18. South West Coast Path (North Devon)

183. Hartland Quay to Clovelly

Tuesday 29th October 2019

Having spent the night at the Bush Inn, Morwenstow, drove to Hartland Quay passing through a flood on the road at Stoke. The Bush was fine with friendly staff and heavily used by locals and visitors but it was the most expensive place stayed in on this trip and probably all my other trips.

Rather cloudy, cold and a bit windy today.

Parked in the Hartland Quay Hotel car park (GR223247) and climbed up the steep narrow road behind the hotel. At the top car park took a path off to the left signposted Hartland Point 3 miles, and continued up some steps. At the top of the climb reached the road again just in front of the Rocket House (GR226248). This is now a holiday cottage but was originally built to house the wagon and equipment of the Hartland Quay Life Saving Apparatus Company. Turned left at the Rocket House and walked out across the grassy top of Warren Cliff towards a ruined tower (GR227251) with the very impressive Stoke church visible across the fields.

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From Warren Cliff across Broad and Blegberry Beaches to Gull Rock (GR225254)

At Dyer’s Lookout descended steps towards Blackpool Mill using a stone bridge (GR227255) to cross Abbey River into Blackpool Mill. Crossed the flat field to reach the steep climb ahead, and after 150 steps made it to the gate at the top (GR226258). Turned right here and dropped down some steps to a stile and a rocky path looking at the next climb up Blegberry Cliff. After the top of the climb came up to a gate with a three-way fingerpost (GR226262). Took the path off to the right ‘Public Footpath’ rather than the coastal path.

The footpath contoured round the edge of some fields whereas the coastal path itself dropped steeply down closer to the sea. The path eventually went down steps to a wooden footbridge (GR230267) to some rather incongruous chalet buildings. Crossed the river and started the climb up Upright Cliff.

These climbs were not so severe in themselves it just that there had been four or five already this morning in the first 2 miles of walking. They just kept coming.

On Blagdon Cliff the coastguard station at Hartland Point and the globe of the radar station beyond it came into view and the path descended through gorse bushes. Just before the coastguard (GR232276) reached the memorial to the Glenart Castle – a hospital ship that was torpedoed in 1918.

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Monument to Glenart Castle on Blagdon Cliff (GR320274)

From the coastguard station at Hartland Point the Bristol Channel and Wales can be seen. Indeed from this point on it is the Bristol Channel that is always on the left hand side rather than the Atlantic Ocean and this seems to cause a noticeable change in topography. Followed a concrete path down to the car park which was full of vans involved in work on the lighthouse. (I think I somehow managed to miss the lighthouse as it is somewhat hidden at the bottom of the cliffs).

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Radar station at Hartland Point (Wales in background)  (GR233276)

The café in the car park (GR234275) was closed for the winter but the barbeque tables were still outside so stopped for a rest and some food. Because of the slow progress made up and down the cliffs and the short days since the clocks went back decided to plan a different route away from the official path for the rest of the day. Although I have followed a continuous route I have by-passed several sections of the path in Cornwall for these kind of reasons and now a plan was beginning to form in my mind to come back and complete these after I have reached MInehead. This is particularly attractive as I am already starting to miss Cornwall.

So I decided to take to the roads for a while. The narrow lane went on top of West Titchberry Cliff, past West and East Titchberry farms and just after East Titchberry Farm turned left on a pth through the National Trust property to reach the coastal path again at East Titchbury Cliff (GR245272). This became a pleasant green track climbing steadily up to a steel gate above Gawlish Cliff and then across a field.

The path eventually went through some flooded woods above Fatacott Cliff where I got very, very wet with the water coming over the top of my boots at one place. Continued on through East Fattacott Farm to the National Trust car park at Exmansworthy (GR270267).

There then followed several miles walking the lanes through Fatacott Cross, Beckland Cross, Highdown Cottages and Hescott Farm to reach the B3248 at Lighthouse Cross (GR291243). It seems that even the most insignificant crossroads around here are a named ‘Cross’. This far it was unexciting but easy walking. However there then followed a mile of unpleasant road walking in the gathering gloom. It was a relatively busy and narrow road with no pavement and trucks and tractors speeding past. Eventually (GR308235) took a small road off past West Dyke Farm towards Clovelly and got some reward by coming across a boulder with a plaque on it commemorating a Wellington that crashed shortly after taking off from RAF Chivenor in August 1943 during the war.

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Wellington bomber memorial Upper Clovelly (GR310240)

At Higher Clovelly (GR311240) turned left on the B3237 and followed it down past Clovelly Court Gardens to the Clovelly Visitor Centre (GR315249). This was a strange place where you have to pay to get into the village but more of this in the next post.

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Clovelly Visitor Centre (GR315249)

Called a taxi from Bideford to take me back to the Hartland Quay Hotel (through the still flooded Stoke).

Days from Chepstow   183

Miles today   11.0

Miles from Chepstow   2201.6

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