Base Camp Journal: North Devon
Being on the high ground on the north Devon coast, the Damage Barton caravan site was exposed to the cold blustery wind when we arrived there. It would be the ideal place to stay in July or August, I'd imagine. Damage Barton is actually the name of the nearby farm and surrounding fields. The region is called Mortehoe.
And what a job it was getting there, with Mortehoe Station Road being so narrow, and with vehicles coming and going from the other holiday parks being situated along it!
My first impressions of the site itself: It's a very nice location - we could see roughly 25 miles across the Bristol Channel and make out the coast of Wales. And we had an unobstructed view of the sun setting over the horizon - a rare sight indeed - which was a huge plus for Robby.
'They keep the grounds immaculate here, don't they?' Robby observed, while we were chiling over a morning coffee.
'Yeah. They were inspecting all the vacant pitches earlier, hun'.
'I love the fact they levelled every pitch. They dug out all the grass and filled it with gravel. Bracelands tried doing similar, but not as well as over here.'
There is also a nice little shop behind the reception building, selling essentials, confectionary, branded merchandise and a small range of locally produced and cooked meat. Two of the neighbouring holiday sites have Nisa stores. At the end of Mortehoe Station Road there is the Fortescue Inn, which is a very friendly pub.
On our first evening there, we attempted to reach the coast through a lovely trail that took us through Damage Barton farm and the fields behind it. The coast is much further away than it looks.
We spent much of the next afternoon in Ilfracombe, just a couple of miles north east of the site. It's one of the most interesting harbour towns we have visited so far, even if it's a little rough. And, yes, I did impulse buy some tat again, as I always do in these places.
It seemed like every cafe and eatery was selling crab sandwiches. That's more to Robby's taste than mine.
On the harbour there is a giant grotesque statue of a pregnant and half-flayed lady holding a sword and scales. It's one of Damian Hirst's art pieces.
This town is entirely different to Ilfracombe. We reached there on foot, cutting through a nearby holiday park and joining a trail that led to Combesgate View. It only took us 45 minutes.
It was sunny and much warmer when we got there, and we found the place a lot more pleasant than Ilfracombe. It is a tourist trap - evidently a popular location for surfing - but it wasn't too busy. The beach itself is vast, and we had no problem finding a quiet spot to relax for half an hour.
We had a few more drinks and a meal at The Jube. The bar is trendy, but not pretentious. Most the restauants and eateries seemed to be charging £5 more than everywhere else.
Barnstaple is no different to any other town with a high street, but it's a large place and we didn't really venture much beyond the retail park area on the other side of the bridge. Parking was very cheap, though, being £2.40 for the day.
Robby reckons the town is trying to 're-emerge into the 21st century, with bistros and bars'. We stopped at a very nice one called 'Latitude 48',
One place that was worth visiting, aside from Claire's Accessories, is the small, volunteer-run Barum Museum, between the high street and the bridge. There were a surprising number of interesting exhibits there, mainly from between 1880s and 1920s, and we spent a good twenty minutes chatting to the guy who was in charge of a very detailed model raillway.