SWCP Day 4. Woolacombe to Barnstaple

The sun breaks through at Croyde Bay

Today’s distance walked – approx 33kms (20.5miles).
Ascent – approx 380m (1246ft)

I felt decidedly shabby this morning. I was sleeping on a slope and woke up at what seemed like 30 minute intervals, wondering if there was a human outside my tent. On one occasion I was woken by something that sounded like a possum, but there are no possums in the UK so I’m none the wiser.

Dawn over Woolacombe Bay
Dawn over Woolacombe Bay

I made a coffee and ate a croissant for breakfast and got under way at 6.50am. I battled through then up the dunes and into the headland overlooking Morte Bay. I rounded Baggy Point and came into Croyde Bay at about 8.30am.

Horned sheep on Baggy Point
Horned sheep on Baggy Point

Today was cloudy and not nearly as hot as the past couple of days, but still no need to wear anything except a singlet and shorts combo. Nothing was open in Croyde, so I paused for a museli bar and a rest overlooking the bay.

Looking East back to Croyde Bay
Looking East back to Croyde Bay

I continued along a decidedly unremarkable grassy and stinging nettle infested pathway to Seaton. The official pathway takes hikers behind the 5km long beach, through the golf course then through Braunton Burrows (a biosphere reserve for nature conservation). This lengthy, sandy military road was littered with dog poo. Clearly everyone in North Devon comes here to take their dog for a poo and doesn’t bother to clear it up. When I paused for lunch I read in the guidebook that most people prefer to take the alternative route among the beach, sigh…

English hiking hazards
English hiking hazards

I hit the estuary of the Taw and Torridge rivers, and headed inland to Velator on the edge of Braunton. The estuary can’t be crossed at the mouth, so it’s a day’s walk around it. From Braunton the trail follows an old railway line by the side of the estuary to Barnstaple. The tide was out, the path was flat and tarmac so I found it pretty tedious to be honest.. but.. it sure beats road walking!

Walking the flood bank into Velator near Braunton
Walking the flood bank into Velator, near Braunton

I got into Barnstaple, went to Marks & Spencer food hall for some goodies, then booked into a beautiful b&b in town called The Old Vicarage. I had been intending to camp tonight but I needed to charge all my electronics (no sun to charge the solar panel today) and write my blog, plus I needed a really good shower, and, err… Any other excuse I can think of 😉

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