A short summary of 3 weeks on the south coast. It gets more interesting once we leave this area (but we have been before, so see previous posts for more detail)
We already knew that we were heading for Cabopino when we got south, the only question was for how long. It started out as 7-10 days but ended up as 3 weeks – I’m not quite sure how this happened, but it did mean that we were able to have a night out with Steve and Denise’s friends for Steve’s birthday before we left. Apart from that 7-10 days would have been more than enough.
We really didn’t get out and about much as we don’t have the car with us and it’s not cycle friendly unfortunately.
So, where did we go?
Well we went, on the bus of course, to Marbella old town, La Cala market (Calv and I walked the 5 miles back) and Fuengirola. Other than that we just had walks and trips to the beach and, of course Happy Hour down at Jorge’s on a Friday 🙂
Buses are really cheap over here. It cost us just over 6 Euros per couple to get to Marbella and back, less than 3 euros to get to La Cala de Mijas and just over 3 euros to get to Fuengirola. Very good value 🙂
Marbella old town is definitely worth a visit with a number of lovely squares. La Cala de Mijas has numerous bars and eateries together with a lovely beach. Fuengirola is surprisingly nice as well with a long promenade along the beach.
We also got back to ‘running’ (both of us) and I did a fair bit of swimming.
I’m sorry it’s a bit boring, but it does get better once we left Cabopino and started seeing new sites. I will try to update much quicker now!!
Parked up at Area de Autocarvannas in La Guardia de Jaen
Last time we took the ferry to Spain in January 2017 we went into Bilbao and had to then spend 5 nights at our 1st site in Zaurutz whilst waiting to get my tablet back (I’d left it in our cabin…) This wasn’t a major issue though as we were taking our time to reach the coast, via Pamplona.
This time however (January 2022) we docked in Santander (after a nightmare journey – read about it here), and the intention was to travel in the most direct manner south. Together with our travelling companions, Steve and Denise, we decided on the next night’s stop each evening. Actually, let’s be honest here, Steve and I found each evening’s park up between us!
We decided on 3 overnight stops before reaching the coast – it can, of course, be achieved quicker, but we wanted to enjoy the journey and see some new sites on our way.
So the 1st leg was Santander to Aranda de Duero just south of Burgos, roughly 150 miles in total. We stopped in an approved area with services, by the river and had a wander into the lovely little old town across the river. I also met a lady who had the misfortune to have had the same horrendous crossing as I experienced – only this poor lady hadn’t benefitted from the comfort of a cabin 😦
The following day we made it a further 125 miles south to the beautiful town of Aranjuez just south of Madrid. We had been somewhat concerned about negotiating our way around or through Madrid, but it was Sunday and we decided to head straight through (on the motorway of course!) You just need to keep your wits about you and make sure you follow the signs for Cordoba/Granada. I think I was more stressed than Calv trying to ensure I got the navigation right!
This time our stop off was by the side of a river, and just before a campsite (Camping Internationale). We parked up and headed straight across the bridge to the Palace Gardens to follow the river into town. Sadly the Royal Palace was closed, but plenty of bars were open, and we took full advantage. This is a lovely place and we would happily return for another visit.
We had a slightly longer journey the next day (about 175 miles) heading to an Area de Autocaravannas that I’d found in La Guardia de Jaen– it looked wonderful but some of the reviews suggested that we might struggle to reach it in our van. We decided to give it a go anyway as we were coming from the north. Absolutely no issues were experienced and this spot is an absolute gem 🙂 We stayed 2 nights in the end. The only problem was that it took us 3 attempts to find the little supermarket open, and the only bar open at all while we were there was a very local one – Calv poked his head through the door and said it looked like someone’s front room filled with men (exclusively) smoking and drinking.
We saw a red squirrel in the trees in the valley by the area, and Calv and I walked up to viewing point high above us – a very steep climb; one of those that was as bad coming down as going up! We also walked around the town and up to the castle (sadly closed), around the back of the castle to the church (similarly closed) where there were additions tacked on where families were living, down to the garage to get drinking water – there was another bar here that was actually open – entailing another steep climb back up to the van.
The guy in the van beside us also stayed a few days and he used to go off cycling for miles while his wife sat in the sun relaxing 🙂
Click on the link above for advice on how to arrive at this area (i.e. we would recommend that you don’t try and come through the town itself, you need to approach from the north, which might entail going past and then coming back on yourselves). This is probably the best free stopover we have ever stopped on (although Algodanales in the hills north of Ronda comes a very close second 🙂 )
After La Guardia de Jaen we headed for the coast and 1 last free night (in Cala de Mijas) before arriving at Camping Cabopino for a few weeks. We had to go via Granada having found a Caravan Dealership where we could buy ACSI cards (we had ordered ours before christmas but they hadn’t arrived before we left home).
This final stint we did in 1 hit (apart from the stop to buy ACSI). We know the free area in La Cala (de Mijas) well from previous stays, but on arrival we were shocked at how many motorhomes were there! It’s normally very well policed, but they were spilling over outside the accepted area – there must have been 3 times as many vans as would normally be allowed 😦 We decided to stay for 1 night however (it’s very handy for a night out)). We were now able to head out to do a proper shop – we tried the Aldi (not too keen tbh), and then headed back out to Lidl in the morning for the bits we couldn’t get in Aldi!
A meal in El Gusto (because Biddy Mulligan’s shut the kitchen at 5pm – their loss, we discovered El Gusto next door and will return!) was most welcome and very, very good.
We did see last week that the car park has now been cleared of the excess motorhomes and there is just the corner now available (as per usual – there’s still about 30-40 vans in there though)
We’re now settled at Cabopino for a few weeks and in my next post I’ll tell you about trips to Marbella Old Town and La Cala de Mijas (on the bus!)
We have now spent our first night happily in Spain. I have now recovered from the nightmare crossing!!
This is the 3rd time we’ve crossed this way – twice to Spain and once home. We never intended to do it again after the last time, but of course we’re not allowed to traverse through France at the moment….
Our first crossing to Bilbao back in January 2017 was wonderful. We were confused as to what everyone was going on about when they said how awful it was. I didn’t have to retreat to the cabin once, except to sleep of course.
Our second crossing was 10 weeks later out of Santander. This time I managed a few hours out on deck before having to admit defeat as we navigated the bay of biscay. I then couldn’t get up for the rest of the crossing! Although I was able to eat a little and drink.
This time. This time…!! Wow. Well it was relentless almost from the start. Boarding just before 10.15pm I did actually see the public areas as we had a quick drink before going to bed just before midnight – I was already needing to lay down. And that was it tbh. I barely moved for the next 32 hours. Not because I was being lazy you understand, I simply couldn’t get upright, not even to sit! During those hours I managed to eat a quaker breakfast bar (it took me all day), drink half a can of coke, a cup of green tea and half a bottle of water. Heading to the loo was a bit of an issue as I had to be upright, obviously (sadly those bodily functions don’t shut down in times of stress)
Yesterday when we parked up for the night at Arando de Duero, I met a lady who suffered the same as me but was far worse off, only having a seat, not a cabin.
Calv said the boat was very quiet in the public areas and that the food was ‘okay’. I think this crossing was particularly awful due to the weather – when I snatched the odd 30 seconds looking out of our window – all I could see was high seas with peaks and troughs constantly roiling. The boat was beaten on all sides all the way – it was truly horrible. 🤢
There was a highlight. I managed 30 seconds of watching a large school of dolphins jumping in and out of those waves (before I had to lay down again) – that was a real privilege 😊
Anyway the conclusion is that I never want to do that crossing again, ever. So we’re really hoping that France will let UK nationals drive through by the end of March. Please, keep your fingers crossed for me! Thank you 😁
What’s a stannary town? Read on to find out! Tavistock is absolutely charming and has the added benefit of being on the route of the N27 cycling route
We have moved on from Cornwall; not far though, just as far as Tavistock on the western edge of Dartmoor.
There’s an awful lot to say about Tavistock. First of all, it’s absolutely charming with many of the Abbey ruins dotted around the town. The 10th century Benedictine Abbey must have been huge as the ruins are so well spaced out – some in the grounds of the church, and then the Still Tower (where medicines were made) still standing alongside the river, as well as the gates. The museum is housed in one of these gates, but was unfortunately closed during our visit.
The town was granted it’s market charter in 1105 and a market has been held there continuously since then. Nowadays this is mostly held in the purpose build (1860) Pannier Market with many regular stalls. We were drawn in by 2 of these stalls and bought a few gifts (a couple of which were for us!) Around the outside of the market building there are many cafes serving local produce (including, of course, pasties and cream teas).
Speaking of cream teas, Tavistock is apparently the home of the Devon cream tea (cream with jam on top – of course!) The story goes that a group of workers making repairs after a Viking attack in 997AD were rewarded with bread, clotted cream and strawberry preserves – the rest, as they say, is history 🙂
Tavistock’s most famous son is Sir Francis Drake, and there are many nods to this around the town – from street names, shop names and statues to the cycle path winding through the town.
The N27 cycle path goes through Tavistock on it’s way from Ilfracombe to Plymouth. The section from Tavistock to Plymouth is known as ‘Drake’s Trail’. We used it to cycle from our campsite in Peter Tavy (Harford Bridge) and were really impressed (this was 1 of 2, mainly off road, cycle routes into town – and the easiest of the 2 we used). There is ample cycle parking near the town hall (opposite the Abbey Church).
On arriving in town Calv continued cycling along the N27 with me desperately trying to rein him in – ‘You’re on your way to Plymouth’ finally worked! The park alongside the river (which contains tennis courts, a BMX track and, of course, a bowling green) is rather lovely and brings you back, if you walk along by the river, to the wharf and the start of the canal, some of which is underground.
We ate lunch in the EastGate Bistro, again alongside the river, enjoying local produce, including beer and wine 🙂 Very nice too!
We returned the next day to make our purchases in the Pannier Market (we wouldn’t have been able to carry them home on our bikes). We parked up on the top road near the road up to the hospital (and the town steps) where it was free. On the way back we took the long route – completely unintentionally, especially considering we didn’t just have our purchases to carry, but those of fellow campers who were on their bikes! This resulting in a steep climb up the town steps and a steep descent down them back to the car – Calv wasn’t impressed with me…
By the way, I promised an explanation of what Stannary Town meant. Stannary means this was where mined metal (tin and later copper) was weighed, stamped and assessed for duty. Click here for more detailed information.
All in all I would definitely recommend a visit, or 2, to Tavistock. We will very likely return 🙂
Cornwall – the most beautiful place in the world – especially North Cornwall 🙂
A new campsite found (to which we will return), and meeting with old friends.
This was a very special part of our trip 🙂
It’s been a few years since our last trip to Cornwall, but, considering it’s my favourite place in the world, it won’t be our last!
This trip in particular was a bit special. Not only was it wonderful to be out and about in the van again, but we were meeting up with friends who we hadn’t seen for nearly a year. AND we got to watch England beat Germany in the Euros together. What more could you want??
We discovered a site (Old MacDonalds Farm) that not only gave a wonderful first impression, but managed to build on that as our stay progressed – if we hadn’t had other bookings (due to worrying about being able to get in anywhere if we didn’t!) we would have stayed longer without a doubt.
We had 5 nights here and crammed a far bit in – here’s a summary:-
Day 1 – Arrived (via a typical Cornish lane – meeting a tractor coming the other way!) We drove down (we were tired) to the Bay (it is walkable, but probably about 3/4 mile and quite a trek back up the hill!) There is a bus though 🙂
The beach is beautiful. The tide was out and we just walked out to the surf’s edge, exploring all the little caves and coves along the way.
We also noticed that all the beaches in this area have ‘litter picking’ stations, which is a wonderful idea. If we had been staying longer Calv would most definitely have got involved 🙂
Day 2 – It rained all night and didn’t stop all day, so we pulled on our wet gear and walking boots and headed out to get some fuel for the little car at St Merryn. Calv said the shop was amazing! So any camping needs should be filled here 🙂 We then took the road opposite the garage (and past the chippie) down towards Harlyn Bay and Trevone Head.
Initially we kept going straight on taking us past the golf course and driving range, before turning round and taking a left down towards the 2 holiday parks. There are 2 national trust car parks down here to take in the views or visit the bays. At the end of the road is the Trevone lighthouse – but the road goes no further!
We came back to the 1st car park and walked, in the rain, down to the delightfully named Booby’s Bay, which links up to Constantine Bay. I scrambled down to the beach via some rocks only to walk around the corner and find some wooden steps! Beautiful golden sands and patrolled by lifeguards, this was a lovely find.
Then we got a call from our friends to say they were waiting for us at our van! So we headed back and had a lovely afternoon catching up before they carried on to their holiday home in Padstow (normally rented out – #seaviewpadstow).
Day 3 – We headed slightly south to Bedruthen Steps, from where we walked to Mawgan Porth and back, a total of 5 miles. We didn’t know we were going to walk quite so far, and on leaving Mawgan Porth we decided to try to avoid the diversion on the cliff path (they’re putting in steps) by walking up the hill on the road (next to the Pitch and Putt). We thought this had worked, but the path ended up taking us back down to the beach anyway!! Massive fail…
An evening at #seaviewpadstow (our friend’s holiday cottage in Padstow) finished off the day. A taxi back to the campsite cost just £15 (although the taxi driver was pretty miserable!!)
Day 4 – Steve and Denise bought our little car back and then we took them back to Padstow, via Padstow Farm Shop (very disappointing) and Tesco’s. They later joined us at the campsite to watch THE match of the Euros so far (England v Germany in case you’re wondering) in the bar. The evening rounded off with a buffet meal outside the van and a few games of boules.
Day 5 – Our last day on site. We had a lovely sunny day so lathered on the suncream and took the kayak down to the bay. Great fun, especially surfing the waves back into the beach and even though Calv then tipped me out into the shallows – bless him….
Our last hurrah was to go back to Padstow for a wander before collecting Marie and Steve to come to pick up their car from the night before. They had all been on a Boat Safari during the day – seeing lots of dolphins 🙂
This part of the country is simply amazing – beautiful beaches, country lanes and stunning landscapes. A new view around every corner (and a tractor of course!)
A short stop at the delightful CL Marton House Campsite. Unfortunately not too much to say about the area. It was pleasant enough, and maybe the delights of Shrewsbury would have been more obvious had it been a normal year.
On leaving Symonds Yat we headed a short way north towards Shrewsbury. Chosen as we have never really visited this area, not really coast or country it seems to be a little neglected by us campers…
We had already had to change our plans slightly; with the lockdown being reimposed further north we decided against visited Ingleton (it didn’t help that the weather forecast would also have meant pretty much being stuck in the van rather than out walking and enjoying the scenery). We’ll have to save that delight for another time.
We were able to stay an extra night at Greenacres and Felicity at Marton House was very, very helpful. The friends that we had been due to meet up with in Yorkshire were able to book in as well, so all was good.
We arrived the day before Steve and Denise, finding the wonderful (if expensive) farm shop a couple of miles down the road (Moor Farm Shop – located next to a polo club if my memory serves me well). It was empty on our first visit, and we gave into several edible temptations! On our 2nd visit, with Steve and Denise, it was very busy, which, as you all know by now, was exacerbated by all the Covid measures in place.
On our first day, and before Steve and Denise arrived, we decided to take a trip to Oswestry. We actually liked the town located just 5 miles from the Welsh border. It’s impossible to ignore that it’s rather run-down, but there was a nice atmosphere there and some interesting buildings. We also liked the individual decoration hanging outside the town centre buildings, including the many pubs (Oswestry is know for the number of pubs it has!)
We found the remains of the castle (just a mound now really) and also the park on the edge of town featuring lovely flower displays and a statue of Wilfrid Owen, who was born in the town, as well as mini-golf, bowling, a bandstand and many other leisure activities.
Once back at the campsite and with Steve and Denise also settled we set about trying to book a table in 1 of the local pubs. The trouble was this was just as the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme had started and there were literally no tables to be had 😦 So we headed to Baschurch Chippie which Calv and I had driven past on our travels, after having visited one of the local pubs of course (The Red Lion in Myddle) and managing to book an early table for the following day (a day not included in the scheme!) It was well worth it though – the fish and chips were good and so was the meal the following day in the pub 🙂
The following day had been reserved for a day trip to Shrewsbury. I’d heard great things about Shrewsbury so was really looking forward to this. Unfortunately I was left a little underwhelmed, although I genuinely believe this was in part due to covid restrictions, which left me feeling as though the town had little soul, there was very little open and I felt that there could have been more information available to help bring the history alive. eg. Walking back to the car parked near the Abbey, we discovered Wyle Cop. This hill leading back down to the river is full of history and, now, independant shops. But the only reason I know anything about the history is because one of the, closed, shops had put up a display in their window detailing it.
We seemed to do alot of walking for little reward, but maybe we just took the wrong paths… We did find the castle (closed) and from there the magnificent railway station. We then took a rather long route back to the car, by mistake! We failed to find The Quarry which was probably another mistake. All in all I do think we should visit in happier times to give Shrewsbury a 2nd chance…
On our final day we drove out to Ellesmere, which was lovely, and busy. Definitely worth a visit and helped by the warm weather breaking through 🙂
Whilst I say we would give Shrewsbury another chance, we would only do so if we were passing on our way somewhere else, maybe on our way to Snowdonia..?
Our next stop on this mini roadtrip was to be the highlight (yes, even after Lymouth & Lynton and then Symonds Yat!!) when we headed up to Derbyshire to stay near Buxton.
I’m always surprised how many people HAVEN’T heard of Symonds Yat! Yes, I have childhood memories of trips here, but it is such a beautiful spot it should be on everybody’s UK bucket list (IMHO) 🙂
After our time in Lynmouth we headed north again for the stunning Wye Valley. We stayed at Greenacres nr. Coleford, which gave us the perfect excuse to walk 12 miles to take in Symonds Yat 🙂
We arrived mid-afternoon to find that our booking hadn’t been updated from the previous Saturday – oh no! Mild panic ensued, but we waited patiently until we got the good news that there was a pitch for us – phew 🙂
Once pitched up we headed off toward Monmouth to get in a few supplies for a bbq as my sister and her husband were joining us for a couple of nights. We were very confused on entering Lidls. I kept nudging Calv.. ‘They’re not very mask compliant here are they?!’ Then we realised that we were in Wales where (at that point in COVID history) they weren’t required to wear masks… We took ours off, and then found it didn’t feel right and put them back on again! (Who would have thought it?!!)
Back in England my sister arrived, we enjoyed our bbq and evening and in the morning we checked the route we needed to take for Symonds Yat. The footpath starts in the campsite and, although I’m pretty sure we took a few wrong turns, it was a lovely walk and we eventually made it to the river and the sanctuary of the ancient Saracen’s Head Inn, situated in front of the old hand-pulled chain ferry across the river (sadly not open at all during our visits). Here we navigated all the new rules and found a seat on the terrace for a drink and a spot of lunch.
Debs and I set off up the hill to the viewpoint before the boys. Luckily I had forgotten what a hard trek this is uphill!! But it is sooo worth it as the views are truly spectacular 🙂
It was a very tired group of 4 that arrived back at the van late on, so we decided to eat out. We investigated many local pubs, finding most were either booked up or we didn’t fancy what was on offer. In the end we chose to head into the nearest town, Coleford, and see what we could find.
We found the town of an evening to be not particularly, shall we say, inviting… Lots of people milling around, drinks in hand, outside the pubs.. Anyway we found a little Indian Restaurant that had a few tables, Cinnamons, and decided to give it a go. Very pleasant it was too 🙂
I must say that Calv and I had visited Coleford before and did note one place of interest, which was just off the main car park, being the GWR Railway Museum. (Every town has something to offer 🙂 )
Having extended our stay at Greenacres by a couple of nights (we had to move all our bookings around suddenly when Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas had new restrictions put in place – meaning we decided to cancel our stay up in Ingleton), we didn’t need to rush off in the morning. This meant that Debbie and Paul were able to come back down to Symonds Yat with us (this time in the car) as we had missed Biblins Bridge the day before. This is a rope bridge across the river.
It’s a couple of miles back upriver from the car park, so was a decent walk. There is a tearoom on the other riverbank, which we took advantage of, as well as a campsite for tents and small camper vans (which looked absolutely idyllic – Biblins Youth Campsite). Obviously there was another visit to The Saracen’s Head involved as well…
I need to just mention that the roads in this area are narrow and steep in places with some very tight bends – careful driving is required!!
Debbie and Paul headed off home on Sunday afternoon, and I’m pretty sure we just relaxed in the sun.
Monday was set aside for a spot of kayaking on the river, having discovered that we could launch from the carpark for just £2 (on top of the £4 per day parking fee).
Another beautiful day dawned, and we made our way down river, ‘beached’ for a short time (when Calv managed to drop his phone in the water – but don’t worry; he eventually found out that it’s waterproof (after a couple of days panicking), and he’s stopped telling everybody he meets now….!)
Once we’d landed and put the kayak away we headed back (yep, you’ve guessed it) to The Saracen’s Head – it would have been rude not to!
All in all another wonderful visit to the area, and we are certain that we will return again, and would highly recommend both the area and the campsite to others 🙂
Perhaps a little more challenging than you would have thought from the ‘Best of British Walks’ on the telly… But what a wonderful walk. You do need a fair degree of fitness to tackle the 2nd part, but you could turn back after visiting the tearooms to avoid the steep bit!
A couple of days following our extended walk down into Lynmouth we felt ready to tackle the walk that we had seen Julia Bradbury complete on ‘Great British Walks’ – they showed the easiest bits of course!
We drove down to Lynmouth, parking in the car park by the river. This is where the walk starts and we lost no time having breakfast or anything this time! We headed straight to the back of the car park to cross the river by the small footbridge. The river is so pretty here it’s difficult to imagine that this is the new course forged as a result of the flood in the 1950’s.
The walk starts nice and gently, meandering along the riverside, through the trees with a choice after about 1/2 mile of continuing along the river or heading directly through the woods. We chose the riverside as we knew there were a few areas of interest to see.
This part of the walk is easy and very pretty. We found the site of the Lynrock mineral water factory right alongside the river. They also made ginger beer here right up until 1939. The Atlee brothers who owned the factory lived at Myrtleberry which you pass a little further upriver. Read all about it here.
After a couple of miles you reach Watersmeet House which is now a rather lovely tearoom. Unfortunately we visited shortly after businesses had been allowed to re-open and the Cream Tea available was not freshly made, which was rather disappointing. We shall just have to return in happier times 🙂 (Sounds like a perfect excuse to me!)
After our little break and a quick chat with a fellow camper from our campsite we headed off for the more difficult part of the walk (at this point we didn’t know just how hard it was!) But first we took the detour further upriver (and it was UP) to find the waterfalls. Which we initially walked straight past, only realising our mistake when we got to the road… (Incidentally, if you were to be staying at the same campsite we did – Lynmouth Holiday Retreat – you can see a sign on the road for The Beggars Roost (which is at the entrance to the site), so we think you could probably walk back from here if you wanted to).
Heading back downhill we spotted a small set of steps down to the river which led to a viewpoint to see the waterfall. Remember it had been a very hot, dry summer thus far, and as such the waterfall wasn’t flowing very strongly…. We think it is probably far better in the spring or autumn.
We got back on the correct path (behind the house), which starts climbing almost immediately. And keeps on climbing forever (well, it felt like it anyway – I did consider turning around and going back the easy way at 1 point….). Then, just when you think you’re at the top you turn a corner and, oh look, it’s still going up. Didn’t tell us about THAT did you Julia??!! No, I think you mentioned that there were a ‘couple’ of steep sections after the house. Hmmm…
Having said that once we finally reached the top the views were stunning, and then we had the pleasure of finding a rather nice pub, The Blue Ball Inn at Countisbury, for a well earned 2nd pitstop 🙂
Suitably refreshed we set off for the final section of the walk along the South West Coast Path. Accessed via the churchyard we visited the tiny church of Countisbury, which was rather charming, before picking up the path along the cliff.
Whilst we were glad to finally be heading downhill, it was quite steep in places of this narrow path on the edge of the cliff… Once again though, stunning views 🙂 culminating in a welcome return to Lynmouth to give a final total of 7 miles hiked.
And of course a quick drink in The Ancient Mariner topped the day off nicely!
We would highly recommend this walk even if it’s just to the tearooms and back to Lynmouth. We will almost definitely return and do it again!
Next time read all about our adventures (and walks…) in Symonds Yat!
A ride on the Lynmouth/Lynton cliff railway has been on my bucket list since way before I knew what a bucket list was! Recent appearances on travel programmes re-ignited my interest, plus a walk on Julia Bradbury’s Great British Walks ignited Calv’s interest too – so was the 1st stop on our UK mini road trip decided 🙂
After a slightly stressful run-in to Lynmouth (don’t take the A39 – read why here), we settled down for a few days of walking.
We arrived the day after a big storm and the weather was still a bit dull, but the following day was much better, and we set off, pretty early for us, at about 9.30am. The main reason for this is we were looking for somewhere to treat Calv to a big English Breakfast on his birthday 🙂
We found the footpath out of the site and set off down the lanes and across the fields to head down the hill. Some wonderful views greeted us even at this early part of the walk.
Once we hit the path we weren’t sure which way to go, so we headed left as this seemed the most logical direction. We were wrong as this took us back up the hill and around a gorge back downhill, before heading back up to meet the road skirting Lynton – meaning a walk along the road (some of it on the road) steeply downhill into Lynmouth. It wasn’t a problem, at least we saw more of the countryside!!
Arriving in Lynmouth we headed down towards the main area where there is a good selection of tourist shops, bars, cafes and pubs 🙂 We were here at the end of July so everything was open with social distancing protocols and masks in use.
At the far end of parade of shops we found The Ancient Mariner, just the right degree of quirkiness and a simply wonderful breakfast. We liked it so much we returned a couple more times during our trip 🙂
Revived by our breakfast we set off in search of the cliff railway that I had spent so many years wanting to visit. We first found the seafront and the Rhenish Tower (originally built in 1860 to store salt water for indoor baths, it had to be rebuilt after being destroyed in the disastrous flood of 1952). The historic cliff railway cannot be missed (both literally and figuratively), carving it’s way at a seemingly impossible gradient up the hill as it does! And it is still completely water powered.
At £3 each way for an adult (£2 per child, £1 per dog) it was well worth the total cost of £12 (we came back down later on in the day). A childhood dream finally realised!! I can’t wait to go back and do it again. And again. And again 🙂
At the top we took a walk around Lynton which is a bigger town than Lynmouth with more choice of shops and eateries. Perhaps not quite as charming though.
Completely by chance we looked at a info board in front of the town hall (and cinema. Apparently Lynton is the smallest town in England to have it’s own cinema) and decided to follow the walk up Hollerday Hill to find the old Hollerday House. There really was no evidence left of the house when you got there, the most complete area left was where the tennis court had been, although there is a really good information board.
Once you have walked up (and I mean up) as far as the house it is definitely worth walking the extra 5/10 minutes to the summit of the hill and the site of the old Iron Age Fort. It was VERY windy on the summit, but what a wonderful view we had – to the east the bay in front of Lynmouth, to the west ‘Valley of the Rocks’ and to the North the Welsh coast. We really wanted to visit The Valley of the Rocks, but simply ran out of time. Yet another reason to return 🙂
Once back down in Lynmouth we popped in for a drink in the Ancient Mariner before visiting the Glen Lyn Gorge . This perhaps feels a little expensive at £6 per adult, but it is privately owned and they have provided plenty of pathways up to the waterfalls, together with the loan of a mobility scooter that can get the less abled up to see these. The little museum is brilliant. Once the families left we had the place to ourselves (in these Covid times we waited for them to leave) and we were in there a fair while!
You learn a fair bit about the flood of 1952, which devastated the town, here. The other place is the Flood Memorial Hall which is near The Ancient Mariner. It’s free to visit but was unfortunately closed when we were in town (due to Covid no doubt).
So now we had to get back to the campsite. We knew we had to go uphill, but asked the guy in the Gorge what was the best way. The answer is to go to the right on leaving the gorge, and very soon there is a pathway up through the houses (we missed it at first, but I really don’t know how!!) You start off following the Two Moors Way (Devon’s coast to coast walk).
It is very steep, right from the start. And it doesn’t really get any better for a good long way…. Once off of the tarmacked path and into the trees you zig zag for what seems like miles (and not helped by people coming the other way telling you you’ve still got a long way to go!) before hitting the flattish path near the top. Here to get back to the campsite (Lynmouth and Lynton Holiday Retreat), you need to turn right. Then you will find the gate into the field waymarked for West Lyn. Good luck 🙂
This was a really long day and I’m sure you can imagine our legs were really tired, having walked over 11 miles – half of it up really steep hills. So we didn’t do much more that evening (not even a quick drink in The Beggars Roost...)
With tired legs the next day was spent visiting Ilfracombe. It’s so memorable that I forgot I’d been before….
In my next post I’ll tell you about our walk to Watersmeet and back to Lynmouth (the same walk that Julia Bradbury did on the telly).
Vital advice on how to get to Lynmouth/Lynton in a motorhome or with a caravan. Put it this way – you need to drive much further than you would think (when just looking at a map). You need to take the A361/A399 rather than the obvious looking A39…. Trust me, and read on!
First thing to tell you is that that picture isn’t us!! It’s a library photo trying to show you the problems on Porlock Hill.
On Monday, after a very hectic week or so, we set off on our mini UK roadtrip – first stop Lynton and Lynmouth.
We took a cursory look at the map, saw an A road (the A39) and decided that was probably the best route; set up the sat nav (an Aguri set up for our outfit, which we then proceeded to ignore as we thought she was being stupid – we are humbled and will never ignore here again!!)
We simply had no idea about the A39 (also known as the Atlantic Highway) you see. So this is how we ended up, accidently, tackling Porlock Hill. If you haven’t heard about Porlock Hill can I respectfully suggest that you have a little read about it here….
When we got to the hill (remember, we had no idea about it), the first we knew about any issues was the notice at the junction of the hill itself and the alternative route of the toll road.
Note, the sign says that caravans are ‘advised’ to take the toll road. Let me spell this out, in case you’re in any doubt, DO NOT TAKE YOUR CARAVAN OR YOUR MOTORHOME UP THIS HILL!! I was going to say ‘especially if it’s been raining, or there’s dew or any sign of damp’ – however, this suggests that it’s okay for you to tackle the hill – which it’s not…. So I won’t say that!
The hill is 1in4 (or 25%) – think about that. That means that the road climbs 1 foot for every 4 feet travelled forward. It also has tight bends and steep drop-offs (luckily I didn’t really see these).
As the road got steeper the front wheels starting losing traction briefly. At this point I shut up, held tight, gritted my teeth and hoped for the best. When we got to a sharp left hander about halfway up on the steepest part of the hill, we lost traction again, but this time we coudn’t regain it.
So, we’re stuck in the middle of the road, with the nose poking forward instead of around the bend – we’re going nowhere 😦
But, we had a little advantage in that it was Calv in charge. We jumped out, unhooked the car, I jumped in and promptly reversed into the bank (not helpful really), Calv rolled down the hill and around me before he could regain traction on the other side of the road. (If you watch videos of people tackling this corner you can see that they all take it on the other side of the road).
By the time I rounded the bend he was gone, once started he floored it and made it to the top where we pulled into the first available parking area to re-attach the car.
Then came the downhill section into Lynmouth where we stopped and unhooked the car again, as we realised we were going to have to go up again to get to our campsite. This road up past Lynton to West Lyn was almost as steep – put it this way, in the little car I barely managed to get out of 1st gear – I tried a couple of times, only to have to quickly change back down.
Never have I been so relieved to arrive at a campsite – we certainly won’t be making that mistake again!
However, we’re going to pretend that we did it on purpose (and that we’re not actually idiots) so that we could tell other people about it 1st hand 🙂 (Are you buying that??!)
We’ve now researched the route for if you’re visiting this area, and would recommend the A361 to the A399.
Let me know if you’ve ever made the same mistake (it would be lovely to know that we’re not the only ones!)