Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Friday 8th June, 2012

The weather was horrendous today. I heard on the radio that because of the gales and torrential rain, campers all over Devon had packed up and gone home. I had my campsite to myself. My tent has survived far worse storms than this in Shetland and Iceland and I was nice and snug inside it. So snug, I didn't emerge until the afternoon. I had a lazy, relaxing morning reading, writing and playing with my new Kindle.

By mid-afternoon the weather was clearing up a bit and I thought I really should do something. As it was too late to start a walk (and still not the weather for a coastal, cliff-edge walk) I thought I'd drive out and recce some of the places I want to walk next year on my next bit of the coastal path. The man I'd met in the bus shelter in Westward Ho! had said he was staying in Clovelly and that it was nice, so I thought I'd head there, see what it was like, and then decide what to do next.

Turning off the main road towards Clovelly I drove past some chocolate box style thatched cottages and down a narrow lane to a large car park. There were signs up informing me that I couldn't drive into the village and had to go into this car park. A large visitor centre was situated at the back of the car park. I parked up, looked around to see if I had to pay, but it seemed to be a free car park. I made use of the toilets and then wandered into the visitor centre. I had no idea what to expect and was quite surprised when I got inside. There seemed to be a cafe and shop, but to get to them I had to pass by a cashier and stump up £6.50. From what I could make out this £6.50 then entitled me to walk round the village.

I wasn't very impressed with this and wondered if it was like Land's End where if you turn up with a car you pay, but if you're walking it's free. It is on the coastal path after all. As is Clovelly. I was thinking of walking back to the lane and seeing where it took me, when an irate Irish family came towards me through the cashier point. The man said his family had just got their money back as they felt ripped off paying to walk round what turned out to be a village that you could walk round like any other if you didn't enter via the visitor centre. He advised me to just walk along the road. So I did.

The lane emerged at the top of the village and it was only then that I realised how high up I was. The village clings to the cliff side and narrow lanes wind their way down to the bottom. The buildings are very quaint and at some points are joined over the path to make short tunnels. There are numerous holiday cottages, cafes and little shops. One cottage was open to show what it would have been like many years ago when Clovelly was a fishing village rather than a tourist attraction. There are also a couple of tiny one-room chapels that it's possible to go inside.

Clovelly was a childhood home of Charles Kinglsey and he is credited with bringing it to the attention of the outside world. He got the inspiration to write 'The Water Babies' here and later wrote his novel 'Westward Ho!' in which the village is featured. A mock-up of his study can be seen in the small museum.

The whole village seemed so perfect it didn't seem quite real. Flowers were blooming, scents were heady, numerous very strokable cats were strategically placed, paintwork were fresh, windows were crystal clear. Even the weather was beautiful. How do they do that? Everywhere else in Devon is a complete washout, but in Clovelly it's lovely, warm and sunny!

At the bottom of the village is a small harbour, a pub and a pebbly beach with a waterfall. I slowly wound my way down to the bottom, stopping to take lots of photos. Then I slowly wound my way back to the top again, taking even more photos. From what I could see the coast path passes through the top of village and so when I walk here I won't get to see the village unless I made a detour. Because I've seen it now, I won't feel that I'm missing out if I don't get time. Also, I know that there's a car park and a bus service that I could use. I didn't have time to do anything else on my recce, but still felt it had been very worthwhile and I'd enjoyed my few hours in the sun.

The lane to the village
First glimpse of the sea

Nice gardens and cottages

I want a mobile like this
Narrow streets
A cottage as it would have been
Charles Kinglsey in his study
A glimpse of the sea
One of many cats
A long way down, still a long way to go
Sheltered harbour
There's even a waterfall
A pretty front door
Sleepy cat
Here's a link to Clovelly's website.

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