Friday, 28 September 2012

Coastwalk , South West Coast Path

Clovelly → Hartland Quay

hartland-quay.png Distance: 10.3 miles
Ascent: 677 metres
Duration: 4 hours 18 minutes

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The down-side to walking the coast in parts and out-of-order is that you can get left with little gaps to plug. The remainder of this year's walking will be gap plugging, starting this week with three remaining sections of the South West Coast Path. With any luck, by Tuesday we will have completed this, Britain's longest National Trail.

Each day we'll also have a milestone to celebrate. Little moments like finishing a map or a county are the landmarks that demonstrate we're making progress on the walk, pointing us in the direction of a complete circuit of our island.

mouthmill-cove.pngThe weather has been awful over the past few days, with high rainfall causing flooding right across the country. Consequently we were prepared for the worst, but surprisingly walked the entire day without being rained on. The only evidence of the poor weather was the stream at Mouthmill Cove which was swollen, hiding the promised stepping stones. It wasn't too difficult to get to the other side though, with a little splashing between hopping from boulder to boulder.

The guide books suggest that from Clovelly to Hartland Point there was little ascent or descent. That's not quite true: Mouthmill Cove and Windbury Head near the start of the walk challenged the calves early on.

hartland-point.pngAt Hartland Point the character of the walk changed. From walking to the west, we turned south and faced a much more dramatic landscape: one of rocky ridges pointing out into the Atlantic, rather than the rolling cliffs that faced the Bristol Channel. About the only thing the two sections had in common was the fine view of Lundy (which was absolutely clear, in contrast to the mist that obscured the island when we were here earlier in the year).

Despite the rugged nature of this latter part of the walk, it was no more strenuous than the earlier section and we soon reached the tiny cluster of buildings at Hartland Quay where we celebrated completing the north Devon coast, and the second of the four National Trail Guides to the SWCP.

Unfortunately the lack of public transport on the coast here meant that although our coast walking was over for the day, we still had two and a half miles to walk back to the car in Hartland village itself.

nectan-interior.pngAnd we were grateful even for this coda since it took us through the village of Stoke, where St Nectan's Church dominates the landscape for miles around with its landmark tower. The interior is worth a visit too, featuring a beautiful painted vaulted ceiling and huge, intricate rood screen.

Posted by pab at 21:54 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!