The first week of September still brings out that nostalgic, back to school vibe in me, a time to reflect on the summer past before cosying down into autumn. I moved down to North Devon at the start of May with all the bounding enthusiasm of spending the summer by the sea.
It’s been a summer of scorching hot days, World Cup glory, of beach walks and cream teas and adjusting to life beyond a city suburb. Armed with OS maps and walk books, the planning geek in me set about researching what to do on my days off from work, some of which purely based on trying the local food!
Whilst I have visited South Devon on dozens of occasions (childhood summers spent at Sidmouth Folk Festival), the north was a little more tucked away, and despite a vague memory of a hostelling holiday in Ilfracombe, I had a brand new area to explore.
These are the places which left me with a happy heart.
1. A circular walk from Croyde to Baggy Point
My first adventure the weekend I arrived, I jumped on the bus to the popular surf village of Croyde.
I made my way around the beach headland towards the steep path up to Baggy Point. On my way, I stumbled across a gorgeous National Trust tearoom with a community allotment and a local craft shop in a wooden hut. I decided to treat myself to a local Devon crab sandwich, which I enjoyed amongst the veggie patches to fuel me for the hike up to Baggy Point, which afforded stunning views back down to Croyde and over to Woolacombe.
Make it happen
Catch the 21 bus from Barnstaple or Bideford to Croyde
National Trust Tearoom Sandleigh, Moor Lane, Croyde, EX33 1PA
2. Riding the tiny boat from Appledore to Instow for a feast at The Glorious Oyster
Between April and September, a small ferry runs between the colourful harbour village of Appledore on the tidal estuary of the river Torridge over to the sandy shore of Instow.
After the 5 minute ride, I followed the headland round for a seafood feast of Bajan fishcakes and Korean seaweed and tofu soup at The Glorious Oyster, a wooden seafood cafe set amongst the sand dunes in Instow. I basked in the sunshine and enjoyed the unusual flavours whilst nosing through books on the local area left for customers at the cafe.
Make it happen
The Appledore to Instow ferry this runs on a tidal timetable
The Glorious Oyster, Sandhills Beach Cafe, Instow EX39 4LF
3. A wild and choppy day trip to the island of Lundy
Post heatwave in Mid August, I took the 2hr ferry from Bideford to the tiny island of Lundy, 10 miles off the coast of Devon in the Bristol Channel.
Once on shore, I picked up a letterboxing kit from the small general store and took a hike around the east side of the 3-mile island, following various clues to boxes hidden around the island with ink stamps and pads.
I escaped the buffeting winds by climbing up the steep steps to the old lighthouse, chilled out in the deck chairs which had replaced the lights and sent postcards home before heading back on another choppy ride home.
Lundy is managed by the Landmark Trust.
MS Oldenburg runs from Bideford a couple of times a month at high tide, or more frequently from Ilfracombe
4. From roses to woodlands to a global arboretum: a day at RHS Rosemoor gardens
The older I’ve got, the more of a garden geek I’ve become, especially after months of volunteering at a local community garden in Nottingham.
I couldn’t wait to head down to Rosemoor and loved the variety of styles each garden offered – from the allotments for the local college students to a peaceful stone garden, the fiery tones of the hot garden, the fading blooms of the Rose garden and an arboretum which celebrates trees from around the world.
One thing I particularly loved was the numerous wooden swings, stone benches or mud huts to dive into for a quiet moment of reflection.
Make it happen
RHS Rosemoor is 3 miles from Torrington and can be reached on the 5B bus from Bideford. If you arrive by bike or bus, you can get a ‘green’ ticket which allows £3 off the admission fee
5. A midsummer Sri Lankan feast on Barricane beach
One of the most memorable meals of the summer, we drove over to Woolacombe on midsummers night, walked a short way up the hill and down some steep steps to the sheltered Barricane bay. Most nights in summer (weather permitting), the beach cafe serves up a plate of Sri Lankan curry, with rice, salads and poppodoms on real plates with real knife and forks that you can take down and enjoy on the beach.
Make it happen
Barricane Beach cafe serves a Sri Lankan curry from 5pm-7pm (or sell out) throughout the summer, weather dependent
6. Numerous beach walks and Hocking’s ice cream on Westward Ho! beach
This beach is only a short walk from my house an affords simple, gorgeous memories of early morning runs, afternoons spent reading my Kindle and even a sunset dip in the sea at 9 pm.
Even the walk down is a beauty, crossing Northam Burrows Country park and climbing up a peddle ridge before dropping down to the sandy shore.
The Hockings ice cream van is a familiar site in North Devon in summer – they’ve been making ice cream from the same site in Appledore since 1936.
7. An evening stroll up Kipling Tor, Westward Ho!
On the far end of Westward Ho! you will find the poem, ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling etched with stones along the promenade. The Jungle Book author went to school here, and the small hill at the end of the beach town has been named after him.
We took a walk up here on an amazing July evening, a stone shelter painted by local school children has views over to Lundy where we watched the sun melt over the sea before stopping off for hot doughnuts on the walk home.
8. Sunday coffee and cake at Fremington Quay
One Sunday in mid-May, I took a walk along a short, flat section of the South West Coast Path, following the River Taw.
I stopped at Fremington Quay Cafe which used to be the to be the old station building on the Tarka railway. The small museum documents how Fremington used to be a bustling trading port and the adjoining cafe serves gorgeous homemade lunches and cakes. I tucked into this amazing berry and white chocolate polenta cake and settled into one of the sofas with the Sunday papers.
Make it happen
Fremington Quay can be found 3 miles west of Barnstaple on the A3125
Fremington Quay Cafe EX31 2NH
9. Exploring the cobbled streets and harbour village of Clovelly
Clovelly was top of my list to visit when I moved down in May, famous for it’s coddled streets and harbour. It’s a privately owned village so you do have to pay to visit – it’s worth going early or late in the day. I had a super day checking out the craft shops, watching a potter at work, learning about the significance of fishing in the village in the old fisherman’s house museum and climbed over the rocks to a small waterfall before rounding off with a cream tea.
Make it happen
Clovelly is 11 miles west of Bideford and can be reached on bus 319
Admission is £7.50, alternatively, it can also be accessed using the South West Coast Path
10. Exploring Hartland Peninsula
On my walk to work, on a clear day, I can see the shadow of a lighthouse to the west, standing proudly on the edge of the Hartland Peninsula, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
I went out to Hartland twice this summer – I love the coast path in this area, with its towering sea cliffs and lonely bays, it’s quite an out the way place to get to, so was reasonably quiet even in the height of summer.
Tired of hiking one afternoon, we took the car round to Hartland Point, and the clouds lifted for a view of the colourful lighthouse.
And those were my summer memories 🙂 What were your stand out memories from summer 2018?