Went for an early walk along beach. Dog happy. Then I went to church, walking up to the little white hall I found yesterday. I’m not sure how old it was, but it wasn’t modern. Nor was it huge – it was pretty full, and I think there were 18 of us. It’s always a bit scary going to a new church – will anyone speak to you, or will people just stare and make you feel uncomfortable…This church was fine. People looked up and smiled when I arrived, which is always a good sign, and the Vicar came out from wherever he was hiding, just to say hello and ask where I was from. He was a retired policeman, and worked part-time, covering a couple of little churches. The service was nice, very traditional, with an easy, friendly atmosphere. You felt like everyone knew each other well, and it was nice to sit at the back and absorb it all. (Apart from the singing – you wouldn’t want to absorb that – despite the best efforts of the man on the keyboard, it was somewhat rough…)
We had a quick lunch in John’s Cafe (best cafe in the world). Then we drove to Abbotsham, which is sort of attached to Westward Ho. We parked near the cliff, on the edge of a caravan park, and set off for a walk.
The first thing you see is a house. A superb house. It’s huge, facing right out to sea, and is very beautiful. Unfortunately it appears to be falling down the cliff and is now derelict. I walked all round it, looking for a place to break in, but the security was pretty tight. Shame. I would like to die in a house like that. When the medics announce that my end is near, I hope my relatives will break in and rescue me from the beige, airless, machine-filled world of the hospital, and dump me in a derelict house on a cliff edge. Preferably with a stash of morphine, so nothing hurts. Then I can die looking at the sky and listening to sea-gulls and waves. But Husband said this was a morbid thing to say when looking at an old house, and hurried me away along the cliff.
The cliff walk is pretty perfect. There is grass, and gorse, and waves crashing against rocks. Next to us were fields with lambs in. At one point, there was a great mound of pebbles, right up to the cliff path, and we could scramble down onto the rocks and peer into rock pools. Husband was happy, explaining how fresh water channels had formed deep grooves in the rock. The dog was happy, charging up and down the path. I was happy, listening to the sea (and Husband, of course).
A long walk in Devon makes you hungry for a cream tea, so we decided to go to Clovelly, which we visited years ago when the children were small. The car-park is at the top of the village, and you have to pay to enter the village, because it’s all owned by the big estate. But as we were out of season, it was all free, and empty. I have never seen Clovelly empty before, usually it’s teeming with tourists. The village clings to the cliff, and has a cobbled street that meanders down to the harbour. The cobble stones make for pretty tough walking, so don’t wear heels. Or bring a pushchair (I can tell you, from previous experience, a pushchair is a very bad idea).
We walked down to the harbour, and The Red Lion pub was open. There was a fire burning in the snug, and they had cream teas. The tea was a bit ‘packaged’, but actually the scones were soft, and it is not the worst tea I’ve had. Sitting in the window seat, looking out to sea, it was timeless.
Then came the long slog back up the slippery cobble stones to the car park.
When I got back to the cottage, I checked my clever phone app to see how far we’d walked that day. I was sure it was further than the previous day (which was 16 km). I was surprised to see it was only 12km. Then I noticed I had climbed 52 staircases. Clearly the app can’t differentiate, and up and down is a staircase, even when it’s along a cliff edge.
Tomorrow we’re going home, but plan to drive back via Hankerton, where my granny lived as a girl.
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