Devon Delights pt 1 – A new arrival

Yeah, I know,  another Royal baby theme but if everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon then why not? Funnily enough, no sooner had I posted a message on Farcebook last night suggesting that HRH might want to hurry things up a bit – for our benefit as much as hers – when out it, sorry, he pops. Maybe she had her phone with her and took notice of me, although I don’t recall accepting a friend request from a duchess. Queens yes…..

Right, enough of that nonsense, let’s get on with the real nonsense – and the title should give you a none too subtle hint that we’ve moved north – to Warcombe Farm near Mortehoe in north Devon. We’ve had glorious sunshine, mist and  a little bit of rain too though it has remained warm. In fact this particular trip may go down in history as the first one where my trusty leather jeans have not seen daylight. Mind you, given the volume of grub and grog that’s successfully navigated it’s way through the  treacherous path that is my  my digestive system since we’ve been away it will be a miracle if they still fit…..

Right – update time – eventually. Here’s what’s been happening.

Packing away the awning on Saturday morning was surprisingly stress free – although with all the lights to take down, untangle and put away – de-rigging  a west end musical  would probably be quicker. We decamped to the other side of the ‘van for the rest of the day to get out of the wind. A late bbq’d breakfast was the only interruption to the cricket as England slowly turned the screw.

With nearly everything ready for an early departure we adjourned, for the last time to the First & Last in Sennen for some more research. The increasing regularity of our visits of late meant that there was nothing new to try, so Sharp’s Doom Bar was the ale of choice. some live music started around 9pm – a band called ‘The Hoodle’. We stayed for the first half, but conscious of an early start didn’t hang around. They were very good though.

Sunday, and time to depart – which meant of course all the usual caravanning carry on – loo emptied, legs up, motor mover on, etc etc. And rain! The heavens opened for the first time in nearly three weeks, and despite it stopping soon after, by the time we got to Penzance and topped up with diesel, Patsy was already filthy.

The journey itself passed without incident. We paused for a loo break and to swap  over driving duties but Trev was happy to carry on. We’d also heard from the site that we could arrive when we like – which was great news and very helpful. We pulled in to the car park soon after midday, were checked in by some very friendly staff and were shown to our pitch.

Warcombe farm is a big site – some 260 pitches accomodating a variety of tents, motorhomes and caravans and well landscaped There are large open spaces where a group can pitch together, uniform inline pitches, and secluded lots separated by trees and shrubs. Many have electrical hook ups and some have water and waste too. There is also a pretty little fishing lake in the middle. Ours was on the perimeter road with nothing but countryside behind us. Lovely.

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The awning went up really easily – although it’s erection was disturbed by frequent slaps to the limbs as yet another horsefly settled down for a feast. The dregs of two different sorts of insect repellent procured some years back marginally effective, eventually halting the little buggers before a blood transfusion was needed.

Time was marching on by the time we’d finished – and with the news from Lords that England had trounced Australia we showered and headed off in search of grub and grog.

Mortehoe was only a few minutes away and we drove through slowly on the look out for dining and drinking options – in fact you have to drive slowly – from what we’ve seen so far Devon is on a par with Cornwall when it comes to narrow winding roads. With options logged we carried on around to Woolacombe to see what was on offer there, but decided to head back. It was still very busy – and given the fact it was a warm Sunday night at the start of the school holidays, so it should be. It was very pretty though and on the list to do later on.

Both the ale and food, were a little disappointing to be honest. Clearly the warm weather was causing cellar coolers to struggle – in the two pubs we visited the ale was too warm, although still clear and tasty.The food was ok but greasy and overpriced for what it was sadly.

Monday and and a clear blue sky was visible through the skylight as I got up at silly o’clock to relieve my aching bladder. Later at a more sensible hour and with the kettle on it was a little overcast, but still nice and warm.

The little towns of Lynton and Lynmouth were the first ports of call, the drive to which took us through some stunning landscapes and the western edges of the Exmoor forest too.

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Lynmouth sits at the bottom of a gorge accessed by a very steep and narrow road and is joined to it’s neighbour above by a water powered cliff railway. There is a pretty harbour area with hotels perched on cliff edges and a very stony beach.

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The railway is a delight. Two cars joined by cables go up and down the 860 odd feet climb to Lynton. The car at the top fills a tank with water until it is heavier than the one below, which at the same time empties it’s tank. Gravity does the rest. Great fun and a must if you come here.

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Lynton is pretty too, although there is evidence of tough times. Hopefully the good weather will give our seaside resorts the boost they desperately need. Talking of weather the sun had returned, albeit rather hazily, slowly bringing in a sea mist whish was loitering just off the coast.

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We headed back along the coast pausing at Hagginton Point for photo’s of the rocky coastline and the village and beach of Hele below. Hele is home to paper mill now producing tea bag paper amongst other things but the first glazed writing paper was produced here in the 1840’s. For the interest of my old stationery crowd at CBS but probably on-one else; Wiggins Teape (or whatever they’re called now) own the paper mill  here.

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Next stop was Ilfracombe – another seaside resort so loved by the Victorians but has suffered in recent years. Consequences of the current economic climate were in evidence in the high street but there were plenty of people about. What should be doing ok – for the quality of their baguettes alone – is the cafe and take away called Rainbow Corner. Bacon and cheese for Trev and sausage and onion for me – they were both divine. A quick mention too to the very nice chap that handed over his parking ticket giving us a couple of hours free parking. Thank you – every little helps!

It was certainly busier down by the harbour area and far more promising. Boat trips were on offer and there is a ferry over to the Island of Lundy. The 66 feet high bronze statue of a pregnant lady called Verity sits in a prominent position looking out over the bay. A 20 year loan from artist Damien Hirst, it apparently didn’t meet with universal local approval. Half of the statue shows Verity in all her glory. Move to the other side and her skin is peeling away to reveal her skull, flesh and her unborn baby. Bizarre. After a disappointing start I warmed to Ilfracombe the longer we were there and glad we stuck with it.

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The sea mist was rolling in as we called in at the supermarket and the open fields took on a much eerier quality as we drove back to the site. A ‘veg’ dinner provided the evenings nourishment –  although still with bbq’d bangers – accompanied by a bottle or two of a lovely EPA procured from a certain German discount supermarket.

So, up to date again. Another cloudy start this morning but the promised storms have not materialised and the sun is making regular, increasingly successful attempts to break through. Today is the day that we are ‘assured’ (that word again) that contracts will be exchanged, although at the time of typing – just gone midday – there is no news. Still, they know the score. Right, going to get this sent and then we’re going to Woolacombe.

Look out for pt 2 coming soon(ish!)

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