A group of us are completing the South West Coastal Path Trail in a series of section hikes, wild camping as we go. This is part two of our journey which was during late November / early December 2021. Yep, it was rather cold and extremely windy!
The one with the amphitheatre campsite, the round of applause and two new walking buddies.
WEATHER: Cold, light winds and drizzle.
DISTANCE: Total: 19 miles
HEALTH: All good. All good. My left pinkie toe is a bit sore.
Braunton to Appledore
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY:
💤 5.30 I slept really well and I’m toasty warm in my sleeping quilt. These puffy pants are genius and whoever created hand warmers needs a medal! I don’t want to get up… so I don’t. Snooze..
☕️ 6 am – I hear noise coming from next doors tent. “Are you awake?” I ask tentatively. “Yes, good morning,” says a chirpy Rebecca. “Let’s get the coffee on”. The lazy me stays in my sleeping quilt, opens the zip of my tent and starts putting the stove on to boil water. Rebecca does the same and we both chat about the night's sleep with the castle glowing behind us. I wasn’t concentrating and before I know it, the pot of now boiling waterfalls off the stove and into my tent. Ouch! Luckily there was only a cups worth, but I’m soaking wet! I mop up, get out of bed, sit in my chair and start again. Lesson learned!
☀️ 7 am – wow! As we finish breakfast and start the dreaded routine of packing up we witness glorious sunshine. This is a wow moment.
🦷 8 am – The cleaning lady of the castle lets us in to use the facilities. Cleaned teeth and we are ready to hit the trail. One last check.. #LeaveNoTrace
🥾 8.15 – Today we are spending most of the day on the Tarka Trail. A local told us that it was named after an otter in a children’s book. It’s very flat and we should easily cruise and get some good miles in today. A Facebook friend is meeting us by the bridge which will be great.
👋 9.20 – We pass lots of runners, dog walkers and cyclists today. Is that Dawn? As the person approached I saw a little hand come up, followed by an enthusiastic wave. Yep, that’s Dawn! We embraced and continued walking together in the rain. We chatted about all sorts of things and were given lots of little local history notes. As we approached a very unusual stone arrangement in the middle of a roundabout, Fawn explains that this is Barnhenge. The locals were up in arms as it’s built from Cornish stone…and we are in Devon!
🥓 10.16 – After 6.5 miles we all three stop at a delightful little converted station called Fremjngton Quay – awe indulge in a good hearty breakfast. Lovely history mini-museum / Heritage Centre. We go up to the lookout tower and enjoy the scenery. Let’s get cracking! The sun is out! Dawn waves goodbye and we are now two again.
🥾 12.40 – The next town is Instow. Our friend Davina is now joining us for a few days. We meet Davina outside the public toilets in Instow (nothing Diffey, and awful loos!). Let’s hike!
🦶 2 pm – Biddeford – starting to feel tired now. 14 miles done. Think we will make it to Appledore not Westward Ho as originally planned.
🌊 2.30 – We follow the estuary and o thought it would be bringing, but the trail takes us up and down through little hidden paths that weave their way through Biddeford. We navigate woods, with constant views of the sea and often derelict boats to our right. I’m enjoying this section.
🍺 3.40 – Have you ever been to Appledore? It’s like something out of a famous five book? The locals have created a Xmas tree from Yarn bombing which is amazing. We work our way through this quirky town with its little cobbled streets and brightly painted cottages. The pub is calling.
🎶 3.50 – The Beaver Inn has a gigantic Beaver on the roof. All heads turn to us as we open the doors and stroll into the bar. There is live music and he is playing 80’s music. A bit of Eric Clapton and then Oasis! I take my heavy pack off and I could easily stay here for a few hours! We have a cup of tea and Davina orders a mulled wine. As we sit down to enjoy the beverages and look out to sea, we make a plan of where to camp. It’s starting to get dark!
👏 4.15 pm As we leave the pub we receive a round of applause from the locals and the musician told us how he had walked the whole SWCP. He kept saying “respect, ladies” and we left the building on a high.
☔️ 4.35 – The high didn’t last long as the weather started to turn. It’s been lovely all day and now the cloud came over and droplets of the wet stuff started falling from the sky. We needed a campsite and we needed one soon!
🏕 4.40 pm – What’s that? It’s an amphitheatre! Cool! It’s built on the grass with different levels but it’s perfect. We all rush to claim our spot just behind the theatre, so it’s not as public and begin to pitch our tents in the rain! Pitching a tent in the rain is horrible. It’s cold, everything is getting wet and it seeps your good morale! I wish we were back in the pub listening to the live music, sitting by the open fire, and drinking mulled wine.
🎥 6 pm – Dinner is done. It’s still raining so we are all held hostage in our tents. I settle in for the night and put on a film (Kevin Hart in The Upside). Before I know it, it’s 9 pm and everyone is already asleep. I brush my teeth and pill my quilt over my head. Night night
We have a tough day tomorrow!
Until next time…. Thank you for reading the blog.