Last Updated on February 27, 2021 by Natalie Rabinowitz
With Covid travel restrictions slightly relaxed, but not 100% and uncertainty of normalcy but wanting to get out of London, I opted to explore Northern Devon. The past five years living in London, I had gone to Cornwall. There are contrasts between the two, and both offer resounding beauty.
From Travel Restrictions to Serenity Now
From Paddington, I took the train, with my mask in tow, to Barnstaple. A connection in Exeter St. David’s then the 319 bus to Horns Cross. This area of Devon can be challenging to get around without a car. Yet, being in the UK, public transportation is top-notch.
I planned out my trip, which consisted of 2 1/2 days of hiking and taking in the scenery. My first night I stayed at the Hoops Inn. A picturesque cottage with its beautiful thatched roof. A little expensive but with all my other trips overseas cancelled, I disregarded the expense.
Getting to Hoops Inn was a little tricky from the bus stop. The main route A39 is busy with traffic and no pedestrian pavement/sidewalk. I saw a footpath sign and turned off into a field. There was no additional signage or marked pathways. I ended up backtracking to the road.
Off the Coastal Beaten Path
I was anxious to get out on the trail. After checking in, I walked into a wheat field then followed a dirt road that took me on the path to Buck’s Mills (2 1/2 miles). A beautiful walk, yet minimal coastal views. Bucks Mills is a hidden gem of a tiny village. The village was quiet with just a few locals. I made my way down to the ocean, with its large pebble rocks and striking waterfall.
The following day, I ventured back towards the bus station where I stayed at the Coach and Horses.
Instead of the main road, I took to the fields and veered to the right. I was walking in a circle trudging through the wheat field. I kept my sense of direction and ended up on someone’s farm. Had to climb a fence to get on the dirt road. I guess this could be considered an adventurous outing, country style.
Only a 20 min walk on a quiet road to Peppercombe beach. I was led into an amazing lush forest that led me onto the beach. Pure tranquillity and seclusion with rugged red sandstone cliffs in the backdrop. Walked upon the array of different shapes and coloured rocks and took in the view.
Next days hike, I bypassed Buck’s Mills and climbed the hill towards Clovelly (2 miles). My walk took longer as I took in the views. This unique trail has some spectacular looking trees that offered coverage from the on and off sprinkles of rain. The coastal path came to an end onto Hobby Drive, a dirt road that led me to Clovelly. An appealing harbour village with cobblestone streets set back in time. In brief, slightly overcrowded for my taste especially during these surreal times. There was no bus service back to Horns Cross, so I took a taxi. Enjoyed a simple meal at the pub and chatted with some of the colourful locals.
I would venture back to this area for its forested canopy and beachfront view. Opt a right onto the coastal path hiking trail and head towards Westward Ho.