Archive for September 2018

North Devon – By River and Coast   10 comments


We’d been planning a trip to Exmoor as we’d never really been there but the day dawned, dank, grey and miserable and by the time we’d eaten breakfast there was heavy drizzle falling. Time for a change of plan


We headed to Watersmeet, a series of small waterfalls in a deep wooded valley where the  East Lyn and Hoaroak Water rivers meet – hence the name


I figured down in the depths of the valley and the woods we might get some shelter from the rain and that proved correct


It was pretty dank and dark down there but we enjoyed a nice stroll along one bank and back along the other.


There were some lovely cascades and pools that would have been good for a swim on a more encouraging day



The light was pretty poor though so the photographs didn’t come out too well


We headed into Lynmouth for a spot of lunch (crab salad for me and TJF, cream teas for TBF and TJS). It actually stopped raining and we took a wander about



The longest water powered cliff railway in the UK (possibly the only one!)


And an interesting tower on the harbour wall that made a nice photo subject



We wanted to explore the coast a bit and headed for the Valley of Rocks. I used to love it here when I was a kid. The rocky pinnacles overlooking the coast always seemed so dramatic and exciting (in the days before I discovered mountain walking). We parked up in an utterly miserable spell of heavy drizzle but I spied a bright line on the horizon and we waited for the rain to stop which it duly did


We took an excellent walk around the various features. This is looking back to Rugged Jack


And this is the coastal view from the top of Castle Rock


It looked bright and sunny over south Wales which we hoped was heading our way but it never really arrived (although we’d seen the last of the rain)





Looking back to Castle Rock


There is a walkway that traverses along the seaward side of the rocky ridge and you can climb to the top and scramble along if so inclined




As we’d left TJF in the car we thought we’d better head back and make sure she still had a phone signal to avert any boredom!


The resident goats


And the view of the Valley and the Rocks


We still had a more time to fill so we drove on a mile our so for another walk to a “secret” beach from my Wild guides.


This is Lee Bay where we started from and it proved to be a longer and more strenuous walk than we’d thought


We were heading for this magnificent beach near Crock Point. You had to scramble through an overgrown tunnel through the hedge and descend a slope that had ropes fixed such was the steepness (the book had warned us of this)



It really was steep and near the bottom, even with ropes it felt very loose and exposed so even I decided it was too risky. The photo below shows the ropes but doesn’t really do justice to how steep it was


The views were excellent though and I enjoyed a little bit of adventure to finish the day


When we returned to the campsite there was a Fish and Chip van on site and very good it was too


The sun finally came out and gave us a wonderful sunset


I took a very fine walk around the site and the local fields to enjoy the show



Always good to end a day by the coast with a grand sunset


North Devon – Ilfracombe   10 comments


Happy Birthday to TBF and what better way to celebrate than a trip to Ilfracombe – doesn’t everyone do that?


I must have been here a few times in my youth but I don’t recall it that much but it’s rather splendid. It has some nice views along the coast, an interesting harbour, beaches and nice walks


It also now has a Damien Hirst sculpture overlooking the harbour. Its called “Verity”


Description from his website:

“Verity is an allegory for truth and justice. Her stance is taken from Edgar Degas’s ‘Little Dancer of Fourteen Years’ (c. 1881). An anatomical cross- section of her head and torso reveal her skull and the developing foetus inside her womb.

Verity stands on a base of scattered legal books and holds the traditional symbols of Justice – a sword and scales. Representing truth, her scales are hidden and off-balance behind her back, whilst her sword is held confidently in her upstretched arm.

She was fabricated in bronze in over 40 individual sand castings at Pangolin Editions foundry, in Gloucestershire. Her phosphor-bronze surface is 20 millimetres thick and her internal support structure is a single piece of stainless steel. The sculpture is weather and lightning-proof and underwent extensive wind-tunnel-testing to ensure her capability of withstanding the force of high winds and sea spray. After two years of planning and production, Verity arrived in Ilfracombe in three parts in October 2012. After a week’s assembly on site, the sculpture was hoisted into final position using a 250 tonne crane.”


As with most Damien Hirst work, its very odd but an arresting and interesting sight


We scoffed a pasty and crab sandwich lunch sitting on the harbour wall, watched a mock lifeboat rescue in the harbour and walked up to the Chapel of St Nicholas that overlooks the harbour




There is a fine coastal walkway on the seaward side of Capstone Hill





Finishing off our visit with a climb up Capstone Hill itself for more fine views




It was actually pretty hot and sunny by the time we left so we swiftly headed to the beach for more kayaking and body boarding. It turned out to be some of the best surf for many years and we both (TBF and me) had a cracking afternoon. When we were back at the campsite the Waverley Steam Ship ploughed past for us


To finish off the birthday treats we went back to Ilfracombe for a seafood supper at the excellent Espresso Seafood bar. TJF had her first taste of Lobster which she was very pleased about and the rest of us shared a number of seafood small plates. It was all delicious.

A couple of pictures of the two ladies in my life, the two Funsters



Hopefully TBF will agree that was a pretty good birthday


Sun, sea and seafood (Ilfracombe doesn’t begin with an “S” unfortunately)

North Devon – Westward Ho! and Hartland Point   15 comments


Short little post from a day out on our North Devon weekend.


A grey day prompted a day out so we headed for Westward Ho! (only place name in the UK with an exclamation mark) and where I spent many happy family holidays as a kid


Safe to say its changed a lot since then. We visited around 10 years ago and it seemed very run down and sad. Since then they seem have improved things a great deal. Many of the very old chalets seems to have been renovated and the general area looks much happier and welcoming (it looked like an army barracks before). The only blight is that the planning department have allowed developers to build two huge apartment blocks right on the seafront. They obscure the view for many and as you’d expect all the money was spent on the interiors and the front. The rear which is what most people see is just an ugly wall of concrete. Really beggars belief that someone looked at the plans and thought that was fine. Makes you suspicious as the motivations of the people that approve such things!


Anyway we took a stroll along the seafront and around the seawater pool in the rocks which was still pleasant



We had a very nice lunch in a Thai restaurant and then took a wander on to the beach. We were hoping to do some body boarding and surfing but the waves looked a bit feeble



Afterwards we wanted a walk on the coast so headed to the dramatic headland at Hartland.



Right on cue just as we stepped from the car it started to drizzle. We went out anyway and enjoyed the briefest of wanders onto the top of the headland with views out over the rocks to the island of Lundy




The cliffs and views were spectacular but it was damp grey and dreary so we headed back to the campsite



The weather seemed to brighten on the way back so we detoured to the beach at Putsborough at the south end of Woolacombe beach


On a whim me and TBF went body boarding and surf kayaking for an hour and even though the waves were a bit small it was actually pretty good fun and finished off the day nicely


As an added treat the sun came out and gave us some nice late evening light while we got changed


We were pretty late back to the campsite but we’d eaten at lunchtime so a late sandwich saw us through. All in all a good day out

North Devon – Rockham Beach   12 comments


After a short couple of weeks back at work I needed another holiday. As it was TBFs birthday we took a long weekend in North Devon in the camper.


We stayed at the very fine Damage Barton camping site near Morthoe and Woolacombe. Great views across the north coast and Bristol Channel to south Wales and superb facilities will make this a regular spot for future trips. We hadn’t visited this area since the kids were small so I was looking forward to a revisit


The first morning was gloriously sunny and after a morning doing the shopping and replacing the pop up tent that TJS uses we went out for a walk after lunch


It clouded over while we were out which was a shame but the weather was still warm and dry. We wandered through the campsite at North Morte Farm where we used to stay. Its a superb spot as the camping area has great views and feels a bit like wild camping as the fields are tucked into the heathland. The downside is that there are not many flat spots and they don’t take bookings so its pot luck whether you find a suitable spot, more important when you have a trailer tent. As it turned out the site was mostly empty and we would have had a pick of places to set up but there you go. The site has direct access down to Rockham Beach


We spent many happy hours down here when the kids were small as it has a perfect combination of safe swimming, sand and rock pools to explore. At the end of the Bank Holiday week we were surprised to find it pretty much deserted


We had a nice pither about, poked about in the rock pools and sat on the rocks to chill out



Access is by a very steep set of 100 steps that have only recently been repaired after storm damage


Much as I’df have liked to explore further TJF had had enough of walking (she’s not a great fan) so we headed back to the site for a BBQ



Even though it was cloudy it was still warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the views while eating


The cloud cover gave us a pretty good sunset, one of the real benefits of camping on the west coast






A nice start to what turned out to be a pretty decent long weekend away


Churchstoke Hills   8 comments


Not sure if this collection of high ground has a name (doubtful as hardly anyone seems to have heard of them) so I’m calling them the Churchstoke Hills as that’s where we parked for the walk.


They are fairly prominent on the skyline from the Stiperstones and Long Mynd and look good on the map so worth a trip out to try and fashion some kind of circular walk


Heading out on some fairly vague paths, our first target was Todleth Hill. The path skirted across the slopes but we were on access land so we walked top to the top. A very fine top with expansive views across Shropshire and Welsh borders


The paths were thin and little overgrown in places but easy enough to follow to our next target of Roundton Hill.  It’s small, perfectly formed and brutally steep


For such a diminutive hill it packs a punch of crags and steep slopes and takes a bit of puff to reach its summit



Excellent views from the top made it worth the effort


A panorama shot looking at the rest of our route




Our next target was the highest point in the “range” of Corndon Hill. Only 500m high it’s lower than both the Stiperstones and Long Mynd but as its steep all round it has higher feel both looking from a distance and when you’re on it


We had a brief stop on the lower slopes as we could see a nasty looking shower heading in which duly hit us for our walk across the top.


Lots of paths on the open access land and some sensational views across the surrounding hills and over to the Cheshire plain. A bit wet but a price worth paying for the clear air and sunny spells you get between showers on days like these



It rained for longer than we’d either liked or thought, probably the best part of an hour so we didn’t linger on the summit


We quickly dropped down to the lower paths and noted that the hill of Lan Fawr just off the right of way was also on access land and looked rather good so we went to the top


Despite the very obvious storms still scudding across the borders we caught a lucky break and had a late lunch on the top in glorious bright sunshine



We found a spot looking out to the west and could pick out most of the main summits in Snowdonia (that weren’t obscured by rain storms)





There were dark clouds moving across the horizon and not wanting to push our luck decided to head down



The views were still magnificent and a stretch of green grassy path studded with gnarled tress was especially stunning



This section was just a pleasure, easy angled walking on soft grassy paths with expansive views and most of the route to ourselves



We caught another couple of brief showers and I managed to fall a5rse over t1t off a stile into a field but otherwise an uneventful return the car



A respectable 8 miles  and well over 2000 feet of ascent for such small hills


I’ve had designs on a walk in these hills for a few years now and never quite made the effort to actually make it happen. It rewarded the effort


Having made the route up as we went along it became a fine circuit that I’m sure will become a regular outing such was the quality

Sometimes its Just About Getting Out   10 comments


A short post and a few photos from a walk up Ysgyryd Fawr several weeks back after we’d returned from France.


It had everything I dislike about walking in August. The air was still, it was overcast, humid, and the bracken was smothering the hillsides. The flies were a nuisance.


We sweated our way to the top, feasting on flies as we went


We were glad of a breeze on the summit ridge to cool us down a bit and a blow the flies back to where they came from


We watched a guy flying a small model plane on the summit to keep us entertained


And some brighter interludes before we headed down. Not the absolute most enjoyable walk I’ve taken this year but better than sitting at home


Sometimes its just about getting out……

Posted September 18, 2018 by surfnslide in Brecon Beacons, Wales, Walking

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Road Trip – Tarn Gorge Swimming   15 comments


I saved the last post with memories of what for me were the highlights of the trip. We went out and saw some amazing places but the heart of the trip were the rivers and the fun we had in them, jumping, diving, swimming floating and fish spotting.


A compilation of photos and a video/photo slideshow to share that fun



DB Jr jumps from below the mushroom rock, our favourite spot



Floating down the river towards said spot



A late evening of fun and frolics


DB Sr showing his skills and form.





TBF enjoys some lazy river floating.


A few underwater pictures of the local fish on one of my snorkelling expeditions





And one final shot of the spot where we spent many happy hours


And that was the end of our trip. We drove home on a wet and windy day, stopping off at a very nice campsite in Normandy before a trouble free tunnel crossing this time and an utterly desperate drive back home (think almost 7 hours to do a journey that should have taken 4!) – never drive anywhere in the UK on a Friday. A truly memorable trip shared with great friends young and old. Here’s hoping we can do it all again in a couple of years time 🙂

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