Camping: North Devon in September

I’ve left it such a long time to write up our camping holiday to North Devon, that it wouldn’t be realistic now to break it down day by day. Therefore, here’s an overview and some pictures to whet your appetite.

Ilfracombe on a very windy day. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

This was the poet’s first visit to North Devon, so the first day was spent giving him a bit of a tour. We drove along all of the coast, down as far as Woolacombe. It was very windy. Gales were recorded at over 60mph in our neck of the woods, but they were much, much stronger in the north of England at the same time.

Beach huts on Woolacombe Beach. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The first night was dreadful with those winds. It’s quite ironic that we weren’t able to put the windbreak up and by the time the wind dropped later in the week, the end of the tent that the windbreak usually went around was so damaged, it was held together with guy ropes. So the windbreak stayed in the roofbox on the car.

The tea rooms at Watersmeet. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We lost the only pole that goes with our tent. It snapped in a couple of places and had to be repaired with gaffer tape. Fortunately, we had a spare pole back home so we could leave this one in the bin when we left. We also lost at least one guy-tab, so that will need repairing before we take the tent out again.

Just one reason why I love Exmoor so much. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We stopped off at Ilfracombe to get something to eat, a few supplies and to take the first photographs. Back in the day, when I used to go to North Devon with my parent, we’d spend almost every evening in Ilfracombe, where my brother used to fish from the pier.

Another reason I love Exmoor so much. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
The next photo-stop was Woolacombe, which was where my family pitched their caravan for six years on the trot. We visited Little Roadway Farm, where we used to take the caravan, and we went down to the beach, where it was still incredibly windy.
Lord Rufus having fun on Putsborough Beach. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we were kids, this beach at Woolacombe was always, always packed. It’s a massive stretch of sand that goes a very long way out to the sea when the tide is out. There were several Land Rovers that patrolled the beach throughout the day collecting lost children. Lost children used to gravitate towards my dad too, for some reason. If it were today, he’d probably be arrested!

From the beach at Woolacombe you can see Lundy Island – sometimes. Rain used to follow my dad everywhere he went. It still does. And when we were in North Devon we had a saying: if you could see Lundy, it was going to rain; if you couldn’t see Lundy, it already was raining. It was no different on our visit this time. But we could see Lundy on the two days we were in the right place. Our problem wasn’t the rain, though. It was the wind.

The next day I took the poet to Watersmeet. This is where the West and East Lyn rivers meet, and I knew he would love the picturesque beauty spot where salmon and dippers can be seen on the babbling waters. It did rain today and there was such a massive queue to get into the tea rooms there that we abandoned the idea and carried on with our journey.

Putsborough Beach. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

One of my most favourite places on Earth is Exmoor. I love the wild-ness of it. I love the heather in the summer. I love to be able to see the sea one way and miles and miles of moorland the other way. Even when it’s foggy or raining I’m happy to park up on Exmoor and just gaze. Naturally this meant a drive around Exmoor, and I hope the two pictures I’ve shared demonstrate at least two of the aspects I love about the place.

The Doone Valley, Exmoor. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

After Exmoor, we dropped down into Putsborough late one day. Because the beach at Woolacombe used to get so busy, Putsborough was where we headed as a family “in the old days”. There are rocks there, and lots of places that can act as markers for children finding their way back to their families from the sea.

The Valley of the Rocks. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

One half of the beach at Putsborough was virtually empty with absolutely no dogs on there. So we took Rufus down there and took him off his lead. He had a whale of a time … it was only when we were climbing back up to the car park that we saw the sign:

← DOG-FREE BEACH THIS WAY

DOG-FRIENDLY BEACH THIS WAY →

Yup, you guessed it, we were on the dog-free beach. Oops. Ah well, at least he had a good time, and he behaved himself very, very well.

Clovelly. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Back up on Exmoor, we had to pay a visit to Lorna Doone country in the Doone Valley. Lorna Doone was, of course, a figment of RD Blackmore’s imagination. This doesn’t stop a small church in the middle of the moors claiming to be the one where “the shooting” took place. When we were little, there was a patch of “blood” on the floor of the church where the victim was alleged to have bled out. By the time I took the poet, this little stain was actually rust from a leaky radiator!

We camped at the Camping and Caravan Club camp site above Lynton & Lynmouth, a small town right next to the Valley of the Rocks. Here there were such spectacular sunsets that we had to have a few goes at photographing this beautiful place. So after tea at least twice we went down there to take the pictures.

Possibly one of the most southern places on this north coast of Devon is the small fishing village of Clovelly. Here a cobbled road takes the pedestrian (vehicles aren’t allowed) down a steep and winding hill to the harbour. There’s a car park at the top of the hill and an extensive visitor centre through which an admission fee is paid. There’s also a Land Rover that takes those visitors that need or want a lift down the back way to the harbour.

Hartland Point, with Lundy Island on the horizon. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We walked down into the village, but we jumped on the Land Rover to come back. And as we were in that part of the country, when we got back to the car we continued to drive to Hartland Point where there’s a lighthouse. Unfortunately, public access to the lighthouse was closed while we were there due to them doing some land-moving work. We did, however, get a cracking view of Lundy Island.

Ilfracombe Harbour. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On our last day, we headed back to Ilfracombe for a wander around the town and harbour. I was most disappointed to see that the pier there is much smaller than I remember when my brother fished from it. I’m not sure if it was made bigger in my memory or if they’ve shortened it. It’s still, however, a very lovely place.

Lynton & Lynmouth. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Back in Lynton & Lynmouth, we had a final wander round and a trip down the Lynton & Lynton Cliff Railway and back, and we had fish and chips for tea.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak preview into a part of the country that I love very much. And now the poet loves it too. I also hope the selection of pictures I’ve made does it justice. He took several hundred! So I was unable to share them all. However, you can see more on his Instagram or on his website.

Thank you for reading. 😀

Family snap on Putsborough Beach. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
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