North Cornwall, South Cornwall, South Devon…the laws of probability suggest that North Devon should have a look in at some point. On paper it sounds logical but the difficulty with this is the hotchpotch of supposed A roads and linking B roads where the B stands for Blimey, is that a tractor around the next blind corner or are you just pleased to see me?
Nonetheless, never one to shirk a challenge (well, actually…), I found myself covering the forty miles to Bude with Mum one Sunday in something in excess of an hour. Now, the sharpest tools amongst you might note that Bude is in North Cornwall. But it’s near enough Devon and where the A road B road combo most easily spits you out. Wallowing under the only showers in the southwest, Bude at least provides Pengenna with a chance to make amends.
Traversing border country there appears to be no discernible checkpoint where car boots are searched for smuggled pasties and passengers questioned on cream tea etiquette. In one village there are white crosses on black fluttering in the wind, the next white on green. Hartland is in Devon – I know that much – and just a little further on is Clovelly, renowned for its steep cobbled streets and whitewashed cottages, zigzagging down to a harbour unchanged since it last featured in yet another turn-of-the-century BBC costume drama.
I have probably been here before, but I was too young to remember. Maybe someone carried me back up from the harbour because I was having a tantrum due to tired legs and the fact that I didn’t get an ice cream? It’s quite possible. At least back then, the adults would not have had to pay for the privilege of carrying an annoying toddler back to the car park. Today, in 21st Century Cameron’s Britain, there is an obligatory and tad on the pricey side ‘entry fee’.
Still, you can’t begrudge (too much) paying for access to a car free, quaintly charming maze of streets and a rugged sweep of pebbly beach. They even manage to throw in a waterfall, plunging down the ragged cliffs and disappearing into millions of stones. The money goes towards the upkeep of those stones, and everything else between there and the car park.
Ah, that car park. Walking back there could cause a tantrum, especially as I am abstaining from an ice cream. But I guess I have aged, and managed to make it without too much disquiet. There was even enough energy left for a walk for free to see out the day at Hartland Point. Here, Lundy was glowing in the late sun and the stupid country of Wales and its ridiculous rugby team were visible, preemptive gloating and smugness wafting above. Still, on this side of the water it was rather, ruggedly beautiful, northward facing, and definitely, definitively, Devon.