Often when there is a severe weather warning it turns out to be a false alarm. We can all speculate as to why this is, but many will suggest it goes back to Michael Fish telling us not to worry in 1987 when some said storms were on the way. Anyway, the forecast today is for high winds hitting the North Devon coast.
I don’t possess a windsock, the nearest thing I can conjure up to assess wind speed is the angle of the dogs ears as they face the wind. We take a step out of the Coachman and Crosby’s ears are flapping like Jumbo. Dexter takes the older wiser dog approach of looking for any shelter available.
I have always held with the old adage that there is no point in getting older if you don’t get wiser. Wise men do not go walking in the woods on a windy day. This is a very windy day and I know that there is not a tree to be seen on Northam Burrows. So this will be the location for today’s jaunt.
We are conveniently placed at Seabreeze CL with the Burrows only a few minutes walk away. Indeed the view from the Coachman is over this expanse of land. Sat in the caravan buffeted by the wind we thought we were bearing the brunt of the storm. However, as soon as we step onto the Burrows and get the full force of the wind we know it is a day to hang onto your bonnet.
Northam Burrows is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and apparently is a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. I am not sure what this means, I would describe it as a cracking spot. There is an abundance of wildlife and the scenery is ever changing, with sections being under water at high tide.
The whole area covers 253 hectares, and is a combination of coastal plain, salt marsh and sand dunes. Being wise and old, I judge that it would be sensible to walk into the wind away from the coast and walk back across the sand dunes with the wind at our backs. There are certain things a boy learns early on, a key one being; keep the wind at your back!
We follow the line of the river Pill and on reaching the tarmac road alongside the Royal North Devon Golf Club clubhouse we turn right and follow the line of the road. This brings us to the seafront and the sand is being blown from the dunes. Yesterday when we were here the sea was relatively calm, today it is ferocious and the waves are crashing against the pebbles and blowing spray over us.
As we turn the corner of the Estuary of the Rivers Taw and Torridge we spot wind and kite surfers enjoying the high winds. I have not attempted either of these sports, I once tried to get on a sailboard but it bucked and threw me off. As a nipper a similar thing happened on a horse, I have never ventured on either since.
The folk out on the water appear to have mastered the art; either that or they are just hanging on for dear life.
It is great to watch and I am sure exhilarating to do, but the days, if they ever existed, when I might have tried something like this are long past.
It is time to head back to the Coachman and make sure that all is secure, a windy night is forecast. My Suunto Traverse gives our wander around the Burrows as just over four miles. We have only been around half of it, which just goes to show the scale of this place.
To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey Map Explorer Map 139 – Bideford, Ilfracombe and Barnstaple.
6th April 2016
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2016)