It’s been a long time since I pitched the tent. This year’s pandemic put down my plan to ride the Alps again, but the bug needed feeding. I had a few friends asking me to plan a trip, and as last year I left North Devon and Cornwall wanting to get back, it was easy to find a destination. This year with another four mates, south west, here we go!
North Devon & Cornwall 2020
Due to Covid19 it wasn’t easy to find a campsite or hotel, most were fully booked or closed for safety reasons, but after an extensive research from Bruno and Sofia we managed to book three camping sites in advance. (The only option available, to book ahead which goes against my style). We would stay three nights in Wadebrige, three nights in Penzance and two nights in Watermouth.
As usual, before any road trip it is extremely important to service the machine in order to reduce the risk of being stranded on the road. My luggage gear isn’t in new condition anymore, so before setting up the luggage I had to inspect that bags, bungee straps, cargo nets and hooks are still in good condition. I also replaced my older tent the Vango Alpha 300 for three people for the new Vango Alpha 400, with an announced four people capacity.
Tic tac tic tac the clock was ticking… I was anxious to be on the road again!!!
Took me six days to arrive in Saint Ives, (north west Cornwall), but before talking about that, let´s go back in time and start from the beginning!!!
Clevedon to Lynmouth
It was a warm morning and from London to Bristol there´s not much to say… I got caught in the usual congestion on the M25, followed by the boring 50 mph average speed control on the M4 until Slough as the smart motorway is being built, and then all the way west towards the M5 that goes to Exeter.
I had never been to Clevedon and as my brother had just moved there, it was a good opportunity to visit him and this coastal old town. It is quite picturesque and scenic with excellent views over Wales on the other side of the Severn river estuary. Clevedon has the second biggest tidal rise and fall in the world, where the water can go down to 14.5 meters, and therefore strong river currents are common. The coast line is quite pretty with big extensions of sand/soft mud during the low tide.
We went for a swim by the river at a pool/lake on the estuary, the water is quite brownish due to its muddy bottom, however the quality is good despite its aspect. I recommend sandals if you are to enter the water, or you might feel a disgusting spongy bottom. Still, it is safe, as long as you are careful.
Felt great to be out of London and away from my daily routine.
Later my brother and I did a little barbecue on a little cove beach just by were he lives, which was great! In a way I envy him to be living by the sea away from the city chaos, but I am happy for him as he loves it!
I woke up next morning with Saint Ives in my mind, everybody kept on tell me it is a fantastic town. It was a bit cloudy and warm, which makes the riding pleasant, so after breakfast I left Clevedon and headed towards North Devon. The A39 seemed to be quite scenic on the map, I started following it. Such a disappointment, it was all uninteresting, busy and nothing especial until Minehead, then it all changed. Less traffic density, more rural with the coast not far at all. The road also became more interesting, hilly and twisted.
My first stop was Porlock Weir, a small old settlement in west Somerset around a harbor. It is a pretty spot for a stop to appreciate the coast and the old harbor. There is a little museum, a hotel and a few restaurants. Probably a few interesting foot paths as well but I did not explore these.
I left Porlock Wier and re joined the A39, it was beautiful all around, but the road required some skill (If you are inexperienced I do not recommend you to take this route). Had to deal with a very steep section and a couple tight hairpins whilst going up hill, but once on the top the view was spectacular!!! I was then in the North Devon district and Exmoor! One word to describe it, AWESOME! (I did not take pictures of the hairpins or recorded them as sadly I had no battery on my GoPro camera.)
This was just the beginning and I was loving it, “Sophia” has an appetite for bends, hairpins and good tarmac… I was just delighted with the sight seeings and enjoying the road like nothing else matters in life… what a good feeling, all seemed to make sense, in harmony, and all that together means, therapy to me!!!!
A lighthouse was marked in the map as point of interest, but had no idea how to get there, so after entering a private farm and being politely kicked out, I was directed correctly to the “Foreland Point Lighthouse”. The road to get there, if you can call it a road, was scary… asphalted but very narrow and incredibly steep with tight hairpins, and as if it wasn´t enough, with gravel on bends. (Not for the inexperienced for sure or you could end up at the bottom, in the sea).
It was worth it!!! what a beautiful place!!!
Saint Ives was still on my mind and I wasn´t doing progress at all. All around was pretty and the road just intense making me to stop all the time just to enjoy the views. I was on the A39 again getting close to Lynmouth. In my mind it was just another town I was about to pass, however the moment I started going down Countisbury Hill, I had to stop again as it was too beautiful to keep on going.
The moment I arrived in Lynmouth I decided, I would spend at least a day around a day just to enjoy the place. It is too beautiful to be ignored.
First things first, I was hungry! I went to a coffee shop (The Bake House Cafe) to have a snack and met Hayley, the nicest waitress you can come across. Very friendly and smiley all the time. The food was great too. She told me all the places I should visit in Lynmouth, such as the Watersmeet, the Glen Lyn Gorge, the footpaths around, the beach and the sunset, and especially she insisted that I should visit The Valley Of Rocks. (thank you Hayley!) All in all Lynmouth is a great place to spend a couple days or holidays.
It was time to find a camping to pitch the tent, so after a little research at the information center I ended up going to theChanel View Caravan and Camping Park, a couple miles away from Lynmouth. I read in some reviews that this campsite is a bit pricey and the terrain not so good. Well, I can´t complain, I paid £7 per night for a tent and motorbike. It has good clean facilities (however toilets could benefit some updating), loads of electricity access points and tap water. The terrain was good and easy to pitch the tent, in a quiet location and away from the noise, there is a pub just next to it if you want to enjoy a pint and a little mini market at the entrance in case you need some essentials. Overall, it is a good spacious campsite offering great views over Lynmouth and the Bristol Channel, ideal for a couple nights.
As I was recommended, I had to check Valley of the Rocks just after Lynton. It´s one of the most amazing places I ever seen in the South West. Basically it´s a valley that runs parallel to the dramatic Devon coast, it is quite popular but not crowded and it is famous also for the existence of wild goats in the area. Definitely I recommend you to visit it independently if you are by motorbike or car.It is such a spectacular spot, either to walk the footpaths or just to enjoy the nature and scenery around, not forgetting the twisty roads around able to put a grin in every biker out there.
Here´s a little video about Lynmouth and Valley of the rocks :
Later on, I went back to Lynmouth to do a kind of picnic by the beach and relax while there was still some daylight before heading back to the camping. What a great day!!!!
And so that was my first day in North Devon… would I get to saint Ives the next day?
Well, you have to wait for the next post to find out!!!!
Thanks for reading!!!
Note:Routes in the maps and routes section if you plan on doing a similar trip.