18. South West Coast Path (North Devon)

191. Morthoe to Ilfracombe

Tuesday 22nd September 2020

Took the bus out to Morthoe – much more civilised than it was last evening. Retraced my steps from the post office (GR458452) to the footpath sign (GR460455) for Rockham Beach and then back down the path I came up last night. A whole lot cooler today and cloudy – better for walking really.

The path leads down to the sea high above Rockham Beach and reached the South West Coast Path at the point (GR458459) where my resolve gave out last night and turned right heading for Bull Point.


Rockham Beach with steps down to beach (GR459160)

The path climbed steeply away from Rockham Beach and then a very steep descent down steps into a valley and then up again, not so bad this time, to Bull Point (GR462467).


Bull Point lighthouse (GR463467)

Having gone down the very steep steps to Bull Point met a guy, and walked with him for a short while, who had just been in Reeth the previous weekend and done the Herriot Way. Had his tea in the Copper Kettle next to our cottage. At first I thought he might have actually stayed in our cottage as a recent renter had also done the Herriot Way and I thought they might be the same person.


Rocks at Bull Point (GR463467)

Climbed up the slope behind the lighthouse and reached the highest point where it is possible to see quite a long way ahead with several points (Ulfred, Shag, Whitestone Field, Flat, Brandy Cove, etc.) and of course the dips between them which are the remaining task for the day.


The rather murky view forwards from Bull Point (GR464467)

A pair of Choughs were flying around here making their strange bird cry. Difficult to believe that they were just about extinct by 2001 as I have seen them frequently around the South West Coast Path. Attempts to photograph them were not too successful.


Pair of choughs at Bull Point (GR464467)

A steep descent down steps led to a wooden footbridge over a little stream running into a bay at Damagehue Rock (GR468467).


Damagehue Rock (GR469467)

Naturally a steep climb up the other side followed. The path was relatively flat for a couple of hundred yards along the top of the cliffs and then dived down again and at this point to the houses at Lee could be seen. The path didn’t look too difficult so hopefully it will be easy and I will have a nice drink in the pub.

It was not quite to be of course as the path dropped steeply down to a little wooden footbridge and then up the other side again near Pensport Rock (GR474467). At first the path was easy and then a set of steps appeared that looked terrifying.


Steps at Damagehue (they never look steep in photos) (GR476467)

The steps were perhaps not as bad as expected and the path climbed on a bit further after the top of the steps and then dropped down to a road (GR477465). Turn left steeply down the road to Lee Bay.


Approaching Lee Bay (GR478465)

The main part of the village is about 800 yards away from the sea along a good footpath leading to the Grampas Inn (GR484463).


The Grampas Inn, Lee (GR484464)

Spent about an hour in the Grampas Inn having some lunch – three pints of Otter beer and ham egg and chips. Very nice with rather fastidious attention to Covid19 regulations out in the garden with staff keeping well clear of customers.

Leaving the pub it was necessary to climb a very steep lane to re-join the official path (GR484466) The route took me past a community bench – rather good-looking if slightly grotesque but uncomfortable.


Community Bench, Lee (GR484464)

After a continuous climb for about ¾ mile the road ended just after the Windjammer house (GR490467) to go through a wooden gate and become a track onto National Trust Flat Point. The track continued to rise for a while longer after the end of the road but at the summit Ilfracombe can be seen in front.


Ilfracombe (taken in better weather a day or two earlier) (GR526476)

The hard work involved in walking from Morte Point to Lee surprised me as I thought I had left all these downs and ups in Cornwall. However it was also the best bit of coastline for quite some time.


Ilfracombe (taken in better weather a day or two earlier) (GR526476)

There were quite a few alternative routes over the clifftops into Ilfracombe and I didn’t really take the right one so did not follow the South West Coast Path into the town.


Once in the town the footprints set in the pavement can be followed (backwards) (GR523476)

Ended up at National Trust Torrs Woods and then through the roads of Ilfracombe back to the Sandpiper Inn (GR523478).


Sandpiper Inn, Ilfracombe (GR523478)

This unfortunately meant that I never got to see Damien Hirst’s Verity close up.


Verity (far right) across Ilfracombe harbour (GR526476)

However, I can save the Verity experience for next time as the following morning it was raining and the coronavirus situation seemed to be worsening so I decided to cut my trip short. I think that part of the decision was based on the fact that I am approaching the end of the South West Coast path and I will now have to make two further trips rather than the one I had envisaged – I am reluctant to stop walking the SWCP.

Days from Chepstow   191

Miles today   7.4

Miles from Chepstow   2267.5

3 thoughts on “191. Morthoe to Ilfracombe

  1. I agree with Ruth Verity is very Marmite and I’m afraid I’m in the hate camp.

    Lee Bay was a pretty spot blighted by a derelict old hotel. Is it still there or has it been demolished now?


  2. I don’t recall seeing the old hotel – perhaps I was just head down heading for the pub. I see from the internet that a planning proposal to demolish it and build houses and a cafe was rejected in 2019.
    I see that you found an ‘England Coast Path’ sign back in 2014 but I’ve yet to see one – important as I am hoping to use it after the end of the South West Coast Path.


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