Over the Border - Part Two
After quite a full-on but incredible start to my walking holiday in North Devon, day two was where I truly found my footing - quite literally - and established myself more into our group. After spending an entire day on the coast alongside everyone, we started finding things in common and created spiels of conversation which meant we went from strangers to friends overnight.
As previously mentioned in my first blog of this series, joining a walking group and/or a guided walking holiday such as the one I was fortunate to join in partnership with the Ramblers Walking Holidays, can really create and form friendships almost immediately. When you spend morning, noon, and night together, you have condensed spells of quality time where conversations can flow easier than they would if you were to meet someone for the first time and spend only snippets of time with them across a month.
I certainly felt this with some of the group and struck up an almost instantaneous friendship where I saw myself opening up quite candidly. On waking up on day two, I was excited to head downstairs and greet my fellow hikers where we would fill our bellies with a yummy breakfast in preparation for another full day of exploring the Devonshire coast together.
Hike Day Two: Woolacombe to Ilfracombe
Well well well, the forecast for day two's hike was a tad incorrect…thankfully! What was meant to be relentless rain for most of our day, ended up being a couple of small showers, and thankfully, arriving back to the hotel with no wet items to drape across the small towel radiator in my bathroom.
Today's hike certainly ramped up a few notches, with the ascents/descents being considerably tougher. This walking holiday is graded a no.6 on the RWH scale so, steep hills and long descents are to be expected and thanks to all my rambles back in Cornwall, my legs were fairly used to this kind of terrain.
Starting at Woolacombe, where we ended the first day's walk, we made our way to the coast path towards Morthoe and Morte Point, and it wasn’t long before sweat formed across the brow and breathing got slightly heavier! I definitely felt the burn on this walk but by using my walking pole, having wonderful people around me, and enjoying interesting conversations, it wasn’t hard to keep me going! And reaching the top of each ascent was truly rewarding.
Gorgeous tufts of heather littered the coastline, with the lush earthy greens of the ferns giving a Jurassic feel to this spectacular corner of Devon. No matter how steep the hills or slippery the rocks, I was in my element. And the great thing about a guided walking holiday with RWH is that it isn't a race to the top or the finish line.
Like my Cornish Ramblings rambles back home, we tend to get up a good pace where we can, but no one is left behind and there is always plenty of time to catch your breath. And this is what I enjoyed about walking with the Ramblers Walking Holidays back in July - I didn't feel like I had to pretend if I was struggling or if I had to take a puff of my inhaler to aid me on a descent. Everyone had their own limits yet everyone supported each other to the end. Having a group to encourage me also meant I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and could do a lot more than what I'd previously thought I was capable of or gave myself credit for.
Bull Point and Lee Bay
After defeating a never-ending uphill zigzag and feeling fabulous at the top, we made our way towards Bull Point and the lighthouse. Here, we took a few snaps and decided to carry on another 30-mins towards Lee Bay, where we would stop to refuel and rest.
Bull Point Lighthouse is about one mile north of the village of Mortehoe and provides a visual aid to the villages of Mortehoe, Woolacombe, and Ilfracombe, warning of the inhospitable and rocky coast that lines the area.
Lee Bay reminds me of a mix between Durgan and Readymoney Cove back in Cornwall, and it was the most idyllic lunch spot. Some of the group wandered into the village whilst me and a few others decided to stay by the water, and sat on the beach enjoying our food and views of the water lapping at the causeway.
Lee Bay is a small village situated on the rugged stretch of coast between Ilfracombe and Woolacombe, which includes Bull Point (with its lighthouse) and Morte Point, both notorious for shipwrecks in earlier times. This peaceful village can be found at the foot of what is known locally as the Fuchsia Valley, and consists of around 100 mostly oldy-worldy properties, and is only a stone's throw away from the sea.
You will only find a pub, post office, and shop in Lee Bay and when we turned up, there were only a handful of other people exploring and enjoying this village. A perfect place to stop.
The last 3.5-miles of this 10-mile hike was slightly gentler - once we’d dragged ourselves up a mile of road that went up and up and up - and took us to Torrs Park and a beautiful downhill zigzag to Capstone Point with delicious views of the sea.
Capstone Point is a mountain summit in the Ilfracombe to the Quantocks and Sidmouth region and is 48 metres high with a prominence of 40 metres. We certainly felt it!
After a full-on few hours of hiking, we finally reached our end destination; Ilfracombe. Throughout the day we had spoken about visiting the Damien Hirst sculpture and I was intrigued to see it after hearing mixed opinions from those who had seen it before - seems there were quite extreme views on how it made some people feel and I was very keen to check it out.
Verity is a 2012 stainless steel and bronze sculpture created by Damien Hirst and stands on the pier at a whopping 66.4 ft tall. As we walked towards it we were greeted with a striking pregnant woman carrying the scales of justice and holding aloft a sword which is quite powerful in itself. However, when you start walking around the sculpture, you begin to see how half of the statue shows the internal anatomy of the pregnant woman, with the foetus clearly visible.
It is visually quite disturbing but I could not stop staring at this incredible depiction of a pregnant woman, which Damien Hirst describes as a "modern allegory of truth and justice."
Have you visited Verity before? How did it make you feel?
After some of us had visited Verity and taken a mooch through the seaside town of Ilfracombe, we decided to meet the rest of the group in the pub. Here we had time to chug a well-deserved pint before being picked up at 5pm by the coach and whisked back to the hotel for a short rest before dinner at 7pm. By this point, we were all ravenous and ready for our three-course meal.
Day two was such a fabulous day and although it was definitely more challenging than day one, I certainly knew I had worked hard and felt so good because of it. We had some amazing views along this section of the South West Coast Path and we really got to see what Devon had to offer. I already couldn't wait for day three...
In this blog series, I will be sharing with you snippets from the seven days I spent in North Devon with Ramblers Walking Holidays, with part three coming soon. I will go into detail on each day spent out on the SWCP and give you a better insight into what you can expect on a guided walking holiday.
If you'd like to continue following my rambling journey in North Devon then be sure to keep an eye out on your inbox over the coming weeks. And don't forget to follow Cornish Ramblings on Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date with the latest shenanigans.