Category Archives: Elsewhere in the British Isles

Things we’ve see along the SWCP

Sometimes we do see some strange things when we are out and about.  It stops us in our tracks.   Here’s just a handful of unusual things spotted and photographed when walking along the South West Coast Path.

This is the first one taken in Dorset.  We kept our eyes peeled for those fast horses but didn’t spot any which was a shame in a way!

About a mile away from the hustle and bustle of Plymouth we spotted this very curious message. ‘Please wipe your feet’ .  What, why and how we asked ourselves.

This looked like it must have been a figurehead on an ancient sailing boat.  A wonderful wooden carving just off the footpath facing out to sea.  Symbolic maybe and I kept wondering how old it was and how it came to being where it was….fairly close to Brixham from memory.

This one just made me smile.  On the Isle of Portland where there is plenty of rock to play with.  It also made me think of Greek ruins….

Finally this sweet little house squeezed between two others.  Taken as we walked into Appledore, North Devon.


Photo Challenge Not the Norm!


Getting close to cattle on footpaths

Just saying Good Morning

Once upon a time one of the biggest fears Tim and I had when out and about walking was meeting cattle.  We would scramble across stiles and edge our way around fields.

So many stories of walkers being chased or worse, trampled, when crossing fields played on our minds.

However, over the many years of walking, we have only once been really scared.  That was up in the Lake District when we had no where to go and a herd was heading along the same path as us.  We escaped up a steep rocky bank and they passed by.  Mooing loudly as they went!

Be careful if you have a dog and be respectful if they have young and you shouldn’t really have any problems.

Here are a few photos which show how brave we have managed to get.

Cattle – always curious. We admired this one more than most.

Some have lovely fluffy hair styles

Regular milking stock

Best of all are the Highland cattle.  Surprisingly at home in Norfolk and Cornwall.

Quite fearsome but just like teddy bears

Up close but friendly

Quite at home on the coast

Photo Challenge Close


The Minack Theatre : Wow, what a view

At a place called Porthcurno in Cornwall, high on the cliffs above the Atlantic Ocean is a unique open air theatre called The Minack Theatre. Almost entirely built by a lady called Rowena Cade, it has grown and grown since the 1930s and every summer season thousands of people a year see a show or just go along and visit the site. We had no idea quite how magnificent this place would be.

While tackling this section of the south west coast path in 2016 we passed this very spot but didn’t go in, we just descended steeply to Porthcurno Beach. We promised ourselves that we would return when we were in a more leisurely holiday mode with no buses to catch or miles to cover.  This was exactly what we did last week while on holiday.

Our plan for the day was initially to just sit and take photos at a small cove called Porthgwarra, a tiny secluded place just two miles away from Porthcurno.

It’s a perilous, single track, car journey from the ‘main road’ down to Porthgwarra. I’m not brave enough to drive those tiny lanes – Tim is much more confident. We arrived safely (very early), parked the car, watched some sea kayakers set off then thought who else have we got to watch? Possibly no one. So we set off for Porthcurno.

The coastline is spectacular here by the way. The whole stretch from Lands End along the south coastline of Cornwall is amazing. A couple of headlands later we reached the Minack car park and the entrance to the site. Our entrance fee was £5 each and well worth it.

View from near the top

The staggering view blew our minds once we passed through the visitors centre but it was the gardens that we headed to first. We sat amongst the tropical plants which surround the theatre at the back and sides and began to take it all in.

Then we looked down over the top railing to the seating, the stage and the sea.

Many people seemed to have trouble with the steep steps – young and old alike.  It makes me worry for the future. Our walks in the hills and mountains has helped our ageing legs and very soon we were like goats leaping up and down and across where we could.

Lunchtime. Sat in possibly the best seats in the house, we had our picnic and watched people. It was a great spot – like a box in a ‘real’ theatre. We could see the stage and the rest of the seating as we tucked into our cheese sandwiches and topped up our sunscreen. There wasn’t a show on so people were taking lots of photos all over. One popular spot to take your shots was below an archway on the stage. You can just see a couple in the photo below.

We yawned and stared and chatted about the people around us…you know how that happens. Some people just catch your attention. The person in the multi-coloured jumper, the family arguements, the elderly person who looks lost, the people who just look so glum, the young woman doing a handstand near the stage (yes, that really did happen).

Then we decided to move from our lofty viewing area and went ‘on stage’. And people were probably watching us. I wonder what they thought….if anything. Thankfully it was quite quiet – although they quickly closed off the section that Tim had stood on (see Tim on stage below). We laughed about that.







Enough fooling about we were back watching the beach visitors from a very lofty perch while having a nice cup of tea. What a view.

This post is linked to the Weekly Prompts photo challenge
Photo Challenge People


Superhero in red

This time last year Tim and I were about to start a weeks holiday in The Lake District.  The forecast was for snow and very cold weather but we were prepared.  We had our Microspikes!

Here I am on day one of our holiday, on the western slope of Skiddaw (Lake District mountain), sporting my new Kahtoola Microspikes.

The great online reviews that we had read were all true and we felt like everything was possible in our non slip, extra traction foot wear.

The weather turned out to be truly amazing all week, snowing at night and sunny during the day, and I wore those spikes every day.

I added lots of photos to a post about this trip which can be seen here :-

Something I didn’t mention in that post is that on our way down from Skiddaw summit we passed several walkers struggling downhill and uphill.  One lady, on her way up, stopped us and asked how we made it look so easy.  We explained it was our new spikes.  Then she said she actually had a pair with her but didn’t know how or whether to put them on, having borrowed them from her daughter.  Tim immediately insisted on helping her out.  Here he is doing just that….

After this she plodded upwards for a few steps then stopped, turned and gave us a thumbs up, big smile and thank you.

My hero, in red, in his red microspikes. Doesn’t need a cape or superhuman strength – he just always strives to help whoever, whenever and wherever he can.

Keep safe in the snow and ice and buy a pair of Microspikes

Photo Challenge RED


Weekly Prompts : From the car

Thanks to the title of this challenge I am transported (ha,ha) back to our last car journey to South Devon on 1st September this year. From our home in Norfolk to our self catering accommodation the trip took an exhausting 9 hours!

From the M25 we would normally have taken the M4 then M5. However motorway signage advised us to avoid the M4. So we took the M3 instead….which in turn leads to the A303.  Ah, the country route.  Certainly not to be repeated if we can help it.

For some reason this view slowed everyone down and we crawled along for what seemed like forever.

Stonehenge on the horizon

Stonehenge from the passenger seat of our car

Stonehenge.  Prehistoric monument.  Wiltshire.  Reason for being built – Unknown.  Draws a good number of visitors from all over the world.  Quite impressive.  Close enough to the road to allow a reasonable photo from the car!


Photo Challenge From the Car

Clovelly to Minehead (Part 1) – South West Coast Path

The beginning of the end (almost!) – South West Coast Path

For those who are kindly following this blog I am sorry for not writing anything for months.  I hope the following makes up for this as I check my notes and go back to….

Two sunny weeks in May 2018

With 100 miles of walking scheduled by my trusty logistics co-ordinator and partner Tim it was going to be a tough challenge.  From charming Clovelly in North Devon (where we finished last September) to mysterious Minehead in Somerset.

Once again it was all new territory for both of us.

So, here is an account of the first of our 9 days of walking.  Otherwise know as ‘the flat estuary bits’.  Now you may think that these bits were easy but they were surprisingly hard on the feet as we followed The Tarka Trail for the first section.

Graffiti from old railway structure along the way

Day 1 – 11 miles, Westward Ho! to Instow

Bank Holiday Sunday – we parked the car at Instow and took a bus to Westward Ho!  Famed for being the only place in the country with an explanation mark it’s a village named after the 1855 book by Charles Kingsley.

Once off the bus we set off in mist, eager to get away from the touristy cafes selling chips, pasties and all things greasy along the sea front. Very soon we were away from that and could only hear a distant clanging of a church bell.

Pebbles and rounded stones sit at the top of the beach.

A golf course on our right (out of shot) had sheep laying on the fairway and golfers looking for lost balls amongst the gorse.  It was a curious hazy vision of strangeness.  It continued with ponies on the estuary a little further on.

The village of Appledore peaked out of the mist and the sun started to appear too. We decided this would be our coffee/lunch stop.  Just the slightest mention of food and drink and our pace quickens.

We reached the town and slowed down to take lots and lots of photos of these colourful houses.  As an old fishing village these were probably Fishermans cottages – now several looked to be holiday rentals.  Tim wondered where the people parked their cars – check out the double yellow lines….

Along the quayside at Appledore there were several inviting benches and small cafes.  We made our bench selection, bought coffee, ate our sandwiches and enjoyed the view across to Instow.  Wow, we were on holiday!

Our lunch stop

From here we could see Instow, our destination, looking quite close.  To get to it we had to follow the river estuary inland to Bideford, cross a bridge and walk back along the otherside.

Instow – looking quite close

We loved Appledore – it was hard to leave, but leave we did.  Initially we followed a road then a footpath and soon had our first views of old boats left abandoned in the mud.  Abandoned?  Well may be not all of them….

We saw many boats like this along the way

In amongst a wood we heard some moody jazz music and wondered, as it got louder and louder, where it was coming from.  We stopped in our tracks when we found out. This was somebody’s home and it looked like the perfect retreat.

The ‘jazz’ boat

We stared like small children.  Reluctantly we moved on once the occupier, who had been tending to his plants, spotted us and it was too rude to continue looking.

From here we walked through more trees reaching the outskirts of Bideford.  The town has two bridges – a new one (edge of town) and an old one (in the town).  We headed for the old one but took photos of the new one which had new houses built right below it.

After this we approached a park where a rugby tournament for youngsters was taking place.  My 9 year old nephew was also away from home for a few days taking part in a ‘mini’ rugby tournament in Somerset – coincidence or maybe it’s that time of the year?

Just before crossing the old bridge there was a small sculpture of Tarka the Otter.  A book about the life of an otter by Henry Williamson.  I’m sorry to say that I’ve not read it but there’s still time!

On the other side of the river we joined the Tarka Trail.  A cycle/walking trail of just over 32 miles named after the infamous otter.  We found it to be full of families out cycling all enjoying the sunshine and a bit of healthy exercise.

On the Tarka Trail

After marching along for a couple of miles or so we had Instow insight. In the photo below you can just see Appledore (our lunch stop) on the left.

Instow – almost there now

More and more cyclists as we got closer.

Once we reached  Instow we felt like we’d missed the start of a party.  It was heaving with cyclists.

Cyclists and pub at Instow

We sat on the quay and enjoyed the late afternoon sun before heading back to our rented cottage.

Day 2 – 16 miles – Braunton to Instow

May Bank Holiday, it’s a Monday and we were back in Instow.  This time we were waiting for a bus going in the opposite direction so that we could start our walk from Braunton.

Where was our bus?  Tim checked his watch (again).  We both checked the timetable (again).  Where the heck is that bus?  Then, out of the mist the bus finally appeared.  Phew.

Actually I was surprised it was running at all on a Bank Holiday.

Our journey took us to Braunton via the town of Barnstable.  Unexpectedly at Barnstable we were all told to get off and onto another bus.  Apparently there was a problem with the ‘late’ bus – ah that’s why it was late……

Braunton is apparently the largest village in England but it looked like a town to me.  Very quickly, after getting directions at the Tourist Office, we were on the Tarka Trail (coast path) with the early morning mist disappearing.

At first we were in amongst the trees then the view of the river estuary opened up.

Tim on the Tarka Trail

Today we saw many more boats in the mud.  The one in the photo above looked particularly tipsy.

We picked up the pace and marched to Barnstable.

Barnstable, like Bideford, has a slick modern bridge (on the edge of town) and an older bridge (in the town).  At the new bridge we paused to consult our map.  We had a long chat about whether we should follow the signs over this new bridge or take a route which was suggested on the map.  We followed the sign over the new road bridge sharing the pavement with cyclists whizzing past us.  Pleased to be on the other side we turned away from the busy road and onto the path alongside the estuary.

More cyclists on this side, some coming straight out of Barnstable, and even a family on roller skates.

A moment without cyclists

Lunchtime.  We stopped at a very handy bench with a view back across the estuary and the bridge we’d crossed.

Setting off again we came across a concrete structure that looked like it could have been a shelter for railway workers.  Some artistic graffit artists had been at work on each side….let’s call this place ‘no where’.

Running to catch up with Tim after taking photos is quite normal these days! Tim knows how many miles we have to do.  Still I am forever taking photos of him walking away!

The next stop was Fremington Quay.  The cafe here was doing a roaring trade – obviously a popular stopping place for all the cyclists, roller skaters and us.  Wow was it busy.

A busy place on a sunny Bank Holiday in early May

After taking a short rest here we were back onto our sore feet.  Our feet don’t usually suffer when we are walking – must be all that flat, hard surface.

Nearing Instow the coastal path turns away from the Tarka Trail so that it runs closer to the estuary.  It was nice to get onto a grassy path again.  Here there were old structures that looked like derelict piers and more boats left high and dry.  As the mist started to reappear there was a certain charm about them.

More graffiti

We passed a family having a barbecue round an open fire, then a cricket pitch, a car park, cafe ‘The Glorious Oyster’ then into Instow itself still busy in the misty sunshine.

At the car we were pleased to take our boots off and change into our crocs.