Walk #361: Saunton to Ilfracombe
Map of the walk
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format. For a detailed table of timings for this walk, please see the table file.
I really found it hard to believe that this was a sixteen-mile walk, as I felt like it was much shorter than this. I got to Woolacombe in double-quick time, and I was surprised to find that this stretch of the walk was around eight miles long. I measured the map after the walk and came up with the same value as quoted in the South West Coast Path guidebook, so I assume that it must be more or less correct.
The walk along the beach at Woolacombe was very nice, and I played a few little games with myself as I strode along the two miles of beach. I enjoy looking behind me as I walk and see how straight my track through sand is; it is amazing hoe much you go from side to side as you walk along what you think is a straight line on a beach. I met Sam in Woolacombe, and I ate my sandwiches in the van, and this was nice as it got me out of the wind. It is really nice that there are enough daylight hours for me to take a long lunch break, and it is also very enjoyable meeting Sam at lunchtime. This situation is only going to get better from now on as I go further up the country and the days get increasingly longer. I daresay that when I got nineteen hours of daylight when I am in the north of Scotland I will wish that there was less daylight!
As I was walking from Woolacome to Morte Point I passed a man who was singing what I can only assume was some form of opera. He had a young child walking beside him and he was belting out the songs as he walked. This was quite strange, but I cannot really complain, as he did not have a bad voice, at least as my untrained ear could tell. It was quite a strange little situation, as I sometimes hear people singing as I walk (and indeed I often sing myself), but rarely do I hear someone with such a fine, strong, voice.
I got to Ilfracombe fairly early and was tempted to continue on as far as Combe Martin, another five miles further on, but decided that it would be too long a day. Instead I went with Sam into a little Internet place in the town and spent a pleasant hour answering emails and chatting to Terry on Mono, a bulletin board that I have been a member of for over ten years. As I was doing this I started to have severe Internet withdrawal symptoms, and I really wish that I could have a full Internet connection in the van. One of the annoying things about this walk is that if I had left it another year or two before doing this walk then the new 3G GPRS phones that are being released this year would have been usable on a trip like this. Instead I have to rely on finding libraries or Internet Cafes as often as possible.
Sam arranged for me to have another radio interview with BBC Radio Devon tonight, and so we waited to record the interview at six twenty in the evening. This turned out to be a reasonable interview, and it was a nice way to end the section of the trip through Devon - the day after tomorrow I shall be saying goodbye to this lovely county and into Somerset. I am still quite nervous about radio interviews, but I am finding them easier as I do more of them.
Tonight I phoned Graham Harbord, a gent who is walking the other way around, an we chatted for over half an hour about the walk. It is great to talk to someone who is doing the same thing as me, and we covered lots of topics, including the obligatory topic for long distance walkers, how we measure the distance walked. It sounds like he is getting on quite well, and he is currently in Filey - a long way from where we met in Brighton!
Tomorrow I have decided to try and do a strenuous walk, and I have hills like the Great Hangman (the highest point on the entire South West Coast Path) to climb. Fortunately the scenery should compensate for this, as I shall also be passing through areas such as the Valley of Rocks.
This makes a total distance of 16.0 miles, with 3589 feet of ascent and 3632 feet of descent.
We parked at a car park beside the tourist information office in Ilfracombe, which was a reasonably nice and quiet place to park. We were stuck right underneath a large cliff, yet we had perfect mobile and reasonable television reception. I am unsure about whether we can park here overnight and sleep in the van (and indeed I doubt we can), but I have not seen a sign forbidding it.
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
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