Day 12: 04 Apr 2014; Westacott to Braunton
|Fri 04 Apr 2014
|Start to end time
|Route miles left
|Route ft left
|Misty and drizzly in the morning, brightened up by 11 and became sunny and warm (16C) in the afternoon. Light South Westerly breeze
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
|GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)
“This was a lovely, easy, day! At under 18 miles and less than 1000 ft of climbing, it was a bit of a walk in the park. And to cap it all, the sun shone, too! It’s amazing how much easier everything seems when the weather is decent.
Westacott campsite was excellent in most respects except that the tranquillity was shattered at 5 am when two owls started having a hooting competition. I was unable to get back to sleep, so got up early and made a very leisurely traverse the 4 miles into Bideford for breakfast. I was looking for a place to eat and when faced with a choice of two – one called a “café” and other called a “bistro”, it was pretty obvious which was going to be more suitable for a rather muddy hiker.
Fortified with bacon rolls, teacakes, tea and a milkshake (yes I know my diet isn’t as healthy as it might be), I set off along the “Tarka Trail” to Barnstaple. The Tarka trail is a long distance cycle route going through North Devon, and is named after Tarka the otter, from Henry Williamson’s books, which apparently lived round here. This section of the trail goes along a disused railway line and other walkers had said that it would be boring “because it is so flat”. Well, in my book flat is fantastic and I really enjoyed the stroll, which seemed almost effortless after yesterday’s toils in the rain up and down the coastal cliffs. I seemed to be in Barnstaple in no time, further helped on my way by refreshments at the excellent Fremlington teashop, and also by the fact that the sun came out and shone pretty much all afternoon.
I didn’t see any otters, but there was an abundance of wildlife of the plant variety. In the warm sun, after all the rain, vegetation was sprouting everywhere – you could almost hear the grass grow, it was so fertile. I spotted more primroses than I’d ever seen in my life, oxlips, and an embankment full of fritillaries, which I’d never seen in the wild before. I skirted quickly through Barnstaple to reach the ”Tarka” [yes it is a bit of a theme around here] campsite by 4. And it’s warm and dry enough to sit outside the tent and write this blog! I imagine I would eventually get bored if every day were like this, but I think it would take quite a long time…”