In which: the Devon coast beckons once again ● I depart from Woolacombe after a three-year gap ● sand fills much of my day ● I keep clear of the Royal Marines ● I gaze across 1200 metres of water to Saturday afternoon’s return to the sea ● I encounter the Ilfracombe branch line, 32 years too late for a train ● fish and chips are popular
Date: 6 April 2012 Time of walk: 0845 to 1545 Today’s walking: 27.9 km Progress along SWCP: 25.2 km Estimated ascent: 460 metres
Day 5 of the South West Coast Path is the first of another four-day holiday on the path, having walked parts of the Cornish coast since I reached Woolacombe in 2009. Once again I was staying at the B&B called Bellacombe – and the moment I was in the door it appeared that I’d been recognised and I was asked in a slightly puzzled tone if I’d stayed there before. Puzzled, because coastal path walkers don’t normally come back, but I was an exception because this was the end of one year and the start of another. I had the same very pleasant bedroom as before, and following advice from Julia I went to Bar Electric for dinner, where I had a lovely pizza, looking out at the sea and Lundy with the sun gradually setting, with a good book, a nice drop of wine, and eventually some superb ice-cream to wrap up a very pleasant evening.
In the morning it was a gentle start to the day with a slowish breakfast as I chatted with Julia. She advised me to try Squires in Braunton tonight for fish and chips, though warned me that it was very popular. The weather this morning was lovely, and it was a great view over the valley down to the sea from the breakfast table.
From here it was a short walk to North Cottage where I was staying for the night. Two rings on the doorbell provoked no reaction; the third resulted in a guest appearing at the door, but she said she was going out shortly. I was content to drop my bag and go for a wander in the town, but she didn’t feel comfortable doing that. She thought the owner might be in the garden, so I found another door and went through to the garden where I found Mrs Watkins cutting the lawn. It struck me that it wasn’t a terribly satisfactory arrangement to be unable to know when booked (or unbooked) guests arrive at your door – particularly as I had, as requested, provided 24 hours’ notice of my expected time of arrival and was only 15 minutes early.
Anyway, I was shown to my room where I had a nap for a while before going out to explore the town. I rejected a few places before coming across Squires, the fish and chips shop recommended by Julia in Woolacombe, but there was a very long queue outside, so I kept looking, soon coming across a less popular fish and chip shop that also offered tables. The food was good if not spectacular, and I took my time over it before heading back to North Cottage.