Tag Archive | Devon

Come for a ramble around the hill

Last week, on a hot sunny day, I went for a walk to explore a lane that passes behind our hill.

I set off down our private lane…

 

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Turning left I walked along the quiet country lane that runs along our valley on the opposite side to the house. We live pretty much in the centre of the below picture, with both house and garden hidden behind the tallest trees.

 

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I followed the lane to the end of the valley, then turned back on another lane that runs up the hill behind the house.

 

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There were lovely views from the hill, back down the valley, with our village in the distance on the right.

 

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A bit further on is the highest point for miles around, with views down the far side of the hill to the sea, with the Devon coast beyond. Fancy being able to walk from my house and see the sea!

 

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A little further on and the view is of the Taw and Torridge estuary.

 

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It was a lovely quiet lane, with hardly any cars, and one lone horserider.

 

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Just as my route left the lane and entered the woodland to return home, this view showed the road running south towards Braunton.

 

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That had taken me just over an hour, and then for another hour I followed the paths through the shady woodland.

 

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The wood  wraps around the hill and the side of the valley, and leads me back all the way to my garden.

 

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The view from the summit

I like walking up hills, even though it is hard work, as you get a huge sense of achievement, and the view from the summit is usually worth the climb. The exception was the time I struggled up Snowdon with a group of kids from the school where I worked. In the rain. In a cloud from the car park to the summit and down again. No views at all, and the cafe at the top was shut as well. Pah!

So I was pleased that the day of the walking club’s hike up Codden Hill near Barnstaple dawned bright and clear.

 

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The path led directly up the end of the ridge, and was very steep and unrelenting. I managed it quite well, considering, so maybe the elusive fitness is finally happening. And the views from the top made it all worthwhile.

 

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Directly below is was Bishop’s Tawton where we started, then beyond that is Barnstaple. The hill in the distance on the right is Saunton Down, with Braunton Burrows stretching across just below the sea. In the other directions it was rolling green landscapes as far as the eye could see.

 

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After a brief stop for a drink and a mint humbug, which is a walking club tradition, apparently, we headed down the far side. It was good to stretch out and walk at speed after the slow climb, and I walked a large section of the walk at the front with the leader.

 

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Once we reached the valley the walk skirted round the side of the hill, giving us great views of where we had been. I stopped briefly to watch a male blackcap singing in a bush. Summer is coming!

 

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The return journey followed a pretty stream through some wet woodlands. There was a dipper flying along the stream, but there seems to be a dipper in every stream in Devon. I am not complaining, they are lovely birds to watch.

 

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The ridge of Codden Hill was ever present.

 

 

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Little lambs were in every field, mostly resting in the sun.

 

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We passed through an old quarry.

 

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Marsh marigolds were putting on a fine show in the shallow pools.

 

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After a good stretch of level walking, we then had to use our climbing muscles again as the path gently rose across grassy fields to return us to our start, where we refreshed ourselves in the local pub before heading home. They did a very nice prawn salad, and the cider wasn’t bad either. Just what we needed, and you do have to support the local businesses, after all!

 

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A change in the weather…finally!

It has actually stopped raining in Devon. We had a mainly dry weekend. Unfortunately we were not in Devon, but had gone North to visit family. In the North it was snowy, so not only did we miss a dry weekend, but we slipped and slid about on icy pavements. And the M6 is not nice on a Friday even in good weather, and it was awful in snow. But we did enjoy the break, and the company, so returned to our rural idyll refreshed and ready to work.

 

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An apology here for forgetting to take a before picture. But if you look closely at the lane, can you see the dark area on the left, reaching about a quarter of the way across the lane? That was where the mat of soil and dead leaves was hiding the tarmac. Three barrow-loads later, and we have a wider lane. Well, near the house, anyway. The whole lane could really do with the same treatment, but it is half a mile long…

Today we woke to a heavy frost, coating the garden with grey. Our hillside faces north, so although the winter sun puts in an appearance for a few hours, it is at a very shallow angle to the ground, so the frost didn’t melt all day. Not a day for weeding, so instead I had a bonfire. It is the first chance I have had, but it was still a bit of a struggle to light as everything was so cold. But once it was going, I got a really good blaze, and managed to burn everything, including damp, leafy stuff. T’was a bit smoky though!

 

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Following the bonfire, I had to put all my clothes in the wash, and have a quick shower, as this afternoon was my first shift as a volunteer in the local shop. It is a non-profit community shop in the heart of the village, and does a roaring trade in milk, bread, papers, pasties, after-school snacks, as well as being the place for a good gossip.  I enjoyed my two hour shift, and met a few new villagers, so it was a good experience. I am now officially Mrs Wednesday 2 til 4.

One last photo to prove that the sun does come out.

 

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Sunday morning river walk

The forecast was good for this morning, so we set off at first light, which is of course not very early this time of year. A mere ten minute drive brought us to Velator Quay, on the small but navigable River Caen, just south of Braunton. The sun was trying to beak through, the breeze was not cold, if a bit strong, and we had a bracing 5 or 6 mile walk down the river until it joins the Taw, and then out to Crow Point. From there are fine views across the estuary to the cute riverfront towns of Appledore and Instow. We saw plenty of waders, a few duck, an egret, and a lovely view of a kingfisher as we walked back through the country lanes. I will let the photos say the rest.

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A Country Girl Again

I was brought up in a village in Surrey, with towns and bustle not far away. But our little community lay protected in a bend in the river, surrounded by broad flood plains, so we had our own small piece of countryside. From a young age I roamed the sandy footpaths and tangled woods near home, and once I was allowed out on my bicycle I explored much farther afield.

I climbed gnarled oak trees, explored every track and lane, and cycled the towpath alongside the river. My friend and I used to hang around at the locks and help the narrowboats with the lock gates. Sometimes we would be rewarded with a ride on the boat to the next lock – in those days an innocent act of kindness which would horrify most parents today – myself included!

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Wey Navigation – photo credit: aIMG_1771 via photopin (license)

I left home to work in London, then married and moved to a market town in Hertfordshire where my husband and I have raised a family. We all enjoy being outdoors, and I have never lost my love of walking and nature. Now the children have flown the nest, we have decided to realise our dream of moving to the countryside, so that we can have a more relaxed lifestyle, a bigger garden, and beautiful countryside to explore.

We have settled upon North Devon, as we have spent many happy holidays in the area, and love its mix of sandy beaches, cliff paths, peaceful moors and wooded valleys. Our house is sold, and we have chosen a nice solid stone barn conversion with over an acre of garden, just a few minutes drive from the coast. I can’t wait to move, and be a country girl again!