A life less complicated

Having reached a crossroads in my life I am choosing to step off the treadmill that is my busy life and take time out to travel.  On October 5th 2017 I set off with my Springer Poppy in our motorhome (subsequently swapped for a caravan) ‘freedombird’ initially to explore the remote beauty of the UK and then – well let’s see……

Back to the desert – ok then Saunton Sands……

Another damp start to the day and poor visibility pretty much throughout but undeterred we revisited Saunton Sands, partly to see if the car park was now free (it was!) and partly because it is just so beautiful and quiet.

To get to the beach we wondered through Braunton Burrows, having first checked with the lone soldier in the car park that it was safe to do so! This area is such doggy heaven, just miles and miles of partially covered dunes, criss crossed with pathways, both human and animal and for me wide tracks made in the firm sand by military vehicles, makes for easy walking.

See the beauty of the wild grasses creating structure against the sky.

Once on the beach, we walked away from Saunton itself and soon had the massive expanse of beach to ourselves.

And even the sun tried to break through and join us!

This beach is going to take some beating.

Two thoughts of the day:

Very randomly this sign had been positioned part way along the beach, but had been collected on our return at about 4.30 – any ideas?

Why does it take 16 hours to recharge an electric toothbrush?

Route 27 to Ilfracombe….

Started damp and mizzly but dried up by mid morning so didn’t put us off our stride.

For a change, I thought we would give the beach a miss today and so we parked up at a tiny little (free) car park at Lee Cross and followed Route 27 (National Cycle route from Ilfracombe to Plymouth mostly using disused railway lines) through mostly wooded countryside, up above the Upper and Lower Slade reservoirs to Ilfracombe.

We didn’t see any cyclists, just other dog walkers or families out for an afternoon stroll, so after reassurance from another dog walker, Poppydog got to off road!

We passed under bridges and through quite a long tunnel.

Enjoying little signs of Spring on the way.

As we approached Ilfracombe we had a good birds eye view of the town winding down the valley to the sea.

From the end (or start) of the trail we had a good view over the town and in the distance a beacon marking the entry to Ilfracombe harbour could just be seen.

We didn’t go down into the town, as we shall visit the seafront there another day, but turned back at the incredibly ornate marker point on Route 27 – which incidentally could be misread to indicate that Swansea is only a mile away!

On the return journey we stopped awhile and watched the mist swirling down the valley over the Lower reservoir bringing with it an eerie quiet, excepting the vibrant birdsong.

And spotted a pretty little waterfall that we hadn’t noticed earlier.

All in all a very enjoyable afternoon!

Two thoughts of the day:

It is thanks to Mr OS (Ordnance Survey App for which I paid just £19.99 for an annual subscription giving me access to maps on my phone for anywhere in the UK) that I am able to discover these little hidden gems!

Haha just worked out how to switch the sound system on – so we can now have music whilst we work!

Woolacombe again – well why not?…..

Not quite such a nice day today, but still dry with good splashes of sunlight, so I for one am not complaining! I actually got on with creating a spreadsheet to enter all my expenses into, today, though not quite complete, it is taking shape nicely. This has been on my to do list since we set sail in October, so long over due! The most pleasing thing is that I appear to be running under budget, not massively but enough – whopee! As a treat we headed back to Woolacombe for a walk and play in the sand.

The beach was much busier today (I thought it would be the opposite with many half-termers on their way home!) but without being too greedy still plenty of space for all.

From the hill behind the beach there was a group of paragliders launching from the top and landing in the dunes behind the beach – looked like perfect conditions for them, catching thermals above the hill, keeping them up in the air for quite a time. Their views must have been amazing.

Back on the beach however, Poppydog disgraced herself by stealing a families football and popping it! Fortunately, it wasn’t a young family, so no tears or wailing and I would have offered to pay for it, but the woman was so whingy and whiny that I changed my mind! But we did scoot along fairly quickly, because we needed to go to Tesco’s, I’ll have you know!

Our parting shot was of these lovely silver clouds just peaking over the top of Baggy Point.

Two thoughts of the day:

How can I stop Poppydog’s obsession with footballs? I don’t know where it has come from, but she can hear a football being bounced from about half a mile away!

I have decided to read a little less each day and be more productive instead – at what I’m not totally sure but will let you know!

Another great beach – Woolacombe Sands……..

A light frost, but the day dawned bright and sunny and pretty much stayed that way all day – oh yes! Not quite flip flop weather, but in the sun the day warmed up nicely, so off we went to Woolacombe.

Luckily the Marine Drive car park is still closed, in that it is not manned, so free of charge- ideal. The car park runs along the dunes at the back of the beach. Am liking this set up with a trail running through the dunes, providing a brilliant dog exercising area and pleasant walk before getting into the beach proper.

The beach is breathtaking and again so long – running straight into Putsborough Sand and with the tide out – so much sand!

Quite a few people about, but not a bother on a beach this size – the sand is all compact so easy to walk on and we had such a lovely afternoon playing in the sun.

Can we really carry on discovering such beautiful beaches?

Two thoughts of the day:

No second thoughts on swapping the motorhome for a caravan – we have already seen and enjoyed so much that would have not been possible in Birdie.

My wellies have sprung a leak! Why oh why can I not find a pair of wellies that last!

Putsborough Sand in the sun…..

Hooray it has stopped raining and after a greyish start that could have gone either way, the sun came out! We parked up at Croyde, curtesy of the NT again, and walked up and over the headland that leads to Baggy Point. The footpath was pretty boggy until we got up on to the top and the surrounding fields filled with sheep and their lambs, bleeting and gambolling in the sunshine.

Up on the top there was a fantastic view of Putsborough Sand leading on to Woolacombe Sand and to Woolacombe beyond.

Poppydog is definitely turning into a beach babe, getting oh so excited (and incidentally totally uncontrollable swinging about on the end of her lead) when she can see, smell or hear the sea! So I was practically dragged down onto the beach.

The car park here is a bit of an upmarket affair, similar in layout and location to the site at Tintagel but at £5 a day, I’d want to be staying overnight (though this would set you back £25!), so I’m glad we left the car in Croyde and walked!

The beach was mostly sandy and compacted, so great for playing fetch, as the ball bounces well, which sends Poppydog into a frenzy if instead of catching it on the bounce she heads it off in a different direction!

The beach was quite busy, being half term, so we shall look forward to walking along to Woolacombe another day, but for today contented ourselves with playing in and around the rocks on the left hand side of the beach, which we had to ourselves

The stones here are pretty shades of lilac and aquamarine – I wonder why the sand isn’t too?

Afterwards, we walked back to Croyde along the lane, which was fortunately very quiet and clear of mud! Popping in for a quick look at Croyde Sand, though the incoming tide and covered much of it.

The gradually setting sun adding to the beauty of the rough seas.

And how is this for a view through a gateway – imagine what must be enjoyed by the house?

Two thoughts of the day:

Hot Chocolate on the beach – divine!

The warmth in the sun is such a promising sign – flip flops here we come!

Croyde Sand in the rain….

What a horrible day – it rained, mostly to hard to be referred to as mizzle, all day! We toyed with the idea of just wandering around the site, but then I figured we were going to get wet anyway, so we might as well make it count. So off we went to explore Croyde Sand.

Nowhere near on the scale of Saunton Sands but still a nice sandy cove backed with marram grass covered dunes. It is a very popular surf beach but today there were just 2 hardy soles braving what in my inexpert view appeared to be very ‘messy’ surf. Still quite a few people walking along the beach in the rain – I guess the same as me having gone stir crazy being inside all day!

Poppydog enjoyed her run about – funnily enough totally missed a rabbit running along the beach and disappearing into the dunes – too focused on our game!

An area of the dunes is being restored after damage sustained during the storms during January and February 2014 and they are using recycled Christmas trees to protect the new planting – what a fab bit of recycling?

We will be back on a nicer day, but for now, time to go home and dry out!

Two thoughts of the day:

When is this rain going to stop?

I think I fancy fish and chips one of these evenings – it has been a while.

Saunton Sands a desert in Devon – who knew?…..

Very wet through the night and quite windy judging by the sound of the trees but not bothering us here in the valley. Persuaded Poppydog to stay settled until just before 8 when the rain finally stopped!

Later we parked up and took a long walk down part of the Tarka Trail that borders Braunton Burrows (the natural inland dunes behind the beach, which is part nature reserve and used by the military occasionally as a training site) before crossing the Burrows to join the beach just before Crow Point which is the furthest point of Saunton Sands. The dunes are a wonderful mix of browns and greens, full of animal trails and scents – absolute heaven for Poppydog!

The beach is just vast and almost deserted – our favourite kind!

We walked to the Beacon at Crow Point and looked across at the matching beacons in Instow across the inlet of the rivers Taw and Torridge.

From Crow Point we walked back along the beach towards Saunton and at times with the stiff wind that was blowing up the beach, not another sole in site and the dunes on our right, it felt like we were crossing a desert! OK so the sea was to our left all the while but just look…

Now I am no horsewoman (having had a bad fall many years ago and being terrified ever since) but this has got to be amazing!

Still we battled on against the wind – we’ve been on the beach for a good hour or so and Poppydog is still hassling me to keep on throwing a ball – why can’t she just enjoy the scenery?

And still the beach goes on! It keeps on giving as well- amazing what you find stuck in the sand..

This is a 3.5 mile stretch of sand (felt like 6 in the wind!) and we (I) didn’t have the energy to make it to the end (we will be back) so we cut back through Braunton Burrows to where the car was parked – still an 8 mile round trip – whew!

Two thoughts of the day:

Perfect walk today for Poppydog today – all of lead – she is now out for the count!

So am I!!!

Baggy Point and some dramatic skies……

Some frozen hail on the ground again this chilly morning and thanks to Poppydog we were up and out before the sun made it into the valley- 7.20 to be precise!

Later on we parked up in a NT car park (another £4 saved!) at Croyde and took the coastal path towards Baggy Point, looking back at the beautiful beach at Croyde and Saunton Sands beyond.

Passing the bones of a Whale that washed up on the beach in 1915!

And the stunning views across to Lundy Island – the clouds offering some real drama to the seascapes.

As we got close to Baggy Point, just off the Point, to sea a real storm was evident and how beautiful? I was pretty sure it was coming our way but – hey ho – we’ve come this far!

We pressed on around the point, passing the Old Coastguard Wreck Post, making a dramatic stand against the darkening sea, with Lundy Island just visible beyond.

Around the headland the first glimpses of Woolacombe and Putsborough Sand under more dramatic storm clouds.

We followed the path as it cut inland before Putsborough, unfortunately this route took us across farmland which became increasingly boggy and muddy underfoot, so much so that I decided that we would turn and go back the way we came. All was well until we got back to Baggy Point and then the heavens opened and we were well and truly caught in a hail squall! – ouch! To say our walk back was refreshing on so many levels is putting a very positive spin on being soaked and frozen!

Still four fabulous beaches to explore, so close by – excited!

Two thoughts of the day:

Hail in your face hurts!

I think we are going to enjoy this little chunk of Devon!

Farewell Cornwall and Hello Devon……

Well we had to do it sometime! The good thing is there is still so much more of Cornwall still to explore we are just going to have to pace ourselves!

We left Budemeadow site, having thoroughly enjoyed the surrounding area and I think you will agree, some fantastic beaches for pastures new. I’m afraid (and grateful) to have had assistance in hitching up before heading off, though we didn’t get far as I realised I hadn’t put the extended wing mirrors on the car! Once underway the journey was fine, I was aware of the strong wind blowing but not to the degree of giving me any cause for anxiety, so we waved goodbye to our beloved Cornwall (for a while) and said a happy hello to Devon.

We arrived at Hidden Valley Caravan Park, just outside Braunton in North Devon (a whopping 44 miles) in good time and in the sunshine! Managed unhitching and parking up without any assistance (a first!) and we soon made camp and were enjoying our first cup of tea in Devon still in the sunshine – oh yes!

The site is quite big, all terraced within a valley (pretty rubbish TV reception) surrounded by woodland with quite a few other caravans and motorhomes around. A stream runs through the middle of the site, which I’m sure is great fun for any kids staying, feeding into a small lake in the centre of the park, by the Restaurant/ Bar.

We tried the site woodland walk, but it was very muddy and slippery so we contented ourselves with a good walk around the site roads which probably cover at least a mile or so before hunkering down with a well earned glass of wine.

Two thoughts of the day:

Add ‘wing mirrors’ to check list!

WiFi is mega expensive here – £4 a day – not happening!

Well the heavens wept all day…….

What can I say, our last full day in Cornwall for a while and it has rained all day! For a time this afternoon it reduced to a mizzle so we took a quick last trip to Bude beach.

There were a few other hardy soles out and about (all with dogs!) and clearly a few families determined to enjoy their half term break, but luckily, not enough to hamper our game of fetch. I think we are getting better at it as Poppydog is slowly working out that I won’t throw the ball until she has dropped the one she has in her mouth!

There were even a few surfers in the sea, but even to my inexperienced eyes the surf looked way too messy. We enjoyed our runaround and retired wet but happy.

Two thoughts of the day:

The benchmark for quality beaches has already been set rather high – let’s see.

I’m glad we did Bodmin yesterday, as today we wouldn’t have been able to see a thing!