Sunday, 21 May 2017

Woolacombe to Ilfracombe (South West Coast Path 97)

Woolacombe Beach

The tide is out at Woolacombe and it's a bit cloudy, but plenty of people are having fun in the sea and on the enormous beach. We head along the grassy strip to the north of the beach and soon reach a remarkably sheltered little cove which goes by the strange name of Grunta Beach.

After this, the coast is quite rocky towards the next key landmark, Morte Point.

The path heads inland for a while and we climb a hill towards Mortehoe, walking along the road. After a steep climb we turn left to follow the path through a grassy headland towards Morte Point.

We round the rocky point and soon a new vista lays before us to Bull Point with its lighthouse.

This is a very attractive section and we make good progress, descending sharply towards Rockham Bay. We pass inland of Bull Point, which is less interesting up close than from a distance, and the coast stretches out ahead towards Ilfracombe.

We are briefly tempted to think that this will be a brisk cliff top walk when there is a sudden and dramatic descent/ascent at Damagehue Rock.

Soon after there is another at Pensport Rock.

 After this, the coast stretches out towards Lee.

Lee turns out to consist of a small cove with a not very attractive beach and a defunct hotel. However, there is an excellent café where we enjoy welcome refreshments and take a short restorative break from walking. 

 Leaving the café we follow a pleasant small road well inland from the sea which climbs steadily for a mile from sea level to 140m above sea. This is the view back. On the horizon is the coast of South Wales, around Milford Haven.

 This gives way to a couple of large fields covered with buttercups and cows. As we approach Ilfracombe, there is an excellent moment as we see our first Painted Lady of the year. Sadly, it didn't wait around long to be photographed. Soon afterwards, an entertaining, slightly grumpy, rusty sign catches our eye

Soon after this there is a moment of great excitement: the first Painted Lady of the year. It just won't wait long enough to be photographed. We pass between two grassy hills

And then we follow the twisting Torrs Path laid out the 19th century to emerge at the edge of the town and follow the road down to just behind the Landmark Theatre where we have a fine view of Capstone Point.

As we follow the path around the Point, there is a nice view of Ilfracombe with the Landmark Theatre on the right.

Once we have fully rounded it, we can see our next challenge, Hillsborough. The harbour, where we ended today's walk, can be glimpsed on the right.

Ilfracombe is an interesting place and I have done a separate post about it.

Conditions: Warm and sunny.

Distance: 7.8 miles.

Map: Explorer 139 (Bideford, Ilfracombe & Barnstaple).

Grading: Strenuous becoming Moderate.

Rating: four and a half stars.

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