North Devon

Margaret Jones

Last updated at 10:45 02 July 2004

What happy memories the article on North Devon conjured up. Now in our seventies and unable to travel under our own steam, my husband remembered the anticipation and excitement of loading the Vauxhall Victor with the 2 children and elderly relatives and setting off at 4am to an unknown North Devon.

There were no motorways then, and the journey was an important part of the holiday.

We had been recommended to stay self-catering on a beautiful old working farm at Newton Tracy, about 3 miles from Barnstable.

As it turned out we continued using this farm as a base for all the future holidays we enjoyed in North Devon. We explored Hartland, and Hartland Quay, where we saw dolphins in the bay, and our children learned all about the rock pools, sea anemones, small fish and their shells.

Our very first exploration of the countryside took us to Clovelly. Travelling on that coastal road, just before we reached the village and set back into beautiful woodland, was a five-barred gate and a quaint old lodge, with a small notice inviting us to ring the bell chain.

We did, and the lodge keeper came out and for a small fee he opened the gate and invited us into Hobby Drive. What a joy, breath-taking views of wonderful woodland with just a track, and occasional glimpses of the bay.

It took us a long time to find this special drive, and the final part of it brought us out on the lane down into Clovelly, and happily usually by the ice-cream van of the renowned HOCKINGS!

Over the years we explored probably every inch of this area, and that is when we discovered Bucks Mills, having ventured down a narrow lane along from Clovelly.

After a pleasant walk following the little brook which gurgled on down to the rocky beach, we found several wooden houses stuck to the cliffside like limpets.

We were told that in years gone by, a Spanish Galleon had been shipwrecked on this wild and rocky coast, the sailors making it their home.

Probably it may seem rather sad to people who don't know the secrets of this coast, and who are looking for a busy time with lots of people and nightlife, the fact that our family in their turn took their children and the wrinklies back year after year, always finding something new, like Chittlehampton, a village like a Dickens novel or Lee Bay, where you could be the only people on the planet.

Unable to travel under our own steam now, I read all I can of the local history and how these lanes recall the marching feet of soldiers in the civil war, who made a stronghold of Torrington, and Judge Jeffries took his toll on the local people who supported the Royalist cause.

Thank you for stirring up all these memories of places and the people who discovered North Devon with us.

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