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  • Writer's picturePenny

And on the 12th day...we rest.

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Day 5: Combe Martin to Woolacombe


After a necessary rest day in Ilfracombe we continued our walk heading toward Woolacombe.



We had planned to stop at a pub for lunch in Lee Bay (absolutely adorable and quiet) then about 500m out from the pub, Penny pulled up with a limp. We checked her over but couldn't find anything wrong with her paws or ankles (or are they knees?) but to be on the safe side, we carried her the 1/2km to the pub and settled her down to rest We hoped that she was just tired but Jess was anxious the whole meal while Penny and Hannah napped away their troubles.



Before heading back out we took one more look at her paws and found the teeniest bit of thorn poking out of one of her pads. PHEWWW! Pulled that out and we were back on the trail with Penny back to her spritely self. We arrived into Woolacombe around 5pm to find it rammed full of people on half-term break. We snuck into a restaurant for a cold beverage and meal before descending into the sand dunes to find a suitable spot to wild camp. Exhausted, we picked a place a little too close to footpaths but no one seemed to mind so we settled in for the evening.


Day 6: Woolacombe to Braunton


We were suddenly awake in the 5s and left the dunes having achieved our earliest start time of the trip...6:42am. We walked (slowly due to the weight of the packs) along the beach to allow Penny a nice run around. We left the beach and climbed toward Baggy Point where we could see a clear view of what our next few days/weeks were going to entail.



At this point we were dreaming of coffee and second breakfast (we do this now) and happened upon a surf cafe in Croyde Bay where we enjoyed a quick hit of caffeine and refueled with some cakes. We continued along the path until it met up with the Tarka Trail and took us through a golf course.



Doing our best to avoid errant shots and generally "beware golf" we did our best to avoid the heat and arrived in Braunton around 5pm where we resupplied and caught a bus to a local campsite for a shower and rest.


Day 7: Braunton to Instow


We had a lie in and left a bit late for our next leg, but had a coffee and got the SWCP stamp for the North Devon stretch of the path...so we had that going for us. Unfortunately, we missed the Somerset/Exmoor stamp...hopefully we will be able to grab it another time.



We joined up with the Tarka trail again but this time is was on tarmac as it skirted around the Chivenor Military Base.



In the guide book this day's section is 37km!! We decided to cut it in half and aim for a campsite just before Instow. We walked about 16km and stopped at a lovely campsite where we showered and grabbed a beer and pizza from a brewery on-site. This day was a definite struggle on the feet and we were worried about The Penner's paws on the hot tarmac. She crushed out the km's and had a much deserved rest when we arrived at the campsite that evening.


Day 8: Instow to Westward Ho!


Back on the tarmac... We made it into Instow for breakfast and enjoyed our second cream tea of the trip. After breakfast we continued on the path to Bideford and then toward Appledore where we finally escaped the hard road. In Appledore we hung out on The Quay and watched people crabbing. The town itself was quaint but packed a lot of character.



After a short rest we continued on and made it to Westward Ho!.




We did a quick resupply and then continued on the path until we found the most perfect camping spot about 40min past the town. We had a quick dip in the ocean to clean up and soothe our weary legs before cooking up some dinner, enjoying the sunset, and getting to bed early.



Day 9: Westward Ho! to Clovelly


New record for earliest trail start: 6:15am! We didn't have enough water to make breakfast so we hiked until we found a stream so that we could refill our bottles.



After a late breakfast we continued walking for a few hours until we reached a coach house owned by the National Trust. We took a rest there. Nature called for Hannah and she tried to tuck herself away somewhere off path but swears that some people walking along may have seen her... apologies to that unlucky couple. We continued along and stopped for lunch near Bucks Mill before started the longest 4km descent into Clovelly.



Upon arrival in Clovelly we were instantly struck by how adorable it was. The cobbled, steep streets (how could they afford to put the stones like that? Subtle brag) prevented vehicles from driving down to the high street, so locals made little sleighs to bring their shopping etc down to their houses.



After reaching the bottom we realized that we had stumbled upon a cider festival and thought that we'd ought to have one to support it- we can definitely recommend the Rib Tickler. We hung about and listened to the live music until our Patagonia pal, Helen arrived in her converted van, Murph! Penny was so excited to sleep "inside" for a night. We slept in Murph that night and looked forward to the next day with a new member of the pack.


Day 10: Clovelly to Hartland Quay


Late start but that's alright. We had to sort out things with Murph, he will be acting as a sort of support vehicle for all of us as we continue walking the path. Great to be reunited with our fellow "Hobo" who we met in Chile doing the O Trek in Torres del Paine, it was friends at first offer of cup a tea!



We headed out of Clovelly and took on some steep ascents and descents. After about 45min we came across a cove where Hannah wanted to soak her feet in the ocean. We all climbed down only to find that we were at Blackchurch Rock, a really awesome natural rock formation with holes.




We continued on for a few hours until we came across Hartland Point. It is at this point that the South West Coast takes a southern turn. We walked down and stopped at a cafe for lunch, a nap, and a stretch.



Fully fed and watered we continued on until we got to Hartland Quay. This is a lovely little place on the water with views for miles. We had some early dinner and hung around until it cooled off a bit before heading back out.



We walked for another hour or so until we got to South Hole (lol) where we found a flat area to set up camp. After such a long day we were all ready to head to bed. Once the sun went down we were treated to an amazing Strawberry Moon!



Day 11: Hartland Quay to Bude


Exhausted from the previous leg...we had a slight lie in. Once we got onto the trail we started to tick off the numerous ups and downs scheduled in the days leg. We took breaks every 45-60min to make sure Penny was coping okay as it was already boiling at 10am.



We came across the most fantastic wild camp site at Welcombe Beach. There was a waterfall and a natural pool for bathing...we made note for another time.



As we continued on we crossed into the Cornish border, making this our 3rd county visited on our trek.




Shortly before crossing into Cornwall we came across Ronald Duncan's writing hut where inspiration struck and we coined this lovely gem:


Steady paced plodding on

Wind swept locks

Docks and brambles passed

Wildflower stretch for morning rays


Any publishers out there? We are available for signing.


We stopped for lunch around 2pm at Duckpool Beach. Penny needed a rest but couldn't really settle with all of the off-lead dogs so we decided to move to a cafe about 30min walk away.



This was a great decision on our part as they closed shortly after we ordered a round of ice cream. Helen left us at this point to hitchhike back to Murph (she hitched a lorry...a lifelong dream of hers- a reminder to us all to dream big...). We continued on the last 5km to Bude.



We grabbed a meal and then plodded on to a campsite where we showered and crashed. The next day was a very, very much needed rest day after 7 days of trekking in a row.



Want to help Penny's cause? Click here to donate to the Dog Trouble Foundation. Thanks!!




Leg Summary:


Combe Martin to Woolacombe: 23 5km, 1020m elevation gained.


Woolacombe to Braunton: 23.5km, 430m elevation gained.


Braunton to Instow to Westward Ho!: 37.5km, 140m elevation gained.


Westward Ho! to Clovelly: 18.5 km, 980m elevation gained.


Clovelly to Hartland Quay: 16.5 km, 1000m elevation gained.


Hartland Quay to Bude: 24.5km, 1390m elevation gained.

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