The other evening on our trip to the Beaver Inn Betty, the friend of Lynnie’s Uncle Derrick, was telling me all about how she was from a fishing family and her grandfather came from Buck’s Mills.
The same evening Lynnie’s Cousin David talked about Peppercombe and what a lovely walk it was between the two. Having never heard of either place we decide to follow the recommendation and make it our destination for today’s walk.
Buck’s Mills is just a short drive along the A39 or “Atlantic Highway” as it is known in these parts. I can just about understand the Atlantic bit (although technically I think we are alongside the Bristol Channel), but highway it is not. Firstly it bends and weaves its way through villages and secondly it has one of the poorest surfaces of any ‘A’ road that I have travelled on in a long while. But I suppose the “Bristol Channel Pothole Ridden Road” does not have quite the same marketing ring to it.
At Buck’s Cross we take a right turn and follow the lane down to Buck’s Mills where there is a free car park. Out of the car park we turn right and head down into the village. This is an attractive little village, with no pretence to try and cash in on its beauty. There is not even a sign of a tearoom or ice cream shop. Obviously the local’s have not been to neighbouring Clovelly!
There is hardly a soul here and it is a fascinating place. There is an information board providing some local history. Apparently back in 1598, Richard Cole of Woolfardisworthy, thought to be the ‘Old King Cole’ of the nursery rhyme, built a harbour here to provide shelter for cargo ships.
As we look out to sea there is a pebble bank, known as The Gore, on our right stretching out towards Lundy Island, through the forces of nature the pebbles from this bank make their way to join the pebble bank at Northam Burrows.
Betty told me that her family name was Braund and that her grandfather was known as the ‘King of Buck’s. During the 1800’s the Braund family made up the majority of the population of the village and there is a house in the village built by the Braund’s known as King’s Cottage.
As blog followers will know Freddy’s like a limekiln and on the beach at Buck’s Mill’s there are two. The smaller one to the west would be enough to satisfy me, but the structure on the east is impressive.
Having had a good wander around taking lots of photographs it is time to get walking. Our route is straightforward; we walk up from the beach and take the sign for the Coastal Path on our left. This path has steps and quickly climbs (short hand for “it is a ferocious climb”) above the village and the cliffs. My Sunnto Traverse had said that we were at -9.8 feet when we were on the beach. The minus must have been because of the low tide. The climb up to the top of the cliff registered at over 450 feet. No wonder we were both puffing a bit!
I am not keen on coastal paths because of their tendency to get close to cliff edges, but this is fine because we are walking along the top of Worthygate Wood. The only hazard we encounter is mud. This is obviously a popular route and the recent heavy rain has made it slippery and in sections very muddy. So we make slow progress. Ever since Lynnie broke her leg in 2012 she has been cautious on slippery ground, reinforced by a nasty fall walking in the North York Moors in 2014. Occasionally a gap in the trees provides stunning views along the coast.
After passing through Sloo Wood we start to descend into Peppercombe and then down to the beach. This is a stunning beach, not a soul around. After the trudge to get here we take a while to appreciate the isolation and beauty of the spot.
There is not much to Peppercombe it is a collection of cottages owned by the National Trust. On leaving the beach we walk back up towards the signs for the coastal path, which of course goes both east and west, we take neither, but carry straight on up the track keeping a stream to our right.
This is a long steady climb up the valley, at the top we go through a gate and walk alongside the Coach and Horse pub into Horns Cross. It is tempting to pop in for a pint, but we still have a way to go and the clock is ticking.
We cross over and follow the lane opposite side before picking up a footpath leading us through West Goldworthy farmyard. From here we continue to Bunkhole where the footpath divides. We turn left and then within a hundred yards take a path that goes right, over a footbridge, we go uphill across a couple of fields and then join a track leading into the village of Parkham.
Entering the village we turn right and then right again following the lane down towards Broad Parkham. At the crossroads we go straight over and walk uphill, as the road bends we join a track to our right that takes us through a farmyard with farm shop. I make the mistake of saying what a cracking old drove this is.
It starts off as a good solid stone drove and is fine as we climb the hill, admittedly there is the occasional muddy bit, but nothing to worry about. As we start descending the track narrows and becomes increasingly boggy and challenging. I get the distinct impression that this walk will not feature in Lynnie’s top 100 walks of the year!
We descend, gradually, keeping straight on where there is another track leading off to the left and eventually reach the A39. Here we go straight across and then shortly take a footpath on the left. This path leads across the top of a marshy field, there is an electric fence between sheep and us and for some stupid reason both Crosby and Dexter want to walk as close to the fence as possible. Back at home Crosby has had a couple of zaps so I would have thought he would have learnt to keep well clear of fences.
After crossing another field we reach Lower Worthygate Farm and at a junction of paths turn left following the footpath through the yard. After walking along the edge of a field we enter woodland and gradually descend. The birds are singing and it is wonderful walking first above the stream but soon joining it.
It is nearly dusk when we reach the car. I have been keeping an eye on our progress, a seasoned walker I always carry a torch and whistle just in case. My rucksack also contains a Mars Bar, bottle of water, bite cream, compass, various other medications, clothing for all weather, walking poles and enough dog chews for the boys to survive for three days. It weighs a ton, but hopefully I will never be caught out!
We have covered just over 7 miles, solid walking with a number of good climbs and some stunning views. We both agree that it was well worth the effort, but will want a dry spell before tackling this walk again.
9th April 2016
[To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 126 – Clovelly and Hartland]
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2016)