Friday, 28 April 2017

Clovelly to Peppercombe (South West Coast Path 89)

The entrance to the Hobby Drive

The village of Clovelly is located down a steep cobbled hill from the edge-of-the-village car park.  The Coast Path passes by the car park and visitor centre and above the village – unless you make the detour you don't see it. For this reason, I have done a separate post about the village.

The route eastwards from Clovelly is initially the Hobby Drive. This was built between 1811 and 1829  for Sir James Hamlyn Williams, the lord of the manor, and terminates at Hobby Lodge which presumably explains its name. We had otherwise been wondering what Sir James's hobbies were.

The Hobby Drive follows the wooded contours above the sea as they wind in and out for three miles. The road is made of scalpings and so the surface is a bit rough. It is however almost on a level. After a while there are some white benches by the side of the Drive which offer a nice view down to Clovelly's tiny harbour.

A bit further on a memorial bench commemorates an extension of 833 yards to the Drive by Frederick and Christine Hamlyn in 1901.

And later there is finally a clear view of Bideford Bay. Westward Ho! and Saunton Sands can be seen on the horizon.

At length, and it did seem to go on and on, we took a left turn to emerge onto a field edge path above Barton Wood - it could be in Hampshire. Then into a beautiful section of beech woods with a wonderful carpet of bluebells. The lime green leaves and deep blue flowers made a great contrast.

After another section of field, there is a further section of beech, these leaning dramatically over the path in a dramatic sculptural way, not yet in leaf.

We continued along the high cliff into Bucks Woods and made the quite steep descent to Bucks Mills

This inevitably led to a steep climb through Worthygate Woods and then along just above it. This offered another, closer, view of Bridport Bay.

Shortly we found a bench and paused to enjoy the view back towards Clovelly and Blackchurch Rock beyond it.

Now we entered the unusually named Sloo Wood. This was a very pretty area, dominated by Sessile Oaks and having a much greater variety of wildflowers than we had seen previously: lots of bluebells, but also Primrose, Wild Garlic, Lesser Celandine, Primrose, Greater Stitchwort, Red Campion.

Here are some of the Sessile Oaks which were predominant in this area.

And here is the characteristic lichen that often covers them.

We emerged above Peppercombe Beach (a bit of a misnomer, as it appears to be gravel) with a nice view eastwards including a bright splash of red sandstone, last seen in South Devon between Buddleigh Salterton and Exmouth.

This section ended at the path which leads to beach in one direction and Horns Cross in the other. It was marked by a splendid copper beach.

It only remained for us to walk the mile up to the main road at Horns Cross.

Conditions: cloudy, but bright.

Distance: 5.6 miles.

Rating: Strenuous.

Map: Explorer 126 (Clovelly & Hartland).

Rating: three and a half stars.

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