Doyles Take England: Devon and Exmoor National Park
So this post is a day late... sorry about that. We're leaving for Ireland this evening and I spent more time yesterday preparing for our trip than I anticipated. SO without further ado, let's talk about Devon! After lunch in Bath we continued driving south to the county of Devon where we stayed for the next three nights. Devon has coastline in both the north and the south, touching both the Bristol Channel and the English Channel. We stayed in a small town called Lynton in the northern part of the county, very close to Somerset, with views over the Bristol Channel. Exmoor National Park is in North Devon, and we planned to explore that area during our stay. Everything about this area was beautiful; the cliffs and coast along our drive, the quiet town, the views from our B&B...
Lynton was a great base for us - no tour buses or crowds but still a quaint village with friendly locals and a few pubs and shops. Our B&B served us a wonderful breakfast each morning and the rooms looked out over the sea.
After a full English breakfast our first morning in Devon, we drove to Mortehoe and tackled an 8 mile hike on the Southwest Coast Path. The weather continued to cooperate and we had intermittent sun, and this section of the 630 mile long trail was stunningly beautiful. Around every corner was another perfect view, and the colors of the flowers, cliffs, and sea changed constantly as the sun moved in and out of the clouds. As usual, I took way too many pictures, but someday I'll be happy I have all these. Probably. Hopefully. Maybe not...
Connor and I walked down to a secluded beach at one point and soaked our feet in the cool water. We were probably 6 or 7 miles into the hike at this point, and the water felt amazing. Penny despises swimming, and we've thrown her in enough times that she won't even go near water. Click on the pictures below to get a closer look at the little village in the distance. You can see Connor and Dave up ahead if you look closely. Can you imagine living in a little village like this, walking your dog on the Southwest Coast Path each morning?!
That evening, we had dinner at a tapas restaurant in town and I have to say I was impressed. I didn't expect a little village this far off the beaten path to have Spanish cuisine, and in general I don't expect restaurant food to be very good. No offense to you lovely English! You have done a fabulous job embracing your flaws (I assume this is why you have so many terrible fish and chip shops)... you do you. And I will continue to seek out ethnic cuisine.
After breakfast (we all opted to forego the full English this time...) we set off for another day of hiking and exploring. Our planned hike was shorter, with more amazing views, but potentially a bit treacherous. The book we were using as a guide didn't make it sound too bad, and they definitely didn't use the word "treacherous," so we gave it a go. It started off innocently enough... and then all of a sudden we realized that Penny was covered in ticks. We had walked through a section of woods and she must have discovered a nest. I had never seen ticks so small in my life... some were no larger than a sesame seed. Others were normal sized... ugh, I was terrified she was going to get limes disease. We must have picked 20 or so off her. Crisis averted, we continued on.
So, innocent enough hike, and then the cliffs became progressively steeper and the path narrower...
And then fog started rolling in...
...and I decided this was ultimately a bad day to die. So we took the next path toward the village, through the farms and countryside, and Connor's contact rolled up into his head. Never a dull moment.
I do think this hike would have been terrific if we had fresh legs and weren't toting a little dog with us. You never know when she's going to get squirmy or freak out or smell a sheep and make a bid for freedom.
That evening we took an old cliff tram down the hill into Lynmouth, the town directly below Lynton at sea level. The train/tram is a hydraulic system that opened in 1890. It uses sea water to transport passengers up and down the cliff and it seemed to be in really great condition.
We had dinner in Lynmouth and met a couple and their dog who were sitting at a table next to us. Because I have no sense of decency I asked them if they have trouble with ticks. The couple, bless them, were very kind and we chatted about ticks and walking in England and they told me about special tick tweezers that we should look into. Before we left, the man tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a sleeve of said tick tweezers. He had run out to his truck to fetch a spare set for us. Isn't that the nicest thing?!
Fun story: these came in handy a week or so later when Connor thought he had a tick on his shoulder. I dutifully got the tweezers, Googled how to use them, and braced myself for whatever was about to happen next. I'm twisting the damn instrument, pinching the "tick" and twisting, and all of a sudden it explodes. It was a blood blister. I almost barfed.
So anyway, the next morning, Connor and I did a short hike before we needed to say goodbye to Lynton, and we met a bunch of silly little goats! There were a bunch of little baby goats, and one of them was sleeping on a rock on the cliff. As I watched, he tumbled off his perch, poor little dude.
We had a really great time in Devon and had plans to see Hamlet that evening, so we left before lunch!
I'll post about the rest of our adventure late next week when we're back from Ireland!