Monday, 21 February 2011

Bucks Mills

Went to look at a house yesterday which is up for auction in April.  It is just 500m from the cliff path that runs between Peppercombe and Bucks mills on the North facing coast between Clovelly and Bideford, the bay is known as Bideford or Barnstaple Bay.  

After the viewing we walked down from the house through the woods to Bucks Mills.  Bucks Mills could have become another Clovelly, but has managed to avoid this, there are no shops or pub to attract the tourist.  However the village is very pretty and very quiet, I imagine that many of the homes are holiday homes and that in the summer it is a bit busier. 

You cannot park in the village and have to leave your car in the car park (if you drive in) at the top of the village and walk down.  When you get to the bottom there is a very steep path down to the beach with fabulous views towards Clovelly in one direction the mouth of the Taw/Torridge estuary in the other.  It is a strangely empty coast line, there is something rather prehistoric about it all.  The beach isn't terribly sandy, but much quieter than the beaches on the West facing coast around Bude.  I should think fishing would be good here and indeed fishing boats still go out from Clovelly.

One of the attractions for me about Bucks Mills is the old lime kiln and remains of the old harbour that was here in centuries past.  There is nothing left of the harbour now except in a finger of gravel and rock that points out to sea and is known as the Gore.  This area, as I have mentioned before has very poor soil and one of the ways to make it fertile (apart from bringing in sand which I have talked about previously re the Bude Canal) was (and still is) to lime it.  Limestone was brought in to Bucks Mills and then burned down to make it usable on the soil.  There are quite a few old lime kilns along this coastline including one near Instow opposite Appledore.

The walk back up to the house we had looked at and where we had left our car can best be described as steep and rather slippery and muddy, but through ancient woodland which even at this time of the year was beautiful and I should think in a couple of weeks will be ablaze with wild flowers.  Must try to go back and have another walk along there in April.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Spring is on the way?

Heard the yellow hammer for the first time in months this morning.  Just love this bird, it was one of the first songs I recognised when we came to view this house and is so evocative of my childhood, for some reason it's song makes me feel better!

Not entirely convinced we are out of the wood yet in terms of any more snow...don't count your chickens, or in this case your yellow hammers, last Feb and March were snowy so anything could happen yet!

Edited to say that on Saturday we had a bit of a stroll along the cliff above Widemouth Bay and I swear I heard a Lark!  Must have been lost as it has gone back to being horrible cold and wet today! 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Haven't really thought much of Appledore before but have to confess have only really driven through it, or parked up when going sea fishing from there.  You can see that the village might be interesting looking up the narrow streets from the sea front where you park, but just have never done it.  Also Appledore is well known as a second home mecca so there must be something to it.  

Admittedly in recent years it has become known for it's literary festival; sadly this year this has been cancelled due to lack of funds, but it was becoming as well known as Hay or Cheltenham.
So yesterday, we both had the day off and wanted to go for lunch somewhere; no not a romantic valentines day lunch just lunch! M decided that he wanted to go to Appledore as he told me he had found a good pub; I couldn't quite believe it as had never seen one that looked good, but he assured me so we went.

Well, there is more to Appledore than meets the eye as I discovered!  If you park your car in the car park at the end of the harbourside or on the road and walk to your left you find a narrow side streets lined with tiny houses, most of which, sadly, seemed to be holiday homes.  There is a tiny tiny one called the dolls house with has been squeezed into the smallest of spaces and yes, this too is a holiday home.  There are two pubs down this narrow street and we went into The Beaver and had a good (if rather large) lunch.  There were good views out across the estuary and out to sea and we could watch the weather coming in, one of our favorite pastimes.  Off these narrow side streets you also catch glimpses of little courtyards and cobbled streets, very pretty. At the end of this street, past the pubs, you come to the RNLI station which you can visit and look around.

All in all a good day out and nice to see a bit more of Appledore; no more will I think there is nothing there!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

An gentle stroll on the South West Coast path

It may seem a bit of an oxymoron to say that we had a gentle stroll on the SW coast path as most of it (in my experience so far) has been anything but gentle, but this bit was great.  Starting at the Parish Church at Tintagel, if you didn't know how to get to it you would never find it, very tucked away down a narrow lane, then along the cliff to Trebarwith Strand for a well needed pint of Tribute to refresh before walking back.

Tintagel of course is famous for the ruins of what some believe is Camelot, King Arthur's legendary castle.  Others, and to be honest I think this is the correct interpretation, believe that this amazing 'fortress' is the site of an ancient Celtic monastery and what a place for inspiration.  We haven't managed to 'do' the castle yet, but friends tell me it is not for the fainthearted (sheer drops) and not wise to do on a wet day as the place can be slippery.  Because of the links with the Arthurian legend, Tintagel has become rather a tourist trap with lots of tat shops and pasty shops named after the famous Merlin.  Parking in Tintagel is a nightmare and can cost you a small fortune in the summer.

One of the things I like about Tintagel is the other 'castle' a monstrous hotel perched on the cliffs next to the ruin.  It is rather art deco inside and I believe was built as a hotel in the late 1800's, it still has rather an old fashioned feel to it.  The outside of it, in my opinion, is rather an eyesore, but yesterday I noted that it seemed to look at bit better so there must have been some work done on it.  It is well worth a visit just to appreciate the views from it.

Our walk started the other side of the ruin, now run by the National Trust and you need to pay a fee to get in, from the Hotel and followed the very well marked cliff path past a youth hostel with a fantastic view; the picture opposite shows the youth hostel.  The waves were crashing against the rocks but each time I tried to get a picture of the water coming over the cliff top I mistimed it; need to get back there with my proper camera and a tripod, my new blog main picture was the best I could get!  The walk to Trebarwith and the Port William Inn; now owned by St Austell brewery and recently rather done up; we stayed there many many years ago and it seems to have lost some of it's charm but the location is just amazing; is a gentle one and it is only at the end as you descend into Trebarwith Strand that the going becomes a little tricky.

It is an interesting walk with ruins of slate mines created in the 17 and 1800's.  You can still see the remains of tram lines and the working,s and in places exploratory mine workings (like this 'door' in the cliff).  There are fantastic walls built into the sheer cliff and you wonder how anyone could have built these.  At a stage in the walk you turn a corner following the cliff and then can see the Port William in the distance, below you there appears to be a track and this leads to an old quay where ships would have been moored up and the slate loaded on. (you can just make out the track to the left of the picture on the left). The walls and 'ramparts' are all part of the mine workings, quite amazing.
After a beer or cool soft drink at the Port William you could carry on up a VERY steep cliff towards Port Issac but we turned round as this point and went back up the cliff path (bit steep in places, but once you are back on the top it is easy again) and took a bit of a detour off the cliff path to make the walk a circular ones.  You can of course return the way you came. 

A good resource for the South West Coast path is this site,  it includes planning to do the whole 630 miles, splitting the walk into day long walks, or shows the shorter circular walks including the one we did yesterday.  It details places of interest and history and things to look out for, so if you are thinking of doing any of the SW coast path this site is well worth looking at.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Busy busy no time to stop

Seems like I haven't stopped for breath for the last 6 weeks, lots of my students were finishing their course and it seemed to be a mad rush right at the end.  Thankfully am nearly there now.

News from this end apart from being busy is that our single hen sadly passed away about 2 weeks ago.  We had been out all Saturday and she had been locked in her run, she hadn't been out much recently, wasn't keen on the cold in her old age.  When we got home on Saturday afternoon she was sitting in the nesting box looking pretty fed up, but not ill looking.  Sunday morning when I went to feed her and let her out I found her fast asleep on the floor of the hen house with her head tucked underneath her wing.  Hopefully she didn't suffer but just fell asleep and didn't wake up.  Bit sad to loose her as she was such a character; previously when we have lost hens we had other ones to take their place, but now we are completely henless.  We certainly will get more now, after giving the hen house a very thorough disinfect - not that we think there was a problem here, but it gives us a chance to do it properly when it is empty.  Problem is just can't decide what to get, I find that I make a decision on the next ones and then see other ones and change my mind!

Starting also to think about the garden and now have seed potatoes chitting on the window sills and M has planted out some tomato and chilli seeds and (not sure why) some cauliflowers.  I say I am not sure why as we have tried to grow them for many years and never been successful.  I have also planted out the garlic; a little late but hopefully it will be OK.  Now sorting through the rest of the seed packets to see what is out of date and what we have run out of.

Bead making has been a bit slow due to the amount of work I have, but I did manage to go on a two day course last weekend which was fab but tiring.  More on this on my glass blog.