Bursdon Moor near Hartland to Tintern, Wales UK (1,574km)

Jul 25, 2012

We took a fair amount of time over the first part of our trip today ooohing and aaahing over the spectacular scenery then had to get the lead out to get here at a reasonable hour.

We passed through Barnstaple and were in awe at the view we had as we crossed a large bridge with the Estuary out to our left some distance away and the picturesque village and port of sorts of Barnstaple to our right. Reminiscent of many old English paintings from my childhood. We enjoyed a wonderful trek down a lush and leafy Hele Valley between Barnstaple and Ilfracombe which was lovely and cool and subsequently discovered the beautiful little village of Ilfracombe nestled on the side of steep hills leading further down the valley to the beach some distance away.

Street view in Ilfracombe

The flowers on the roadside over the last day or so have been increasing in number and intensity of colour. They range from light pink through to deep purple and white to cream to deep yellow. The numbers have increased as we have headed north, don’t know if that is changing countryside or extended days of sunshine .… or both. Also many crops being harvested and hay down and being raked everywhere. Making the most of the last week’s sunshine no doubt. The locals everywhere we go are quick to tell us it is the first they have seen summer.

We have wound our way along the coastline as we headed north east to make our way into Wales. Again we were spoilt for choice with wonderful Cornwall then Somerset views across manicured farmland to the coast with increasing land holding sizes as we progressed into Wales . We also had a couple of visual highlights compliments of a local tip and also Neil Oliver’s ‘Coast’ Documentary.

On our passage through the Rock Valley Road on Castle Hill Road we found a Toll Point would you believe … right outside the Castle Gate… you have to love free enterprise…at least I think that’s what it was!

Ilfracombe mine tunnels – Compliments of Neil Oliver, Back in 1824 Miners hand dug mine tunnels through the hillside between the town of Ilfracombe and the Beach to provide 3 bathing areas (separate for men and women of course). It was a lovely cool walk through the tunnels when we visited in the morning. The first site was sandy and in full sun, the second area is now walled off and the third beach is fine black slate chips but soft underfoot and the beach itself was still in the shade so the children were having a lovely time in the water and the spectators were out of the sun. There were also a number of spots for coffee, play areas for children and some deck chairs to hire so they are having a serious go at catering for all sorts of people.

Rock Valley Road down on the coast – Compliments of a local garage attendant who supplied a bolt for Norm’s bike seat - the Woody Bay to Lynton Road. Incredible! Super narrow, barely a lane wide and thankfully only met a couple of vehicles BUT… it was all kinds of spectacular. The temperature on the lane was a comfortable cool with heavy shade overhead and the roads surrounded by lush trees and vine growth and the stone walls looked more like moss block walls interspersed with ferny / mossy blocks. Shame it was so dark and narrow, it would have made for an award winning picture opportunity….had there been room to safely stop to take it!!!. Cannot believe how fortunate we were to experience it.

The view from our lunch spot in Lynton

Our ride down a reasonably scary short cut lane into Tintern Village was spectacular although a breath holding experience…and some of the lanes we have been on today with a 25% gradient helps me to realise that our 33% gradient on the Hardknott pass in 2010 really would have earned me a big gnarly ‘Hardknott Guides Badge’ ….had I ever been a Girl Guide. Tintern itself is a tiny little Village which hugs the valley walls and welcomed us with a

Bits and Bobs:

Ever since we’ve arrived I’ve found myself ‘thinking’ about the blog …. and other things in a British accent .… I know, sounds crazy doesn’t it …but since we have been following some of the coastal towns Norm has been viewing on the ‘Coast’ Documentary, he confessed he has been thinking about it all in Neil Oliver’s Scottish accent …. so I feel a bit better about that now .... I think!

Last nights’ Accommodation:

West Country Inn, Bursdon Moor near Hartland, England UK
An original 16th Century Coaching Inn (the first when entering Devon, the last when leaving on the A39). We had a quirky but adequate room with en-suite bathroom and probably the most delicious meal we have had since arriving in the UK in their dining room last night. The road was very busy when we arrived but the windows shut the noise out ... and the traffic died away to close to nothing overnight. This was literally a Coaching Inn in the ‘middle of nowhere’ for the times it was built. Our hosts were welcoming and we were grateful for all that was offered.

A view of the West Country Inn from the A39.