With travel restrictions slightly relaxed, but not 100% and that there is still uncertainty of normalcy but wanting to get out of London, I opted to jump on the train to explore Northern Devon. The past five years living in London, I had gone to Cornwall. There are contrasts between the two, and both offer resounding beauty.
From Paddington I took the train, with my mask in tow, to Barnstaple, with a connection in Exeter St. David’s then the 319 bus to Horns Cross, Bideford. This area of Devon can be challenging to get around without a car, but being in the UK, public transportation is top-notch. I planned out my trip, which consisted of 2 1/2 days of hiking and taking in the scenery. My first night was at the Hoops Inn with its beautiful thatched roof. Slightly expensive but with travelling being so far and few and most of my trips cancelled, I disregarded the expense. Getting to Hoops Inn was a little tricky from the bus stop as the main route A39 is busy with traffic and no pedestrian pavement/sidewalk. I saw a footpath sign, so I turned off into a field, but there were no additional signage or marked pathways, so I ended up backtracking to the road.
I was anxious to get out on the trail and after checking in, I walked into a wheat field behind Hoops Inn and then a dirt road that took me on the path to Buck’s Mills (2 1/2 miles). A beautiful walk, yet minimal coastal views. Bucks Mills is a hidden gem of a tiny village. There were not many people, and I made my way down to the ocean, with its large pebble rocks and striking waterfall.
The following day, I ventured back towards the bus station where I stayed at the Coach and Horses. Instead of walking back on the main road, I took to the fields again and veered to the right. Felt as if I was walking in a circle trudging through the wheat field but kept my sense of direction. I ended up on someone’s farm and then climbed a fence to get on the dirt road. I guess this could be considered an adventurous outing, country style.
After dropping off my bag, a 20 min walk to Peppercombe beach on a quiet road into the amazing forested green lush footpath trail that led me onto the beach. Pure tranquillity and seclusion with rugged red sandstone cliffs in the backdrop. Walked upon the array of different shapes and coloured rocks and took in the view.
Next days hike, I bypassed Buck’s Mills and climbed the hill towards Clovelly (2 miles). Of course, my walk took longer as I took in the views and unique trail with spectacular looking trees that offered coverage from the on and off sprinkles of rain. The coastal path came to an end onto The Hobby Drive dirt road that led me to Clovelly. An appealing fishing village with a cobblestone street set back in time but was slightly overcrowded for my taste, especially during these surreal times. As it was Sunday, I found out that there was no bus service back to Horns Cross, so took a taxi. Of course, the pub was open, so I took a meal and chatted with some of the locals.
I would venture back to this area for its beauty, forested canopy, and beachfront view of Peppercombe beach. I would then take a right onto the coastal path hiking trail and head towards Westward Ho.