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Thursday, 3 March 2016

Walk 170 Hartland Quay to Clovelly (Devon)

Walk 170 Hartland Quay to Clovelly (Devon)

(Third leg of English coastal walk – Lands End to Bristol)

Map: L/R 190
Distance: 12 miles or 18km approx
Difficulty: Demanding, allow plenty of time – lots of ups and downs and some are very steep.
Terrain: Coastal cliff path
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: Not practical to get to Hartland Quay using public transport. Clovelly is served by a bus service from Bideford a few times a day check with Traveline.

Another murky morning for me, so no photo opportunities not until past Hartland Point. This stretch is known as the 'wrecking coast' for obvious reasons. The walk out of Hartland Quay starts off easily enough but soon becomes challenging. Alongside the path at The Warren is an old ruin of a tower which is reportedly a 16th century folly - possibly used as a warrener's house (person in charge of a rabbit warren).

Follow the path around to Dyer's Lookout and across the Abbey River (named after the 12th century Hartland Abbey half a mile or so inland). Continue past the small rocky cove of Blackpool (no bright lights here) and along Upright Cliff, where this a waterfall, then on to Hartland Point. This 325 ft high headland was called 'Promontory of Hercules' by Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer and geographer. It was windy when I went, the waves were big and crashing in - I do not recommend going here in bad weather. The now automated lighthouse on rocks at the tip of the point was built in 1874 and has a strong beam.

The path now goes eastwards past Barley Bay. The strange looking object that looks a bit like a scoop of ice cream on top of a stick of rock is a radar tower. Further round near Titchberry is Shipload Bay. The name may refer to the smuggling that went on here – access to the beach looks very difficult.

A few miles further on is Beckland Bay. Look out for the memorial which marks the point where a Wellington bomber crashed in World War 2 with loss of all crew. The walk passes through woodland before reaching Clovelly.

Be sure you have your credit card or cash with you as entrance to the village (at least during the day) is via the visitors' centre at the top of the hill. I found the descent on the cobbles quite painful on the knees after a long walk. Fortunately there is a pleasant pub called The New Inn half way down for recharging the body. I saw several people pulling luggage down the cobbles on home made sledges. No cars are allowed in most parts of the village although a Land Rover service operates from the visitor centre down to the Red Lion on the quayside.

Clovelly was a small fishing village until the Victorians 'discovered' it. It is still overwhelmed with visitors and the entrance money goes towards maintaining the old buildings etc. From the top the harbour is a most impressive sight.

Photos show: typical view of headland and cliffs on this walk; transport over the cobbles in Clovelly; Clovelly, a view of the harbour from the top of the village.

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