Wednesday arrived and weather wasn’t looking great so a bit of sight seeing was in order. Ilfracombe was chosen and after a short drive we headed for the small harbour. Driving past the variety of shops we entered the harbour car park and pulled up near the aquarium.
The sea was in and the harbour was brimming with a multicoloured display of sails bobbing around on the waves, which when you looked downwards from the high walkway you could see they were attached to a variety of boats from some of the largest fishing boats right down to the smallest two man dingy.
A statue of Verity looks out to sea, standing at over 66ft she looked very impressive with the low dark clouds as a back drop. As a creation of Damien hurst she was made in his well known style and she was stood on a pile of law books, in her left hand a sword held high and in the other scales behind her back. Walking slowly round her conversations could be heard and the opinions expressed moved from mild shock at the intricate detail of the internal workings of a mother-to-be and the facial beauty expressed on the complete wholesome side. Our conclusion, powerful, beautiful and fearsome.
We walked on and decided to give the aquarium a go, we found it in the Old Lifeboat House and entered through the small gift shop, prices for example £4.50 for adult (16+) or £15.00 for two adults and two children. An introduction to the aquarium was given and a quiz for any kids to complete on the walk round was handed out. The aquarium was small but very informative, covering all the local sea life from an Exmoor stream down to the Atlantic Ocean. At the rear there is a Café should you wish to give it a try.
Next we had to hunt down some fudge which really wasn’t a problem, you just had to follow the sweet smell of melted sugar to find the nearest shop. We found Roly’s Fudge, directly opposite the pier. We stood outside one of the windows and watched a master craftsman at work, on a huge slab of marble he pushed, pulled and moulded an enormous piece of soft brown fudge around. He eventually made a long oblong and with extreme speed and precision sliced it into 1 inch slabs. Mouth watering to watch and in typical style we had to sample a small selection. There was a huge variety to choose from, the chilli one caught one of us out and was different to say the least.
Thursday was a much better day to wake to. The sun was peeping through the pop up roof and the temperature could already be felt as we opened the awning side door. Today was definitely a beach day so off to Croyde we went.
We left Pod around noon and followed the signs for Croyde which brought us to a car park and appeared to lead directly down to the beach. £5 for the day and open till 10pm, we thought that was a bargain.
Down a few steps and past the toilets we soon had soft fine sand between our toes. The beach was busy with people, children and surfboards. Across the sun hazed sand an array of colours dotted the beach but everyone was spaced out and we soon found a spot just below the sand dunes. After a couple of attempts (right pole for the right hole !) the beach tent was erected and towels strategically placed for maximum tanning effect, suncream was slapped on and the baking commenced.
Between rolling over like a basting chicken, eating the odd ice cream, applying more sun cream and having the odd 40 winks all went like clockwork, until during one of those important tasks a distant thumping drone was slowly getting nearer.
We looked up to see an RNLI Sea King fly overhead and then the RNLI staff on the beach kick into action. They were on a jet ski within seconds and bumping over the waves going at some speed in the same direction as the helicopter which was by now circling a specific spot a short distance out to sea. All the surfers stopped what they were doing and made their way to shore. Every head on the beach had popped up like meerkats on a sand dune and were all motionless looking in one direction.
A winchman (yes it’s that whether male or female) was slowly being lowered into the waves and a few seconds later appeared again with another figure in tow. No sooner were they being winched up they were going down again into the sea and the winchman was returning to the helicopter empty handed. It did another circuit of the bay before returning to the same spot to go through the same process again. At first we were very concerned as it appeared to us they were having problems with the rescue but on the fourth attempt with a sigh of relief from us it became clear it was a training exercise.
This went on for approximately 20 minutes, it was incredible to watch as they manoeuvred around the bay, stopped, hovered over the sea and hit the same spot every time.
Our lazy beach day went from being event free to watching an orchestrated display from the RNLI.
The following day looked as good weather wise but L.B. woke to some painful sunburn so that put the stops on spending another day on the beach, besides you can have too much of a good thing.
Barnstable looked the order for the day so after L.B. had plastered herself in sun cream off we went.
The river Taw is tidal and runs through Barnstaple to the coast, we parked on one side near to the trading estate and walked over the bridge into the centre of Barnstaple. We walked along narrow roads with tall 3 storey shops looming over casting cool shadows for L.B. to dart into.
We found ourselves at the indoor Pannier Market and were welcomed by an array of fresh fruit and vegetables, various tables selling home-made wares and brick-a-brac.
All the produce was locally grown and we delved in and bought a selection of vegetables, a couple of boxes of strawberries and a nice tub of fresh clotted cream. A healthy salad was planned on our return home and we can be forgiven the clotted cream, we’re on holiday.
Saturday arrived and we decided to go out on foot and do a bit of exploring. An O.S. map had been ordered prior to our holiday but it didn’t arrive in time so our adventure would be down to our own personal sense of direction and good weather to guide us.
We set off through the farm and headed in the direction of the coast with the intention of trying to find Bull Point Lighthouse. A searched was conducted for its location via one of our phone travel apps and off we headed in its believed direction. We didn’t plan on taking too long so left with the appropriate back packs, weather gear, water, a bag of crisps, an apple and half a pack of jaffa cakes . Not the best food provisions we know and time would test our resolve.
After cutting through farmland and following a narrow road for a short while we could see over the hedgerow the general direction we were after and decided to follow a less walked public footpath. Through the gate we went, dodging holes and nettles and reached a peak in the belief we had reached the top, but no, beyond this was another so we located a well-worn footpath and trundled along up in the sunshine.
This brought us through bramble lined hedges and a view of the lighthouse in the distance broke through gaps as we moved along. We walked down a steep slope and along the open moor land stopping to look back towards Rockham Beach. The fresh air whipped around us and the view was amazing.
A walk round the sides of the lighthouse brought us very close to the edge, a sheer drop at some places, it was impossible to get too close as the building was surrounded by a 3ft metal fence. The lighthouse itself wasn’t your typical expected style and was slightly disappointing to view. Its predecessor had fallen into the sea and this looked characterless and austere.
After stopping for our bag of crisp and an apple we continued to walk along the coast towards Lee Bay. As the weather was with us and the scenery breath taking neither of us could decide at which point to veer right and return to the camp site, so recharged with our light lunch and jaffa cakes in reserve we plodded on.
We continued following our noses and this lead us to a country road pointing us in the direction of Lee Bay. A small bar and café sat along the coastal road with pretty flowered gardens surrounding the quay.
After finding the local public toilets we attempted to reconfigure our baring’s, half convinced we headed in the direction of what we believed to be Borough Woods and we wound our way over a muddy footpath through a thick tall wooded area protecting us from what had turned into a gloriously hot sunny day.
We were going along swimmingly and took a sharp turn to our right when we were met with the steepest incline we had yet to face. With only half a pack of jaffa cakes to suffice this had the possibility of turning into a last gasp for the camp sight.
Our view looked out onto a familiar area of farmland with the coast to our right, a rough idea was gaged in which to travel so a more leisurely pace was put underfoot and we walked across open farm land and through a recently sewn field (with the farmers permission) to Pod who even though she had been sat in the burning sun she was cool and welcoming to collapse into and believe us we did.