Walk Day 11 – Hartland Quay to Clovelly

Day 11 – April 15 Hartland Quay to Clovelly
 Weather: Sunny and windy  B&B: The Old Police House (Burscott) (£30)
 Departed: 09:50 Arrived: 14:45  Walked: 4h 20m Rested: 0 hr 46m
 Distance Today: 12.0 mi / 19.31 km  Total Distance: 157.8 mi / 253.95 km
 % Complete: ~ 14.07%  Pint of the Day: Country Life Old Appledore Ale
 GPS Track for: Day 11

At one point I was seriously considering saving a few miles by cutting across the Hartland peninsula, but I’m glad I decided to stick to the SWCP for one more day. The 3-mile stretch to Hartland Point included a few climbs but took just over one hour to complete. The sun was shining but the visibility out to see wasn’t very good so I couldn’t see the distinctive flat-topped Lundy island. Fortunately I did see it yesterday, as well as a freighter making its way towards the Bristol channel. I must admit that I had a definite sense of turning a corner when I rounded Hartland Point and felt that the first leg of my journey was more or less complete.

In addition to a lighthouse Hartland Point is home to a Radar Station. The SWCP normally passed right next to it however the footpath was closed due to cliff erosion, forcing a diversion along a local road. Once on the road I noticed in the distance a small green outbuilding with someone stopping vehicles. Border Control? Perhaps this is some sort of retaliation by Devon folk on tourists from Cornwall? As I neared the building I noticed the Border Officer was knitting, which I must admit seemed very odd. “Lovely Morning!” she said in a disarmingly friendly fashion. This isn’t like any border point I’ve experienced before. The mystery was solved when it was revealed she was in fact a parking attendant collecting money from motorists wishing to park on their private land before visiting Hartland Point.

The next several miles were a pleasant amble along cliff tops and farmer’s fields however the last few miles were a lot bumpier than expected. The area around Windbury Point and Mouthmill required a lot of ascents and descents before plunging into Brownsham Wood. The woodland walk continued for another hour before I reached the picture postcard and privately owned village of Clovelly.

I’m not sure what I was expecting but what I can say is that I wasn’t expecting an admission booth. Fortunately walkers don’t have to pony up but those parking above car-free Clovelly do. It was slightly surreal to stumble in off the SWCP, all hot and sweaty, into a massive modern complex with gift shop, café and assorted tourist tat. Once out the other side I followed the “to the village” signs down cobble-stoned streets and into what appeared to be a film set. The narrow and very steep main street was busy with tourists, many of whom were struggling with the gradient. I made my way down past the shops and homes to the quay below, following Clovelly’s garbage man as he carefully maneuvered his rubbish sleigh down the slippery cobbled streets. He had a difficult and dangerous job as the heavily laden sleigh could run him down if he wasn’t careful. Just as “I wonder if it ever gets away on him” crossed my mind I heard the sound of an out-of-control sleigh just behind me. Fortunately a combination of a sharp corner and him putting his shoulder into it brought it under control, otherwise I could see the tabloid headlines now: “Clovelly Carnage! Hundreds Sleighed by Runaway Rubbish!”.

I enjoyed a pint of Clovelly Cobbler Ale and a Devon Pasty at the Red Lion Inn at the bottom of the hill and then made the long climb back to the top of the hill and on to my b&b in Burscott. There’s nowhere to eat up here so I will be heading back down this evening for something to eat and to celebrate the end of the South West Coast Past, at least for me as tomorrow I will head inland to Barnstaple.

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