Day 13 - Hartland Quay to Clovelly
A very different day to the previous twelve. The skies were grey from the outset, with the sea‘s colour merging so the horizon was unclear. It feels so different to have company too, I couldn’t quite believe it last night, and initially was stumbling over my words and feeling a bit otherly. I soon got in the swing of it, and today it has been lovely to have someone to share the experience. As the photo shows, my hair got quite excited too.
The plan was for coastal path all the way to Clovelly today, but I was ready with a back up in case the weather turned nasty. For the first couple of miles it was sporadic rain, not too bad, and there were moments of clearer skies. The climbing was much less severe than yesterday and the cooler weather meant it felt like it would be an easy day.
But as we got to Blegberry Cliff things suddenly changed. The wind and rain started to gust as we were doing a tricky slippery descent, and it felt momentarily perilous. The air was rushing inside my hood, my eyes were pouring, and my hair was whipping in my face. We were a bit rattled. Fortunately the path then led into a valley for a bit, and so the drama eased, but it was enough for us not to want to be on the tops again whilst the weather was unpredictable. Although I was keen for Magda to see how amazing it is here, in weather like that there’s little point in being up high for the sake of it whilst there are no views.
Yesterday my path had been aided by little pink flags that were placed at regular intervals all the way from Bude. I was told near Hartland that they were for a race today. As we were walking we started to encounter runners. All looking extremely lean and fit, one told us that they were going from Bude to Westward Ho. And back. They were tackling the hills as if they were no obstacle, where I was checking each foot hold twice before placing poles and boots, they were literally just running headlong down. My admiration and astonishment was unlimited.
We saw more and more of them, stepping to the side regularly to let them pass. Some were cheerful and smiley, others had a haunted look. It felt like a strangely solitary activity. As we passed Hartland Point the weather really started to close in. The rain was coming down hard and I decided that we would make our way inland. We rounded a corner to get some shelter so that I could check the map, and as if by magic there was a coffee shop. With shelter, and seats. It felt miraculous.
As we were enjoying the respite we saw a couple of runners approaching, one clearly injured, supported by a colleague. It suddenly seemed a less solitary sport. Paul had assisted Freddie, who had a foot injury, off the path. They waited in the shelter with us for the medical back up. Although they were shaking with cold, and Freddie was clearly in pain, they told us about their race. Called Tsunami, it’s a 75 mile run through the night and the next day. They had started at 7pm last night. And that’s on the terrain that almost broke me yesterday, and with the night time visibility almost at zero because of the mist. It is only extraordinary people who can do that. And also extraordinary of Paul to give up his race to look after a fellow competitor.
Feeling a lot more chirpy for a hot drink we set off inland, mainly mirroring the line of the coast. The walking was easy, the wind had dropped a bit, and it was lovely to chat and catch up. We decided to head back towards the coast after a few miles, and there was a footpath that led in the right direction marked on the map. We approached it through a farm, and saw a sign post clearly marking that a path was there. The sign was the only clear thing. The field across which it led was pocked with divots, maybe caused by cattle, and had knee high grass that made them hard to see. After considerable effort and to cut a long and testy story short, the footpath had been allowed to disappear and we added an extra mile or two to our journey by circumnavigating a large field. The video link at the bottom of the blog demonstrates comically just how much of a detour we took. It didn’t feel entirely comical at the time.
We were beginning to feel pretty hungry, and were about to sit in the rain to eat our packed lunch. But then Magda spotted a faint sign on a blackboard that could be read as Tea Room. This induced a considerable spring in her step. At quite a lick we followed the sign to discover it was true and the second refreshment based miracle of the day had occurred. Amazing cakes and special mention to the orange scones. But mainly a dry place to sit down. And an utterly trusting owner who served us and then left us to eat with all the cakes and other stock just there.
We worked our way back to the path at Brownsham, and walked the last couple of miles to Clovelly past the rather manicured grounds near Clovelly Court. These include what’s described as The Cabin. Presumably it was built for the landowner to sit and have great thoughts. It looked more like a bus stop.
And the final descent of the day was down the cobbled street of the village. This felt quite as hazardous as anything we’d encountered, with the cobbles being slick with the rain. We cut an impressive pair, hesitantly inching our way down the street. Hopefully not quite as much rain tomorrow before our ascent again.
Distance travelled: 13 miles
Total ascent: 3075 feet
Calories burned: my watch was on a go slow so no idea
Local tipple - half of Red Lion
Dinner at the Red Lion, Clovelly - lovelly…
Seabass with crushed potatoes, samphire and sauce vierge
Lemon posset and shortbread biscuits
New song of the day
Lucy Dacus - Hot and Heavy
I love her voice, and the instrumental section at the end is great. Thought it might feel a bit country for me, but really enjoyed it.
Video of the day: https://www.relive.cc/view/vmqXNAkkNLO