18. South West Coast Path (North Devon)

190. Putsborough to Morthoe

Monday 21st September 2020

Stayed overnight at the Sandpiper Inn which was OK but not great. Very friendly publicans, good room and breakfast but the pub itself was rather drab. In the morning messing about parking up the car and so on I forgot to put my boots on. Got into the taxi and didn’t realise for about ten minutes and had to go back. The taxi driver was none too pleased but cheered up when I over-tipped him.

At Putsborough (GR448406) set off on the high level path overlooking Woolacombe Sand and Morte Bay. A beautiful day, about 20 degrees and going to get hotter.


From Putsborough across Morte Bay to Woolacombe (GR450408)

The path from Putsborough pleasant at the start going between hedges quite high above the beach. Eventually at Black Rock (GR454415) I should have turned off on the official footpath into Woolacombe Warren – an area of sand dunes. Somehow I missed this and instead found myself on a big wide open track which eventually became the huge Sandy Burrows linear car park into Woolacombe. The track became a tarmacked road and as it began to bear a way to the right (GR458432) took a path through the dunes into Woolacombe itself (GR458438). The town was very busy despite it being the end of the season.

Turned left on the road out of Woolacombe on a steady climb above Barricane and Grunta Beaches. It had now become very hot and I should imagine was about 24 or 25 degrees. Again missed the official path as it dropped down towards Grunta Pool and so continued on up the steep road to the end of the buildings, through a gate (GR455449) and onto the path towards Morte Point.


Morte Point (GR445453)

The footpath out to Morte Point along the tops of low cliffs was a grassy path starting to get steeper when actually approach the Point (GR442455).


Path out to Morte Point (GR450452)

It was an extremely popular path although most people on reaching Morte Point stayed for a while and then retraced their steps back to Woolacombe. Probably wise as the path soon became serious hard work after Morte Point.


Rocks at Morte Point (GR448453)

Stopped for lunch at Morte Point which is a really beautiful location on what is really the Bristol Channel rather than the Atlantic Ocean. Lundy could be made out to the west, but not Hartland Point that has disappeared and will not be seen any more. I’ve been looking at Hartland Point from one direction or another for a long while. Straight ahead can make out Wales and then further to the east can see the lighthouse at Bull Point which is about one-third of the way between here and Ilfracombe.


Baggy Point from Morte Point (GR446454)

The walk from Morte Point is really attractive on rocky paths quite high up. A bit up and down with Bull Point in view in the middle distance. The South West Coast Path also goes by the name of the Tarka Trail for this section but it could not be more different than the flat straight stretches around Barnstaple. There are four significant climbs as it overlooks Rockham Bay, Whiting Cove and Oreweed Cove on its way to Rockham Beach (GR458459).


Bull Point across Rockham Bay (GR450457)

I have been reading The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. Raynor and her husband Moth, both 50 at the time, get evicted from their house which was also their business and the day after getting the court order they are informed that Moth has a terminal neurological disease. They decided to walk the South West Coast Path and with capital of only £250 and income of £48 a week benefits bought decidedly inferior equipment for wild camping. One point made is that many people they meet on the way think wild camping is a very romantic and adventurous undertaking whereas it is actually really hard going. I have never had these delusions as I like a good hot shower, food and drink and a warm bed at the end of the day.  However I do admire one aspect of wild camping which is that you are free to stop whenever you have had enough for the day.

There are surprisingly few places along this coastline where it is possible to get off the path and reach a road with a phone signal to call a taxi but above Rockham Beach an enticing footpath sign gave an opportunity of leaving the path and walking to Mortehoe. The minute you begin to contemplate the possibility you are lost so I took the path up to the road (GR460455) and turned right into Mortehoe and the Chichester Arms (GR457451). The other pub, The Ship Aground, is shut down at the moment. Had a couple of pints of Proper Job in here and learnt that there was a bus to Ilfracombe. There was standing room only on the bus and this probably represents the most dangerous position I’ve put myself in regarding social distancing and Covid19.

Stayed again at the Sandpiper Inn. Given that pubs and restaurants have had a tough time being closed for several months during lockdown it was very difficult to get food with many places closed and many of those that were open not doing food.

Days from Chepstow   190

Miles today   6.2

Miles from Chepstow   2260.1

2 thoughts on “190. Putsborough to Morthoe

  1. Ruth,
    Thanks for your comments. The bus episode with Covid19 reminds me of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease during the BSE epidemic. Everyone stopped eating beef until the supermarkets halved the price and then people fought over it. Similarly with the bus I just wanted to get back to the B&B.
    I’m still enjoying reading all your posts and hopefully you’ll be back in action this year soon,



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