My first photo trip of the year to North Devon produced some glorious weather for the 10 days I was there – didn’t see any rain but most days with a fresh breeze. Ideal for coastal walking. First base was not far from Woolacombe so I could cover most of my planned locations without too much additional driving but plenty of walking.
I started with a walk over to Lee Bay and around the coast to Bull Point, Rockham Bay and finally Morte Point. My starting point was the small hilltop village of Mortehoe located high above the rocky headland of Morte Point. The aftermath of the Winter storms was still plain to see in the first section of the walk with one path turned into a quagmire but I succeeded in reaching the wonderful Lee Bay without a major diversion. Lee and its bay were very much regarded in past times as a romantic “smugglers’ village. Because of the steep gradients all around it was very difficult to reach by road and was largely accessed from the sea.
I expected Rockham Bay to be another accessible bay but unfortunately, the beach was closed and has been since January after “hundreds of tonnes” of the cliff collapsed which resulted in access to the 100 steps down to the beach becoming virally cut off. Disappointing but at least it saved my legs for the next section of the walk and I still got a great view of the bay from further along the coast.
After the first day’s strenuous efforts on the coast path I decided that my next walk would feature a totally different landscape and mostly on the level. I started in Braunton heading out onto the Burrows, the largest sand dune system in England, via Velator Quay, Horsey Island to Crow Point and back along the “American Road” but more of that later. The opening section of the walk didn’t produce many photo opportunities although I did manage one or two “Intimate Landscapes” for the collection, some of which still require titles if you have any suggestions. The highlight was the area around Broad Sands and Crow Point, a dramatic and remote place which is located on the corner of Saunton Sands and the Taw estuary in the Braunton Burrows Biosphere Reserve.
Don’t ask me the meaning of the “knife, fork and spoon” on the flag but there were a couple of amusing connections to it in the area including a beached small boat that was storing a picnic table/bench and a mock campsite which included a ready-made campfire, improvised seat and an old stereo speaker cabinet. Very strange – I can also assume that someone with a sense of humour visits this location for picnics or even camps there although I understand it can be cut off by the incoming tide. Also in the locality is a wonderfully coloured boat wreck whose name as yet I have been unable to find. If anyone knows please get in touch as I always like to know the background of anything featured in my images.
I walked back inland via the Burrows using the “American Road”. Built by the US Army in 1943 it was the main access road to the assault training centre and runs to Broad Sands. Whilst I knew that the area is still used today for military exercises I was expecting some warning if it was in use. That wasn’t the case as on rounding a bend at the start of the road I was surprised to find a number of soldiers fully kitted out with combat gear, rifles and camouflaged faces. Pairs either side of the road and another a little further on watch for any possible threat as the rest crossed the road under the careful eye of their senior officers. I was not sure what to do and not knowing what the implications may be if I just carried on walking I stopped to allow them to complete the crossing expecting some sort of signal to say I could pass. It never came and still, the soldiers crossed. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to carefully walk through and was acknowledged as if nothing had happened by the officers. By the way, I had noticed that the rifles had protectors so could not be fired.
The next day was a walk over to Woolacombe Sand and back via Baggy Point and Putsborough Sand. Glorious views across the bay including the eye-catching cloud formation below but “hard work” through the dunes. On the return, I decided to walk the length of the sands just to make it somewhat easier and also more enjoyable.
For my final day in the area, I decided to go back to a location I visited a couple of years back on the coast of Exmoor National Park. I didn’t have much luck with the camera first time hence my reason for the revisit. The area I was particularly interested in was Valley of the Rocks where I parked up and walked along the coast to Lynmouth and then back. Getting to Lynmouth was the easy bit – all downhill but for those of you who know the area getting back was a whole different story at least until I was back on the main coastal path.
When I first started this post it was my intention to include the whole of my trip but I seem to have “rambled on” longer than I anticipated so a last minute decision has been made to split the review into two sections. So look out soon for the second part of the trip around the Hartland Peninsula.