A cliff top walk of the highest calibre. I had been warned about the section from Hartland to Bude, 16 miles and 4500ft of ascent/descent so taking my decrepit state into consideration I looked for alternatives. The map showed a PH at Morwenstow, half way, and phoning them I secured a bed for the night. The only problem the landlord warned me of was that they were hosting a beer and cider festival – even better but that’s another story.
The morning at Hartland Quay was perfect, the previous nights storm had vanished and I enjoyed a pre-breakfast stroll to admire the dramatic coast. Visible distant headlands would soon be reached but it is what they hide that makes the SW path challenging. Side valleys coming from the hinterland contain lively streams cutting down through the cliffs, often ending in a waterfall onto the beach, giving so much character and diversity to the walk. I wanted to explore all these enchanting valleys inland – so little time. Today there were a lot of these. In one of the first campers were scrambling down to the beach for some early morning surfing.
After that there was a good level cliff top section when I had time and breath to admire the views back to Harland Quay and Lundy, there was even a perfectly placed picnic bench to have a snack whilst doing so.
And then into Cornwall, or Kernow its Cornish name. Recent strimming from here on suggests Cornwall has a higher priority or budget for the path than Devon. The spectacular scenery continued and looking back Hartland Quay was still visible as was Lundy Island.
After more steep valleys the church tower at Morwenstow came into view but first I had to visit Hawker’s Hut. Parson Hawker occupied the vicarage from 1834-74 and being the eccentric character he was built himself a little hut from driftwood, here high on the cliff he would contemplate the Atlantic. I spent some time doing the same.
I then made my way to The Bush Inn for the night. A traditional inn which hasn’t changed much over the years; possibly, along with others, one of the inspirations for Jamaica Inn. Murderous wreckers were common on this coast. Oh and did I mention the beer and cider festival?