Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Barnstaple to Combe Martin

Another day, another bridge. Barnstaple's Taw River
Woke early to see that our B&B had a wonderful garden – improbable in central Barnstaple. Good breakfast in the Old Vicarage – a splendid gothic pile in the middle of the older part of town. Then walked Susan to the station so that I could walk back to the bus station, where I planned to return later. That way there were no missing yards in my journey North.

After that it was a frustrating day. The plan was to take my large case to that evening’s B&B in Combe Martin, and then drive on to Porlock to leave the car to be picked up a couple of days later by Chris Hill, who would drive it back to Tiverton where I would stay next Monday night before driving back to London the following morning. All fine as far as getting to the Porlock destination – but that’s where the problems started.

I had to wait almost an hour for a bus to Lynmouth. Spectacular country, with great views over the coast I would be travelling with Chris two days later. An excellent open-topped bus, a bit cold upstairs – and slow! When I reached Lynmouth it transpired that I would have to wait almost an hour and a quarter or a bus back to Barnstaple. No luck with local taxis either: all already committed, and impossible to use the mobile so I couldn’t get one from Barnstaple.

The funicular between Lynmouth and Lynton
In the end I took the funicular up to Lynton, and waited there for what I suspect was the bus I could have caught from Lynmouth. So altogether I had lost more than two hours for buses, and with two hours more on the journeys themselves it was nearly r:00 by the time I could set off from the bus station in Barnstaple.

Any thought of finding an attractive route on footpaths had to be abandoned, so I plotted a route on minor roads. With time on my hands I worked out the route and estimated the times for each stage. I haved to say I impressed myself – the estimates were almost unbelievably accurate – two minutes late at Prixford; bang on schedule at Muddiford; five minutes late at Indicott (not surprising given that this was an uphill section); a minute early at Wheel Farm, and five minutes early at the final destination, Blair Lodge in Combe Martin. If only one could always be as accurate with estimates!

Uncorrected for BST, so it's actually 5:30. Still less than half-way there
Not an interesting trip. Some reasonable scenery, but nothing exceptional. And all too often any view was hidden behind high hedges. This is, after all, the West Country.

I arrived at Blair Lodge to find that Chris Hill had got there almost a couple of hours earlier. The good news was that, although we hadn’t ordered it in advance they were able to provide dinner.

Not much photographic quality on this leg, I fear.

Mainly sunny, but cloud increasing during the day, until there were actually a few  drops of rain after arriving at our B&B. 10-17C. 21.1km (estimated from the map). 478m ascent, 475m descent. Entirely on roads.

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