18. South West Coast Path (North Devon)

188. Barnstaple to Braunton

Wednesday 15th January 2020

Another cold, dank and possibly raining day although it was supposed to be brighter and looked like it could be later on.

The previous evening I drove from the Royal Hotel in Bideford to the George Inn in Braunton where I was to stay for the last two nights and in the morning caught the 21 bus to Barnstaple. Navigated through the streets and crossed the River Yeo, a small tributary of the Taw, to turn left down Mill Road (GR556335). Passed Barnstaple Rugby Club and came out into a car park in a bit of an industrial area. Turned off left here to reach the familiar Tarka Trail and set off along it again (GR552333).

Tarka Trail out of Barnstaple (GR548334)

The path passed under the new road bridge and the rain stopped, the sun came out and suddenly the sky was blue. Walking along the estuary of the Taw now on the other side to where I was yesterday of course.

Passed a big industrial estate to the right as the estuary started to widen a little.

I mentioned yesterday that everyone seems to keep to the left when walking or cycling and I thought this was just a way of behaving but I see that there are signs saying that you should do this which amazingly everyone, including myself, are obeying. It was very quiet and still along here with just the occasional bird cry, a cyclist whizzing by and of course my hacking cough (still recovering from a cold just after Christmas).

There was a low flood wall all the way along here which provides useful resting places and just before a house the path becomes enclosed on either side by bushes and trees. The trail is now close to the main road as it approaches Lime Kiln Lane (GR523349).

The path goes underneath an arch bridge at Lime Kiln Lane and I’m not entirely clear what this was for because it leads directly into the water and I can’t believe there was a bridge here as it’s a long, long way across the estuary.

Approached Heanton Court (GR513349), the castle-like pub or hotel, where there is another of the yellow topped posts that appear all along the Tarka Trail. Each has a number and an item of information about the trail at that point. It had taken me all this time to realise that these are probably kilometre markers. If so then I only have another two kilometres of this trial trail to go.

Heanton Court (GR513349)
Boats at Chivenor (GR510349)

Reached Chivenor Cross (GR505348) where there is a bus stop where the bus stopped this morning outside the Royal Marine barracks. The Tarka Trail continued alongside the very extensive barracks and then Chivenor Airfield.

Heanton Punchardon (GR496350)

This section of the trail is busier than most with people walking dogs. A particularly overweight Labrador plodded along, tongue out panting for breath giving me either a disdainful or sympathic look on overtaking me.

I was approaching the end of the Tarka Trail now and on these sort of long nothing happening places you supposedly get lost in your own thoughts. Not me, my thoughts have been focused on finishing this trail.

Across the marshes to Braunton Burrows (GR490354)

The target today was Croyde but thinking about it too many things were against it. The first day falling down and struggling through mud took a lot out of my legs and I have not been the same since. My back and right hip are giving me pain and had also kept me awake last night. The cough is giving me a problem and added to my sleepless night so I came to the conclusion to walk no further and instead go back to the hotel at Braunton. I think the real reason is that the Tarka Trail is just so boring. (On reflection this might be a bit harsh as this was not the best time of the year to see it. I have been spoilt by the stunning coastline of Cornwall)

Towards the end here it was a little more interesting with wild life ponds on the outskirts of Braunton (GR489355).

Wildlife ponds at Velator (GR489354)

Actually the trail did not end at Velator (GR487358) as I had expected but crossed over the road and continued on to Station Close in Braunton.

Goodbye to the Tarka Trail (actually it rears its head again near Ilfracombe) (GR486363)

Walked along Gubbins Lane and then turned left up to the George Inn.

George Inn, Braunton (GR488365)

I had a good fish and chip dinner in the excellent Squires Restaurant next to the George Inn and then drove home the following morning.

Days from Chepstow   188

Miles today   5.9

Miles from Chepstow   2241.0

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