SWCP Walk day 5, Combe Martin to Woolacombe.

Monday 10 August 2015 – Woolacombe, Devon.

14.5 Miles.

Bad start to the day…. I slept OK, which was good, what was not so good was I left the window open all night and my pack was underneath it. Normally this would be OK, but it rained quite hard, and it rained quite hard through the window as well. Things got wet, but fortunately only a little. I picked the pack of the floor and wiped it down and put it on the spare bed in the room while I had a shower and breakfast downstairs. It was still raining so I was not in any sort of rush to start walking.


When I finally decided to get organised to get going, rain or no rain, I found the back of my pack was soaked, the duvet on the bed was soaked, and worse of all – the mattress was soaked. Bollocks !! I thought there must have been water in my stove
from the rain falling in it last night and I just didn’t notice it when I tossed my pack on the bed.. I made a very sheepish approach to the guest house owners and humbly apologised for my stupidity. It was embarrassing and stupid and fortunately they were good about it.

The rain was forecasted to stop at 11:00 so when it had ease to a mere drizzle about 10:30 I left the guest house, and soon was on my way out of Combe Martin. As is usual with these small beach communities when you leave town the first thing you do is walk up a hill. This time on the road side, so feeling good after a days rest I managed to crack on quite quickly. Watermouth Bay is about 30 minutes walk from Combe Martin and as I approached I realised I still had the key to the guest house room in my pocket. What a numbty, this morning was turning in to a disaster. I walked on wondering what to do and decided I would make it to the campground and see if I could easily organise a taxi to take the key back. Fortunately I could, though it was not cheap. Better than losing an hour, and more walking in the rain. The view back through the clouds and rain was worth it though.


There is a fake castle at Watermouth Bay, it looks good, but is a theme park. I didn’t stop.


It was about now I went to have a drink of water from my Camelbak bladder and discovered it was empty. This now fully explains the amount of water that had leaked into my pack and on to the bed. About 1.5 litres worth…. Damn. I am counting this as the third bad thing, so as bad things come in threes – that was it for the day. Whew. I did have a small bottle of water as spare, so emptied that in to the bladder and hoped it was me not tightening the lid properly and not that I had a leak. 


My first stop of the day was at Hele Beach. I needed to get rid of my rain coat as it had stopped raining and was getting to warm, I also needed a few minutes to compose myself as well after the messy start to the day. There was also a sea front cafe selling coffee, cake and water, which was the best thing. The family group were leaving just as I was arriving, so it was good to catch up with them and see how they were travelling.


I caught up and passed them at the top of the big climb out to Beacon Point, over looking Helle and more importantly Ilfracombe where I was planning on stopping for lunch. The clouds had really started to clear by now and it was looking to be a stunning day, with some lovely walking ahead.



Except for these bloody steps…


In the main I liked Ilfracombe, for a really busy holiday town it had a good vibe, normally I hate the busyness of these sorts of places but in this case I didn’t. It is definitely different, how many towns have a giant statue of a pregnant woman. Damien Hurst’s Verity dominates the skyline over the waterfront. I suspect it was a controversial addition to an old fishing town. The changing face of this part of the UK.



As I walked into Ilfracombe I saw a sign advising me to follow the footsteps on the ground for the coast path, unlike a sign, and uselessly they don’t indicate any direction change.


I stopped for lunch in a good local cafe, both the basic coffee and a bacon and egg sandwich went down a treat, I then wandered around trying to find the coast path.


Obviously it went near the coast so I just sort of walked in that direction, eventually coming across some footpath feet quite randomly so I knew I was heading the right way. Up hill of course.


Close to the edge of town I found another sign telling me to follow the feet, and on the other side of the road a different sign telling me to follow the more traditional acorn. Confusing ? not at all…. My one and only complaint about the coast path is the lack of signage in and around the towns. I have mentioned it before in posts so wont labour on it here.



Much as I liked Ilfracombe, It was nice to be back on the cliff tops, the day was turning into a stunner and the views up and down the coast were the same – stunning.



I enjoyed the cliff walk immensely, but all good things come to an end and the trail dropped down into Lee Bay where there was a large and abandoned hotel. It is a small bay and does not have the monster golden sand beaches that are the feature just down the coast, I wonder if the hotel ever had its glory days ?



There was a lot more ascending and descending over the next wee while, none of it particularly high, but some of it was quite steep.


The walk from Bull Point Lighthouse along the cliffs to Morte Point was one of the highlights of a day with lots of highlights, after the dodgy start of course.



Morte Point had some amazing rock formations and would be another place to come back and explore one day, but the day was getting late, mainly due to the late start, so I continued on to Woolacombe which I could now see, as it was my home for the night.




Just before I reached town I caught up with Sandra again, we stopped and had a discussion about where to stay the night. There is one campsite in Woolacombe and apparently it is a bit of a walk inland. We talked about the virtues of walking another couple of miles – up that glorious beach to a campground we could see right at the end.


Some local advise suggested it was caravans only, so I decided I would walk to the Woolacombe Sands Holiday Park, about 20 minutes walking – all up hill.


I rocked into the campsite about 6:30pm and asked for a single tent, one person site and was advised they had a 2 person minimum and it was 18.50 per person. So for my one tent it would be 37 pounds… Yep 30 f**king 7 pounds for one night for one person. I paid less than this for a room in a B and B – with a cooked breakfast! Back in Lynton I paid 6.50 for a lovely spot by a river. Not this hell hole of shouty families, cheap lager, pokie machines and fat dogs. I should, I really should have told them to stick it and walked off to free camp somewhere, but I was tired and hot and wanted to sit down. So I caved. Like they knew I would, the bastards.

I put my tent up and had a shower – I was expecting gold plate and endless hot water – I was disappointed. Sandra had arrived while I was in the shower and was unamused as I was about the cost. We were offered a ride into town with a young couple who were camping between us, but we declined as I needed to charge my phone and my camera, so I ended up eating a poor burger and drinking lager in the campground bar and being tortured by the kids entertainment, the dance off and who is the loudest, the boys or the girls competition. I am sure it was fantastic if you were 10 or the parent of a 10 year old. I am neither so I hated every second of it. I left as soon as I had enough charge…


I was hoping for a sunset over Lundy Island, but it didn’t happen, almost, but not quite.


I bought earplugs, a bottle of beer and retired to my tent to read, write up my notes from the day and listen to some loud nasty punk rock to calm myself down for sleep.

It was a mixed day, started and ended not as good as the bits in between deserved. Loved the walking, and my Camelbak was not leaking either, so it must have been me ! My notebook didn’t tell me how my body felt after the walking, so I am assuming I was feeling good.

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Wannabe writer and photographer. Interested in travel and place. From Auckland, New Zealand.