way, and no-one approached me 🙂