You are invited to LEJoG Day 12… bring the Europop
Day 12 pre-amble
You know, when I set out on this walk and later decided to blog about it, I never imagined that Urban Cookie Collective would play any role at all. Yet here I am casually invoking their enormous 1993 hit, which – being as I was much more of an indie than a Eurodance kind of guy – reminds me of nothing other than working behind the bar at Student Union club nights. I got into some Eurodance at the time and some retrospectively, but I’ve never had this one on an iPod. Us indie types did like dancing to other stuff in the 90s though. One of those links could be an alternate title for Day 8…
The quay in this case is the start, at Hartland Quay.
The ‘secret’ is the end of the walk, at Clovelly. In that the charms of the privately-owned village shall remain a secret to me, for I arrived at the Visitor Centre and instinctively recoiled at the idea of paying to spend time there. Dave’s review just confirmed it for me.
And the point? Hartland Point, the north-western tip of Devon, which was passed after just over an hour’s walking.
LEJoG Day 12 (Thursday 5 April 2018)
Hartland Quay to Clovelly (10½ miles)
Cumulative: 154½ miles
Facts: Time on walk: 3 hours 55 minutes. Average speed: 2.68 mph. Weather: Warmest and brightest day of the week – less cloud and no rain. Still – but of course – muddy underfoot in places.
Practicalities: First things first: booked dinner for 8pm and reserved the giant ribs. No way was I leaving The Deck without trying them once. Drove from Bude to Hartland Quay (40 minutes); parked in the upper car park, which is at the top of a steep climb out of Hartland Quay and on the road to Hartland.
Start: Hartland Quay Hotel, 11:15am. End: Clovelly Visitor Centre, 3:40pm.
Well, there’s no doubting one thing – not only is this walk 3 hours shorter than Day 11, it’s a damn sight easier. In fact it’s probably the easiest since Day 7.
The first 3 miles, to Hartland Point, is one of the most thoroughly enjoyable sections of the SWCP. It’s challenging in places, but not relentless like Day 11 and the first part of Day 10. The views are as glorious as ever. Lundy Island starts to come into view and excitement begins to mount about reaching the tip of Devon. You sense the remoteness again, although those first three miles were probably the busiest of the week on the path, especially as Hartland Point approached. The improved weather doubtless played its part. There’s a pleasing mix of cliff tops, beaches, green hills and fields. The fields are predominant in the last half mile before the Point. The Hartland Peninsula itself is an ideal spot for lunch, and there’s an excellent little café to encourage you further.
Hartland Point, viewed from the eastern side
Now you head east, past the heliport and the distinctively-shaped radar station:
Toadstool-shaped radar station near Hartland Point
Soon afterwards, border fences and trees separate you from the cliffs overlooking Shipload Bay. Proceeding through fields and farmland for several miles, on mainly level ground, you may start to miss the wilder terrain that has become so familiar over the last few days. Also, this is where all the muddy patches were to be found last year. We’re not talking Spekes Mill or anything like it though.
The next moment of interest, after about an hour of relative monotony, is the first of two serious descents standing between you and Clovelly. This takes you from Windbury Hill Fort, above Beckland Cliffs, through woods and down to the valley, past a small waterfall and across a footbridge before climbing again to the edge of Brownsham Wood. This sudden reminder of days gone by came as such a shock I had to stop for fifteen minutes after reaching the top of the hill.
Entering Brownsham Wood, you then make an even steeper descent towards Mouthmill Beach. The highlight here is undoubtedly Blackchurch Rock. I have no recollection of why I failed to photograph this – it certainly wasn’t my phone battery, because I used the mobile to call a taxi later. An appalling oversight – detention, see me.
There is quite a nasty little climb here, to Gallantry Bower, but once it’s over the rest of the journey is spent almost entirely in woodland. I’ve done a lot of that sort of walking, and you can become blasé over the years. But here it was a real palate cleanser after several days of cliffs and a rather dull hour in fields, and you can hardly ask for a better approach to Clovelly.
After the walk
On arrival I made my way to the back of the Visitor Centre and got rid of my waterproof trousers. I wanted to see if I could catch a bus to Bude. Frustratingly there was no way through from where I was to the bus stop and Visitor Centre car park. I had to walk along the road (no verge or pavement) and find the vehicle entrance. It was not good news – no bus until 5:40, nothing as far as Bude and the only one heading my way would stop in Hartland, 2½ miles from where I was parked. Still, I resolved to see it out. Perhaps I could pop into Clovelly itself for a bit? And this is when I looked at the price and couldn’t see the point.
Attempting to kill time in a massive car park for an hour and a half is… well, it’s not exactly this. I picked mud off my boots. Tried to read my guidebook, even though it was the same one I’d been reading all day and all of the week. I didn’t even surf the net because my phone battery was low and I was already thinking ‘taxi’ as a contingency plan. It started to get cold, so I sat in the shelter with some Visitor Centre workers also waiting for the bus. One of them mentioned that it was due at 6:20: the timetable I’d consulted was wrong. I obtained direct verbal confirmation of this depressing truth, and that was that. Called my taxi man from last night, he recognised my voice, booked a taxi to Hartland Quay (different driver) paid £35. Who cares.
The giant ribs were fucking amazing and well worth the wait. If you’re in town, go to the Deck. Don’t swear though.
Postscript – My Listening Pleasure
More of the Pulp Fiction soundtrack – you can see the Samuel L. Jackson influence in my language – and Body Pump compilation.
Picture (5 April 2018) shows a view from near Hartland Point, with Lundy Island just visible on the horizon.
Next: Day 13 (6 April 2018)… in which those oh-so-familiar coastal cliffs are suddenly left behind, never to return.