Orford Ness Photography Tour. P2 – bits and pieces.

Saturday 16 July 2016 – Orford Ness, Suffolk.

This is part two of a three part post of images taken at an overnight photography tour to Orford Ness. I really enjoyed Orford Ness. It is my kind of place; flat, wind exposed, a bit bleak and ‘flat’ coloured, with the added bonus of visually and historically interesting buildings. The photo tour was very enjoyable, I learnt a bit and took more photos in the 24 hours I was there than in any 24 period before.

I particularly enjoyed taking photos of some of the detail inside the buildings, rusty and faded light fittings, old electrical boxes and cables. Not the sort of things I normally take photos of, I am a wide angle lens big sky kind of guy, so this was a new challenge for me.

I was looking for lines and angles, rust and little bits of detail in the decay. There was not a lot to see as most of the buildings have been stripped of saleable material, you can see this in the cut off cables in some of the rooms. It would make for a good movie location. Taking an organised photo tour of the ‘Ness allowed us to access some of the buildings that a day visitor is restricted from entering, or even getting near to.


One of the first rooms we entered had these wonderful switches on the wall, I have no idea what they controlled, the cryptic labelling made them even more interesting.




This rusting out radiator was one of favourite things in the whole ‘Ness and was on the wall below the switches.


As we walked around the various buildings I was looking for straight and clean lines to contrast against the rusty old switches and cables.







The switches themselves were interesting too. What did they do?




Most of the cabinetry had been removed, though there were the odd one left here and there. I like the birds nest in this one.




The last building we visited was the old Navy, Army, Air Force Institute ‘NAAFI’ building. It is being turned into a museum, and is not yet open to the public, but it did have one of the old high speed cameras they used to record explosions and other experiments.


I will finish this post with another one of the lovely of radiators.


There will be one last set of images after this one. Things taken through windows and doors.


Orford Ness Photography Tour. P1

Saturday 16 July 2016 – Orford Ness, Suffolk.

Steve and I were meeting the rest of the group and the tour leaders at 5:00pm at the National Trust office on the pier in Orford. We left Leiston Abbey with what seemed like plenty of time, but only arrived a few minutes early. One of the other group members was waiting when we got there, I think most people were impacted a bit by traffic, one guy was really late, traffic ruined his day.

There were eight of us on the tour, two photo guides and six punters, all middle aged blokes :). This photo is by Steve.


National Trust run one overnight tour to Orford Ness a year, though a number of photography and other groups can book private trips. This is the only way to see the area after hours and the only way to get access to some of the closed off sections. To enter the buildings that were open to us we all had to wear hard hats. Once inside you can see why, a number of the buildings had material dangling loosely from their open and exposed roofs. As these buildings get more and more run down and dangerous they will slowly close and one day there will be no access at all.

For more about Orford Ness, check out my last visit here.

This was to be a 24 hour stay, it was a photography based tour, and the aim was to make as much of the available light, and dark, as possible. We were out and about from soon after we arrived and had been briefed what we will be doing until a late dinner about 9:30pm, back out again till midnight and up again at 4:30 for sunrise. I took more photos in those 24 hours then in any previous 24 hour period. I am not a prolific photographer – my habit is to take one, maybe two images of something and then move on. I took about 350 photos, an extraordinary amount for me. There was a lot to see and do! I am going to split the tour into two or three posts, I will see how I go. This first post will be a general overview of the 24 hours.

After finding bunks and unpacking our kit we jumped into a National Trust Land Rover and an electric buggy and headed off on a tour of the site. Other than the guides I was the only person who had been here before. The first place we visited was through the no-entry for the public gate and up to the far end of the Advanced Weapons Research Areas (AWRE) to labs 4 and 5, the ‘pagodas’ and the places I wanted to see the most – I was very excited to know we were going to be able to see inside these places.


The pagodas were built in the 1950s to test components used in nuclear weapons, mainly the triggers and detonators. There was never any acknowledgement that any fissionable material was ever on the Ness, but of course, what secrets the M.O.D. have will not be revealed for a long time yet. The roof was designed to collapse and seal the room below in the event of an explosion, I think they look very mysterious. Brutalism in the architectural and the real sense.


There is very little left to see inside any of the structures, when the M.O.D. left in the 1970s the site was savaged by metal collectors and scavengers and most things of value was stripped out. There are still a few bits and pieces and this made it quite interesting from a photographic point of view. I took a lot of pictures of the fittings that remained and these will make up my next post.


We spent a few minutes looking around one of the pagodas before heading off to the far end of the site to the north of the light house to have a look around one of the more desolate areas, and to check out a good location for tomorrow’s sunrise. I was just taken with the flatness of the land and the big, big expansive sky above it – a sky filled with lovely clouds.


As it drew closer to the end of the day we headed back to the hut and took some photos back towards Orford and its castle. The sunset was not particularly brilliant to start with, though there was some late flare that lit the sky as we were eating our evening meal.

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I am not often out in the ‘golden hour’, that period of time around sunset and sunrise, when the light is mellow and filtered. It is the landscape photographers best light, and I never use it. Don’t ask me why – perhaps now I am not working and have a car I could nip out to the forest in the evening?


Once it had gotten dark we headed out again to take some long exposure night images, there was a bit too much cloud around to get much moonlight – or any star trails. This is a one minute exposure towards the lights of Harwich. I haven’t done any night photography for ages and really enjoyed it, though it was very windy so not the best of conditions, even with a fairly sturdy tripod.


It was past midnight when we headed back to the hut for some ‘sleep’ before a 4:30am start, coffee and then back out for the sunrise. Like the sunset the night before it was not a great glowing light fest, though it was good to be out in the early morning light.

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This photo of me is by John, one of the tutors, I was probably taking the above photo.


After breakfast we went back up to the AWRE area for a more detailed explore of the buildings. We were split into two groups making it easier for us all to get time in each location and look for images. Being on a tour means we could ignore the signs and enter some of these spaces, some were deemed too unsafe to enter.


I love these buildings, I love their shape, and the harsh design and build and I love their location on this flat, desolate and ancient area.

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I spent a lot of time picking out the small details, the photos will make up the bulk of the next post. I was looking for industrial shapes, and of course a bit of decay! Like this extractor pipe.



Most of the day was spent out and about, the light wasn’t brilliant, it was a bit bright for my taste, I would have preferred more dark cloud – but at least it was not uber bright and sunny.


Though we were looking for a patch of bright sun to get the shadows from the failing roof structures in the back of laboratory 1. Luck was briefly on our side! You can see why you need a hard hat to enter these places. We were not allowed into the main space as those ducts are hanging quite precariously. Interestingly; that ground looks like it is a flat floor, but on the far side is a 12 foot deep pathway about a yard wide. It is impossible to see, only old photos of the site reveal it. If you wandered over there you would disappear into the mire, possibly to never be seen again.

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The interior of this building was excellent for photos, there was a surprisingly large amount of ‘stuff’ left inside. We spent a lot of time discussing what it was for. The shell of the centrifuge was quite obvious, but what it was for is unknown.

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Another of the buildings we visited had a centrifuge we could see in to. It is all so interesting, yet so little is publicly known about what actually happened in these buildings. We know that many things were invented or tested on Orford Ness, that experiments with things like high speed cameras, radar, weapon systems and explosive triggers for nuclear bombs happened here. But what really went on ?  One day we will know.


All too soon it was mid-afternoon and time to pack up and head homeward. Steve and I left with the early group, some of the others continued on to see things like the lighthouse, which I had visited before. I was keen to get back to London as I have to be up at 5:00am tomorrow to go to Spain. I needed some sleep 🙂

It was a very enjoyable and educational trip, the guides/tutors were great and my fellow photographers were a good bunch to hang out with and I look forward to seeing some of the photos that other have made, and how they may have seen Orford Ness.

I might go next year!


Leiston Abbey

Friday 15 July 2016 – Leiston Abbey, Suffolk.

Three months ago I resigned from my job, and after a very busy few weeks I finished yesterday. I am now officially ‘between jobs’ as they say, though I do not have another job to go to quite yet, a situation that should resolve itself next week. I say this hopefully. The good news is there appears to be plenty of work out there when I choose to start looking with any vigour.

I was really looking forward to this weekend, and not just because I do not have to go to work on Monday. Tonight I am staying on Orford Ness as part of a photography tour of the area. After my visit two months ago I was very much looking forward to going back, and hopefully seeing some of the places that the general public cannot access.

My friend Steve is coming along for the trip, unlike me he is working so I picked him up from work at lunch time and we set off towards Suffolk. We left London early so we could squeeze in a quick visit to Leiston Abbey on the way to Orford. The abbey is only a few miles away and looked like it was worth a visit as we were in the neighbourhood.


The abbey was originally built nearby in 1182 by Ranulf de Glanville, but had to be dismantled and relocated due to being built on land that turned out to be a bit swampy. The new abbey was built using the material from the original, but incorporated some of the more modern Norman features into its original Saxon design. 


There are some interesting details that can still be seen, I quite liked this stairway (to heaven?) heading up in to a destroyed tower.


The outside walls were finished in this lovely chequerwork, which is still visible around the edges of the main church.


The abbey was home to Augustinian canons and was a working abbey, unlike monks the canons took on pastoral and preaching work in the local area.


After the suppression of the monasteries in 1546 when the abbey was largely pulled down the site was given to King Henry VIII’s brother-in-law Charles Brandon. He built a farmhouse in one corner and the ruins were used to shelter stock.

IMG_0276The building is currently owned by a music school, but the grounds and ruins are managed by English Heritage.

Unusually for a free and un-manned ruin there is a small viewing platform which allowed for a nice view from slightly above ground level.


>My favourite bits of the site were all the arches that were left undamaged, or partly damaged and how they could be used to visually link the separate sections together.

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Steve liked the arches as well. 


Even though I had seen some photos and read a little about the site, I was quite surprised at how large it was. It is well worth a visit.


We had to be at Orford to catch the 5:00pm ferry over to the Ness, so our time here was quite short, but with Orford Ness as our next destination I left this lovely abbey in eager anticipation of good things to come.

SWCP Walk Part 2, Day 3. Westward Ho! to Clovelly.

Sunday 12 June 2016 – Clovelly, Devon.

Day three of three, almost over already. However, today was what the last two days were building up to. No more tar seal, no more flat wide paths, just up hill, down hill, mud and rock. All accompanied by the sound of the sea. Yes!

I was awake fairly early and out for breakfast at the agreed time of 8:30. It was nice to have breakfast with other people after a couple of days on my own in B and B’s. Jilly the Air B n B hostess had family staying, we had all travelled extensively at different points in our lives so had some common and interesting experiences. It also helped me delay my departure until after the first shower of the day had passed.

I left as soon the rain stopped and got down to the waterfront just as the next shower arrived. Westward Ho! has its own haunted house on the edge of town, I wonder how long it has been for sale? Right next to a massive, and expanding holiday camp; I wouldn’t buy haunted or not, though it is right by the beach. I had to stop to put on my jacket and pack cover. They stayed on for quite a while. My jacket is hopeless, it keeps the rain out well, but it is not designed for warm weather walking. I was wetter inside than out, no breathability at all, I am going to have to invest in a new summer jacket before I start my next stage of walking.



The first kilometre out of Westward Ho! follows a cliff side path that seems to be popular with dog walkers, local runners and all sorts of people, there were even two couples that looked to be doing a long walk as well, carrying heavy packs and walking poles. I was hoping it was not going to be that crowded for the entire day. The view towards Clovelly, my destination at the end of this 17 or so KM walk was rather gloomy. I knew it was out there somewhere.


This was to be the toughest of the three days walking, there is a lot of up and down to complete and with a slippery trail underfoot precautions needed to be taken. I will say that I was glad when I did arrive in Clovelly, my legs were done. It is a stunning section of coast, and though the weather did not come to the party and it was a bit miserable out there, I was relishing being out in the ‘wild’ again. I was mostly on my own, there were a couple walking at a similar pace to me and we chatted on the numerous occasions we passed each other. The view, both in front and behind kept appearing and disappearing, along with rain showers all morning, fortunately the rain was light for most of it and I did not get overly wet, but I did have to stop and I took a lot of photos today. The cliffs, the path, the flowers and the old lime kilns.






Clovelly still refused to make an appearance, though Bucks Mills was a small dot half way along the cliff side..


The path dropped down close to the beach in a couple of places, and in both there have been efforts to corral the vast amount of rubbish washed up each year. At this particular spot someone had made a crude shelter and this great seat out of drift wood and netting, nearby there were piles and piles of washed up plastic junk. Well done to the volunteers who go out to clean our beaches and park lands. It started to rain again just as I was taking the picture so I did not linger, much as I needed the rest.


It was back up hill, yet again.


Peppercombe Beach was my next break stop, the red cliffs here are quite unusual so worth the extra few minutes walk down to the beach, though my legs were cursing a bit as I walked back up again.



There was still no sight of Clovelly in the distance. I had caught glimpses of it earlier in the day so knew it did actually exist.


Naturally there was a climb out.



Bucks Mills was the next stop point, and where I had planned on taking lunch. As I was coming down the wooded hill in to the village I knew I had been here before and exactly where I was going to pop out. This was one of the stop points where we met Malcolm and Tom when they ran the entire 630 Miles of the path back in 2012 and I was support crew. This was also when my obsession with the path started, I blame them.


The preceding two days walking had lulled me into an act of complete stupidity, something I am slightly prone to. I had got used to just walking from town to town, picking up water and snacks as I went. Well there was nowhere to pick up food and water on this entire leg. I had almost no water left in my tiny water bottle, though I did pack energy bars so was not completely bereft of food. As I dropped down into Bucks Mills I was hoping there might be something open. There was something. It was just not open.


At the top of the path down to the beach sits Look out Cottage a tiny studio used by the artists Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards, it was their cabin and studio from the 20s to the 1970s and is now locked up and empty. I am not sure who owns it but I believe it to be left fairly much as it was when it stopped being a studio. I snuck in through the gate and took a photo in the window. It looked so rustic inside, that candle holder just harks back to much simpler times.


I carried on down to the sea front, even if I couldn’t drink I could at least take a break, east a snack, have a sit down and enjoy the sea for a few minutes. I was so glad I did as there was an old boat shed at the end of the jetty and low and behold there was a tap. Wonderful. I drank two bottles of water while I munched on bars, and then filled up once more before I headed off again. Thanks Bucks Mills!


There was a festival (and a party) going on in Clovelly today, I could hear loud music as I walked for most of the morning, I must say it did not inspire me to set a cracking pace, I dragged my feet a bit with the hope of arriving after it had all quietened down. The seaweed festival wasn’t really my thing. The walk from Bucks Mills was lovely, mostly through gorgeous wood lands, with rare and ancient cliff oaks and bizarrely gigantic rhododendron bushes on the way. None of my tree photos were particularly good, so here are some shrubs.



Finally after about five hours of walking I was on Hobby Drive, the roadway into Clovelly. I sort of thought this was going to be a short road way in, but it took almost an hour to walk it. It was not a short walk in.


As I approached the cliff top above Clovelly I caught my first glimpse of it through the trees. There were a few walkers up here from their day out in the village and I saw a few more puffing their way up the hill. You can see some of the gazebos from the fair on the wharf, luckily things were quietening down for the day.


I have been looking forward to visiting Clovelly, I did not go down to the village in 2012, but have heard a lot about it. I am booked into an inn for the night, it was expensive as you would expect in such a small place. There is no way to get back to London late on a Sunday, so this was the price I paid – a lot, to do my walk. Clovelly is basically one narrow cobbled street down to the sea, it is part of a private estate and there are no cars. It sounds idyllic and I imagine it can be, though I really surprised myself by not liking it much. Maybe it was the price of everything – justified as things have to ported by hand, maybe it was the aftermath of the festival and there had also been a Queens birthday party so there were a few folk around that were a bit worse for wear. Maybe it was me being tired after walking, I don’t know. I was just disappointed.


After checking in, I grabbed a pint from the bar, went to my room, divested myself of wet clothes and shoes, made a coffee and then plopped myself on the bed with beer, coffee and free biscuits. I didn’t move for a while. It rained. Heavily. This is the second time it absolutely poured down minutes after I had arrived somewhere. I was so lucky while I walked, while I got damp a few times I was never utterly soaked, though I had prepared for that with my packing.


After a shower I discovered the towel rail was on, and very hot. Perfect. Towels off – shoes on. Dry shoes for tomorrow, an unexpected bonus, especially as my flip flops fell apart when I went for my walk.


I wanted food but was too late for lunch and too early for dinner, so I went for a walk down to the waterfront to look around the village and hopefully find some food. There was no food, but I did take some photos.




Clovelly is mostly a traditional white and grey Devon fishing village, but there is always one that has to stand out.


I took a photo back to where I started this morning, hidden in the low cloud.


Back in the Inn I had another pint before heading down to the bar the minute it opened for food. I had dinner with two other guys solo walking the path. Both of a similar age to me. It must be a thing, I guess if you cannot afford a Ferrari and hate golf then walking long distances has to be up there in the list of mid-life crisis things to do. It was an enjoyable, though early evening as we were all knackered.

I met the same guys over breakfast, where we all seemed a little more chipper. I was feeling OK Monday morning, the legs were tired but the walk up the cliff and out of Clovelly was not too bad and I knew I could have carried on if I had the time.


I caught two busses from Clovelly back to Barnstable Station, maybe the last time I will be catching a train back to London from here. Hopefully my next walks will get me further down the coast where another station will be closer.


The walk took me 6 hours, quite a lot more than guide book suggested. It was harder than I expected, though I knew it was going to be tough, a lot harder than the preceding days that is for sure. The next two legs are supposed to be the toughest on the entire path, so I plan to be ready for those when I come back. Sooner rather than later.

I loved my time on the path, three days was long enough, but not long enough too.

SWCP Walk Part 2, Day 2. Westleigh to Westward Ho!

Saturday 11 June 2016 -Westward Ho!, Devon.

I left the B and B in Westleigh at 9:30, after waiting for the rain to stop, and to let the monster breakfast go down, fuel for the day. My legs felt good after yesterday’s walk, which pleased me. I haven’t done a lot of walking; or much else this year, and had anticipated seizing up after a day on the road. I felt better than I had in weeks. Fresh air makes so much difference to how I feel.

I joined the SWCP and Tarka Trail where I left it yesterday, by the side of the River Torridge just outside Instow. The path follows the river all the way to Bideford passing under another huge road bridge. This one with added mermaid.


There were a few more old and rotting boats just outside Bideford. I think I could do an entire post on old boats. Which might be something to explore if I ever come down this way for a length of time, I am sure they have a history. Even if it is not that interesting at all.


At the defunct Bideford Station I said goodbye to the Tarka Trail as the coast path heads across the river and into Bideford. I will not say it was sad to say goodbye, we had fun while it lasted, but our time was up, I need some hills, mud and the smell of the sea.



I stopped for coffee and  a brief rest before heading off again, I was trying to maintain a reasonable pace today as rain was forecast for late afternoon and though I was prepared for it, it did seem silly to get wet if it could be avoided. Now we were not joined with the old railway line that is the Tarka, the coast path was allowed to amber up and down small hills, through woods and fields and get all muddy – and a lot more fun.


At the top of the hill there was a nice view across the Torridge to where I started this morning in Westleigh.


This boat has definitely seen better days…


Though it looks like this old tug (is it a tug?) has someone living on board and is being renovated.


The path takes an inland route for a while to bypass a large dock site. I have heard that our councils have all been struggling with massively reduced budgets in these times of austerity, and it was obvious in this section of North Devon, an area particularly struggling that clearing paths was not on any sort of priority spending list.

I walk in shorts, I have not really been a long trouser walker, maybe if it gets cold I will put leggings on, I have always wondered why so many walkers in Britain walk in long trousers. Today I found out why. The nettles through here were pretty bad, I got stung on the stomach – through my shirt. Picking my way through to avoid the worst of the stingers slowed me right done, and meant I spent a lot of time looking at the ground.


I soon arrived in the lovely little village of Appledore, there were a number of pubs and cafes as I entered, and though it was lunch time I thought I would walk through town and find somewhere on the other side.IMG_4244


Which was sort of a mistake as there wasn’t anything on the other side to stop at. Eat when you can is my new motto. I liked Appledore. Especially this narrow cottage!




Popping out the other side of the village I could see Westward Ho!, my destination for the night just up the road, however I had to walk around the Northam Burrows Country Park first, an extra couple of miles I suspect. Not that I was complaining at all, the sun popped out for a while so I took a break, shoes off, muesli bar snack and some water and I enjoyed lying on the grass looking back at Instow for a while. I haven’t done that in ages.


Once the sun disappeared I took a glance towards Westward Ho! and saw that the threatened rain was looking to be a reality, so it was shoes and pack back on again and I dragged myself reluctantly back on to the path.


The Burrows is an area of significant scientific interest for its mix of salt marsh, grassy plain and pebble lined beach. It was an interesting place to stroll and if it wasn’t for those very dark clouds I would have taken a bit more time to explore.


The Burrows also contains the course of the Royal North Devon Golf Club, the oldest links club in England. What makes this course special to me is that there are horses on it. Grazing right next to a tee… Lovely !


At the tip of the park, after approximately eight hours of walking the South West Coast Path I finally hit the actual coast. Yay! It was great to hear waves hitting the beach, I really miss that sound.

The walk to town was made at a cracking pace, hoping to get there before the rain arrived on me, I could see it was pouring down in town, so I am not sure why I was rushing into it! What a great beach.


I was pretty lucky, I just caught the end of the shower, and though I had to put a coat and bag cover on I didn’t get too wet. By the time I had found a coffee shop to sit in the sun had come out again and it was a pleasant half an hour spent drinking coffee, a banana milkshake and noshing on a piece of cake. I stopped to take a photo of Lundy Island before heading up the hill to my room for the night. Why,oh why are they always at the top of the hill !!


I was staying in an Air B and B for the first time. I had found it really hard to get accommodation for this trip, I guess I left it a bit late and it is supposedly summer. So many places were booked out on the usual web sites I use to find places. I really enjoyed the Air B n B though. The walk up the hill was well worth it for the view. These clouds – Yum!!!



In an effort to avoid a constant stream of fish/burger and chips meals I went to a Thai restaurant back in town for dinner before heading back up the hill with heavy legs and a full stomach to watch England play Russia in England’s opening game of Euro 16. England were ‘disappointing’. As usual. To make it worse the England and Russian fans were a disgrace, which made for unpleasant news reading after the game.

This was partly made up for by that great view from the room, over the mouth of the Torridge and up the coast to where I walked last year.


It was another good day’s walking, a bit longer than yesterday, a few more lumps to walk over compared to all that flat walking previously. Tomorrow there will be more than a few lumps to cover, back to the coast path proper – I really cannot wait.

SWCP Walk Part 2, Day 1. Chivenor to Westleigh.

Friday 10 June 2016 – Westleigh, Devon.

I surprised myself by having a decent sleep in what was the probably the smallest single room I have ever had in a B and B, not that I need a lot of space. A good breakfast was had and I was out the door at 9:00, on a bus soon after and standing at the starting point of three days of walking before 9:30. Yeeha – it has finally arrived.

I am starting the South West Coast Path (SWCP) where I finished last July – at a bus stop!


To be perfectly honest it was not the same bus stop. I was going to start in Braunton, but the path crossed the road next to a bus stop in Chivendor and it just seemed like a good place to start, so start there I did.


I have three days of walking planned, the first two days will take me around the Rivers Taw and Torridge, and I won’t see the coast until the end of day two. The total distance over those two days is about 24 miles. I could probably walk the whole thing in a day, but it would have been a long day and to be honest I am not road fit at the moment and have been suffering from tight legs for weeks. There was no point in taking risks, and anyway I want to be feeling good for day three, a nice hilly walk from Westward Ho! To Clovelly, all on the coast.

Today’s walk is along a section of the SWCP that has merged with the Tarka Trail. The Tarka trail is named after the book ‘Tarka the Otter’, which was published in 1927, and describes the life of an otter living in the rivers Taw and Torridge. The section of the Tarka that I follow over the next day and half is about half tar-seal and half crushed stone. Not the ideal surface for walking with sore legs, but there were areas where I could walk on the grass verge. While not being wild and coastal, it is quite pretty in sections.




In a few hours time I will be walking along that stretch of shore on the other side of the Taw as well…


The path heads back to Barnstable, where I stayed last night and also where I stayed after finishing walking last summer. Rather than walk all the back into town I crossed over the new road bridge for the better view – and it was a bit shorter.



There was a path up to the bridge on the side I started on but none back down on the far side. Rather than walk all the way up to the busy road and then back again, I jumped the fence and cut through the scrub. It seemed to be a popular route, but does not explain why there was not proper access.


Once out of Barnstable there was a long walk along side of some salt marshes, with dozens of little water ways and channels it was something interesting to look at. I expect if I ever came this way again it would all look totally different.



On the other side of the path was farm land.


I arrived at Fremington Quay after a couple of hours of walking and stopped for coffee and cake in the cafe. It was good to sit down. One thing I am not particular good at on my walks is sitting down and resting. I do stop a lot to take photos, but rarely take the time to rest properly, or just enjoy a view or a cup of coffee. I need to practice that more. In truth I need to practice that more all the time, not just while I am walking


As I was packing up my stuff to leave I had a phone call from my son in Australia, Dom. Though the news was not all good, it was great to chat with him for a while as I continued walking. The best thing about the conversation is that it took my thoughts away from work. I had spent the first couple of hours of my walk thinking about it, getting progressively angrier and angrier with myself for wasting my holiday and head space time focusing on the very thing I was trying to get away from. It did not enter my mind again.


I really enjoyed the walk from Fremington to Instow, in parts it was quite post-apocalyptic, old jetties and ruined boats, an old electricity sub-station and rusty relics from the railway. I was alone for a while and it felt like I was the last human alive. I was waiting for ‘walkers’ to find me.





As I was taking photos of the SS Boop, a woman walking her dog ambled by, and I realised the world had not ended in the previous couple of hours.




I stopped for lunch in Instow, it was nice, but pricey. I had earned my lunch and its accompanying pint over the morning, though I did not have much more walking to do. The renovated station house at Instow was a nicer reminder of the the old railway.


Instow is at the confluence of the Rivers Taw and Torridge, I could just see the coast in the distance, past Appledore on the far side. After following the Taw all morning, I was now following the Torridge and will do for most of tomorrow as well.


I was still on the SWCP and the Tarka trail as I headed out of Instow towards Bideford. This part of Devon is famous for its old lime kilns, there are hundreds of old kiln sites up and down the coast and on the edge of some of the estuaries. They were used to make quick-lime from lime stone in the region. There are a few ruins left here and there and I will pass a few of them over the couple of days.


I had booked a B and B in the small village of Westleigh, just south and slightly inland from Instow. As I was walking along the path I could see the road up to the village on the far side of a narrow swampy stream. I had visions of having to walk way way down the path to find a way across the swamp, but fortunately not too far ahead there was a pathway across. Phew.


There was another old fishing boat just up the river so I carried on going so I could take a look at it today, in case it was raining tomorrow. I was talking to a couple of men collecting sea weed from the rocks nearby and they told me the boat just appeared one day six months ago. They had no idea what it is doing there or how long it will remain. A further sign of a stricken fishing industry.



Naturally my B and B was right at the top of the longest hill of the day, it was a farmhouse on the other side of the village to the path I was walking. I have never stayed in a B and B with pillars out the front before.


Last night I stayed in the smallest room ever, and tonight I stayed in the largest. It was also very comfortable. I have been really fortunate with the weather so far, just after I arrived it poured with rain, lying on my bed in my room, I just did not care !


After the rain had passed I walked into the pub in Westleigh for dinner and the hope of being able to watch the opening game of Euro 16, however they did not have a TV in the pub. After eating I took a bottle of beer back to my room and watched the game on my own, it was pretty dire. 

I really enjoyed today, once work had left my head and I had the space to think – and literally stop to smell the flowers it was a very relaxing day. My legs feel good after five or so hours of walking and it was just damn good to be outside again!