The Pig Yard

North Devon 2006...

Holiday Locations

Our annual February holiday should have been in the Mumbles area of South Wales but the property we'd booked turned out to be unavailable and so accommodation was found in North Devon at Hartland Point.

The usual suspects: Graham & Sue; Nick & Val; Martin & Kate and ourselves travelled down in separate cars to a remote farm near to Hartland Point. We had to travel for four miles down single track roads to get to the house so it was fairly remote.

Considering it was February the weather was very kind and we didn't get wet all week although it was overcast on a couple of days. We had a great week, eating and drinking too much. There was also plenty of humour and lively conversation.

On arrival at the house we had a quick look round and then drew lots for the different bedrooms. We got the bedroom upstairs which thankfully had a double bed and a bathroom next door. All the other bedrooms had en-suite bathrooms but some had twin beds. The house had the living room, dining room and kitchen in a big hall on the left and the majority of the bedrooms were on the right wing with an entrance hall in the front. There was plenty of room for dirty boots in the entrance.

The first morning we were greeted by blue skies and the forecast was for a this to continue all day. We were far from being the first up but Jane went out with Kate to get the Sunday papers whilst everyone else had breakfast and Steve eventually hauled himself out of bed muttering excuses about working hard and deserving a lie-in.

It didn't take long for Jane to start a holiday romance with Hank. She was very blatant and made no attempt to hide her assignations, often taking carrots as an enticement. Hank would see Jane coming and make very loud heehaws that could be heard miles away.

It seems Hank was very lonely and he had this large field all to himself. Normally he shared his field with sheep but they were all of lambing leaving Hank very isolated. Someone from the farm came down every evening to collect him and take him back to his stall in the main farm buildings so he was a very pampered donkey.

The North Devon coastline is very rugged and is famous for the number of ships wrecked on its hard, black rocks. We walked from the house along the coastal path to Hartland Point lighthouse. Apparently every lighthouse has its own colours and flash rate - this one flashed 6 times and then waited for 10 seconds before starting its flashes again. We even walked to the coast by moonlight one night just to watch the light flashing.

Despite this being in place since the mid 1800s there have been numerous shipwrecks, one of which was right beneath the lighthouse itself when merchant vessel Johanna was washed onto the rocks in 1968. A rusting hulk is still visible below the cliffs. One can only imagine this was as a result of engine failure or pure incompetence because the lighthouse would've been a clue to the impending danger.

Here's the usual crew. We had just walked alongside a beautiful, sparkling stream in a dingley dell with snowdrops sprinkled liberally along the banks of the stream.

Everyone is smiling at this point unaware that just around the next hedge was a steep, muddy track up to the road.

The sun shone the whole time we were walking and we had to undo coats and loosen clothing to cool us down.

The weather wasn't brilliant everyday and despite Monday looking decidedly gloomy we went for a walk on our own from the house down to xxxxxxx where there was a fantastic church with the tallest tower in North Devon. The stain glass windows depicted King Arthur, King Harold of Battle of Hastings fame and King Alfred of the burn cakes episode. It turns out that Hartland was at some point important to the Kings of England.

From here we walked down the Hartland Quay where we had lunch and coffee before heading down to the waterfall and the beach below. After going up hill and down dale along the coastal path we were quite tired by the time we got back to the house.

The pannier market at Bideford has roots going back through centuries as its name implies. We assume that 200 years ago traders turned up at the market on Tuesday's and Saturdays with their horses and panniers either side bulging with home grown products and items for trade.

Nowadays aged folk bring along second hand books, bric-a-brac, local grown, organic produce, duck and chicken eggs and paintings by local artists. We wandered around for a couple of hours, raising hopes but not spending a great deal of money.

We drove up the coast to an area called Brownsham, parked up in a National Trust car park and walked to Clovelly. The idea was to follow the short footpath to the village and then those who felt fit enough would walk the long route back along the coast after lunch.

After about thirty minutes we took a wrong turn and ended up walking along tracks which were in fact private. Eventually we got back on the right path but it was a long detour. Clovelly itself is a lovely village built on the side of the cliff with steep paths but no roads for vehicles. The few residents have to bring everything in and out on sleds. If they used wheeled carts there would always be the risk that they would run away if let go, sledges stay where they are.

We all decided that beautiful as it was, the prospect of not being able to bring a vehicle to the front door and tourists peering in your windows during the summer months, meant this was not somewhere we'd want to live.

A coastline of folds, rock layers and geological delights. Over the eons the land has uplifted and folded to give some wonderful patterns. It also happens to make walking the coast a series of considerable ups and downs.

In the sea breeze it was frequently bracing and certainly blew away the cobwebs from work.

Jane's regular feeding of Hank also caught the interest of Frankie who was literally in your face. Frankie wanted your attention and would do anything to get it including sticking his nose in your ear.

Jane managed to push a carrot at Hank and satisfy Frankie's desperate need to be noticed - in fact it was impossible to ignore him.

Go Top