Dwight Peck's personal website
summer 2003 -- A few weeks in Devon and Cornwall
like mid-19th century solicitors from a Dickens novel, or a maker of sweets, but
they're two north Devon venues well worth a visit. And here we are in the autumn
may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
goes shopping on the Lynmouth high street on a rainy day in late October 2003.
(Bought gloves. Then lost one of them.) -- This place
must be a madhouse in summer, but now all the boutiques are staying open just
fleet of Lynmouth: times have changed -- they knew the fish stocks were nearly
gone but couldn't have guessed that the ocean would depart as well.
on a drizzly autumn day. This town took a bad hit in 1962 when a flash flood came
down one of the ravines above the town and washed the inhabitants out to sea,
but lots of charming architecture remains and the people stocks have been re-established.
breakwater and little tower on it
boats queue up, as only British boats can do so politely, and wait for the tide.
Selworthy church, cared for by the National Trust. In fact, the National Trust
apparently owns the whole town. Including the tea room.
views of the Selworthy church, and the graveyard, where the dead folks gather
15th century Selworthy
church, with its 14th century tower. They've got a 12th century baptismal font in there.
of the National Trust properties, which include a cute little tea room which conceives
of the phrase "ham sandwich" in hors d'oeuvre terms, with a toothpick
in it, but at ham sandwich prices.
Beacon, the local high point at 308m altitude, heart of the Exmoor Forest coastline
in Somerset not far west of Minehead.
Point near Porlock, with vicious little rain squalls hurtling down the Bristol
Channel from the north, soon to join our hiking party.
companion Kristin above Hurtstone Point
Down from Hurtstone Point
Rain squall arriving
squall upon us. Now for a drippy sort of march back through the forest above
Allerford to Selworthy. And then a nice pub dinner with the Tims.
that was fun.
Goodbye to the Tims of Berrynarbor, who were headed to Switzerland for holidays
even as we vacated their guest room and wended southwestward
along the coast of Devon.
Past Barnstaple, still on the wrong side of the road,
and past Bideford, a resonant name in naval history.
here we are, still on the wrong side of the road, in the West Country, bound for
Golden Park, with a stop at vertical Clovelly, where Charles Kingsley irritated
people as a lad.
Kingsley slept here!
is a vertical town, built right the way from the pastures on top down about 200m
to the water's edge. It's so quaint and charming that it's probably a living hell
at midsummer! But on a rainy day in October, the place is OURS.
the Clovelly breakwater down there, with the hotel on the left. This won't be
good for the knees but it's got to be done.
the way, though you may frequently have had to pay big entrance fees to visit
DisneyWorld, the Regents Park Zoo, and the Nude Art exhibition in Berlin, you
may still be surprised to find that Clovelly is one of the few towns in the world
that requires you to post a certain sum just to walk down the street.
true, however, that Charles Kingsley slept here, and apparently came here as a
child or something like that. There's a Charles Kingsley House, too, but we couldn't
find it, though we weren't really trying too hard.
who's Charles Kingsley then? Well you may ask. He
was an under-rated middle linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings in the late 1960s.
No, he wasn't; he was a Victorian clergyman and novelist who's probably best known
for the execrable Water Babies, a perennial
sentimental favorite with people we don't want to know. He also wrote the jingoistic
adventure novel Westward Ho! about the local
16th Century Devon and Cornwall seamen who explored the New World and whupped
the Spanish Armada, etc., etc., full of rousing action and local color and extremely
mean-spirited portraits of some very fine people who happened to be Catholics
at the time. But so popular a novel was it that just north of Bideford there is
now a holiday town filled with tacky vacation accommodations (and a few fine old
buildings now in terminal disrepair) which is named -- Westward
hotel in Clovelly, on a rainy day in October 2003, lobster traps piled high on
Clovelly pier and the boats, and its little bit of beach. Where Charles Kingsley
once skipped stones as a mean-spirited lad.
on a grey day, looking up from the pier. Charles Kingsley used to roam all over
these vertical little streets as a boy, at the weekends, and then go back to Oxford
to study his mean-spirited theology.
have lunch in the hotel there. Good soup (turnips!). And then we'll motor on,
on the wrong side of the road, to Golden Park.
a nice week that's been! and now we're going farther
along down the north Devon coast to the Cornwall border, to study whether the
rest of the pubs down this way are as wonderful as the ones we've seen so far,
visit a pig farm and Sir Walter Raleigh's quay and the birthplace/final resting
place of King Arthur, and sleep in a bed with a big canopy over it. This
way and no crowding please.
Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 22 November 2003, revised 21 September 2008, 13 May 2013, 9 March 2021.