Clovelly to Instow – Day 7 of Romilly’s One Island Walk for Street Children

Rules are made to be broken aren’t they? At least this is what I thought to myself as I lingered over Jasper’s delicious breakfast: porridge, followed by bacon and eggs. Very good indeed. So entirely understandable.  But don’t you find that? You lay down the law, in this case about B and B’s not serving breakfast early enough and then life sets things up to make you look like a real hypocrite….at least that’s what I find.

It was very pleasant in Jasper’s kitchen and I would have liked to have stayed longer but I knew that I would pay for any delay….and I did.  But not at first. Jasper and Henry dropped me off where he had picked me up the night before and I made my way down to the Hobby Drive.

On the way I passed one of those traffic mirrors so perfect for selfies

Man's face in mirror in hedge

Rock with plaque to RAF CrewmenAnd then this very sad memorial to the crew of a Wellington which crashed on anti submarine patrol. The youngest of these boys was 21 when he died, the same age as Beatrice now. Even the captain was only 31, the same age as Rose.  I imagine it was foggy or dark and that they thought they were over water and at higher altitude. How terribly sad.

The Hobby Ride was built by Jasper’s ancestors.  It follows the contours about 1/6 th of the way down the cliffs and from time to time you have wonderful views of the sea.DSCF8612Looking down on Clovelly from the Hobby Ride.

DSCF8614Looking north along the coast from he Hobby Ride

DSCF8621After a while the drive or ride is left behind and you continue on the coast path, which is delightful here. You can glimpse the sea, but you are in the shade of the trees. Although I love the sea I find it strong and alien, the light is so bright, from distance it looks flat and hard and the line of the horizon is sharp. I’m drawn to it but I find it soothing to enter the cool green of the woods.  So I loved this part of the walk, glimpsing the intense blue from the cool, gentle green.

From Green Cliff I walked across country to Bideford. I hesitated at the crossroad at Abbotsham.  Behind me a voice said,

‘Don’t you drop that there Kevin. This in’t a public dump.’

I turned round to see a huge red haired man whose torso was covered in tattoes. In front of him was a white convertible full of small children one of which, a girl, was holding a small black spaniel and another of which must have been Kevin. I don’t usually ask the way for various reasons, which I will give later, but this time I did. ‘What is the shortest  way into Biddeford from here?’

‘Thart depends. Which way you want?  The way the crow flies or the way the duck flies?’

The children were looking up at me with interest and one or two of the vikings fellow crew men, who had appeared from nowhere, were looking at me with expectant grins.  It sounded to me as if this was a prime case for my rule of not asking directions. On the whole, though I thought that taking the duck option would be asking for trouble.  ‘The way the crow flies’ I said quickly. With some relief I saw that it was the right answer for though the crew men laughed, ‘Heh, Heh’, they did so in a disappointed way.

‘Well the way the crow flies is to take that next right there and then go straight and straight and straight and straight not turning left or right and then you’ll get to Bideford.’ And so it was, but I did wonder as I plodded on, what way the duck went.  Actually, I felt like a bit of a duck. Not exactly waddling but something like it. Hobbling. So a duck with a hobbled waddle.

At Bideford I had instructions to call Johnny. He was pleased to hear from me. ‘It sounds as if you’ve only got another three miles’, he said. I was heading up the Tarka Trail to Barnstable which was my target for the day.  I had a cup of tea in the hotel where a group of Londoners was settling in for a week end of football, and spread out my map.  I had been on a fold. Funny but that looked like quite a lot more than 3 miles. As I joined the foot path there was a sign. ‘Barnstable 9 miles.’  9 miles!  I’d better get a move on.  I was paying for that late start with Jasper.  In the end I called Johnny and we agreed to meet at Instow, about 3 miles on.  I would have to make up the six miles tomorrow.

Daisies, sea, estuary, boats, Instow,Tarka TrailLooking north from the Tarka Trail towards Instow

I liked Instow and I liked walking along the Tarka Trail.  It used to be a railway line. I felt that it would have been better to have been one now.  The line is paved with tarmac and for some reason there is nothing, but nothing, harder to walk on than tarmac. It is very tiring. Flat but tiring, and hammers the joints.

At Instow I waited for Johnny down by the front. On the other side of the wall there was a beach and just beside the sea wall a young family. At first I thought that they must be Eastern European with their strange their accents. I was curious and couldn’t resist asking where they were from.

‘Biremingham..I expect you can tell from the accent’. So that was it. I asked them where they lived. They’d moved to Devon. I was amazed. They had moved near to Winkleigh, in the middle of nowhere from Birmingham. ‘Aye, and where we live is even more in the middle of nowhere than Winkleigh, but at least some people have heard of Winkleigh.’  They had three children under 7. They had both found jobs. He was a factory hand setting up as a decorator and she was a carer. We had a nice chat. I wish I had taken their name so that I could have given their telephone number for the decorating.  They were obviously hard working, but what could have persuaded them to leave Birmingham for a part of the country with such feeble employment prospects and so much unemployment?  I wish I’d asked. I wished them luck.DSCF8659Young man with young family from Birmingham settled in Devon: enterprising, hardworking decorator.

Johnny picked me up and took me back to his house for a delicious supper with Rose, and Tim and Lizzie Drake who were joining me for the next day. But somehow I had to make up those six miles.

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