Hope you enjoy a few words and snaps of recent wanderings in a largely forgotten part of the South Western English coast - a quick roll down to the mouth of the river Otter in Devonshire to revisit a place which we 1st went to about 20 years ago when SuYin was pre-teen, and very keen on the 'Pooh Bear' books of A A Milne.
The campsite we went to is unchanged, still called Pooh Cottage - a quiet traditional site, no supermarkets, disco, bar, etc - just 2 showers and 6 electrical hook-ups in a big field with lotsa nearly tame rabbits grazing on the edges. Just a perfect setting for Milne's characters to have their adventures.
We walked a lot, 10 miles on one day and 8 the next - I developed a blister on my right little toe - time to get some new walking boots or maybe a new toe! Its a quiet part of the world with lots of retired folk staying in the little seaside town of Budleigh Salterton - about half and hour's walk from the campsite. Sir Walter Raleigh, the famous English seaman, 'legal pirate' and explorer was born just across the hills in East Budleigh. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Walter_Raleigh)
We ate dinners at the local pub - just 10 minutes walk from our campsite, great regional beer and very strong (8%) cider. Good home cooking and lots of local yokels to chat with about important local goings-on.........."the fox took three of Martin's chickens last night, etc".
Before setting off on our coastal walks, we first stopped by at what looked like the best traditional butcher in Budleigh and bought pies and pasties baked on the premises to eat along the way. Another important 'pause' was at a neighbouring bookshop to get an Ordinance Survey 4 cm:1km map (which didn't stop us losing our way in a few places!) and then headed Westward down the South West Coastal Path, stopping along the way when Chris painted and sketched.
The weather changed as it often does on this coastline - sea mist, a splatter of rain, brilliant sunshine, clouds........all in the space an hour or so. We got lost trying to find our way across a golf course where the old pathways had got mingled with golfer's tracks. Pushing through the shrubbery along the edge of the course we were amazed at the number of wild Pheasants strolling around in and out of the bushes - I couldn't believe my eyes and wondered why they didn't feature on local menus more often - probably not Pheasant shooting season or maybe the golfers got them before the hunters.
After a late breakfast the next morning we walked down the beach and picked stones in the hazy sunshine - so many zillions of beautiful smooth stones and every one unique in shape and colour, diversity beyond belief!! This stretch of coastline has been made a World Heritage Site - the 'Jurassic Coast' ( http://www.jurassiccoast.com/ ), a heaven for fossil hunters. We pocketed a few choice stones and headed for the estuary of the River Otter towards Otter's Point which took us up the river bank and swampy delta which is a heaven for wild fowl, ducks and migratory birds. After a few miles the scenery changed - farms, rolling hills, little tracts of woodland with old oaks, maybe 300 years old clinging on the side of banks, some with huge roots exposed - only still there by virtue of their twisted trunks which made them unsuitable for the shipbuilders centuries ago.
The weather report warned that it was going to bucket down on Saturday evening, and for the next few days, so packed up on Saturday lunchtime and headed back to London - a nice break, and great change of scene. Nice getting home too - Bill's chicken curry on Saturday evening, down to our local, local for a few pints of Staropramen (http://www.staropramen.com/english/index.html) ............yummy!!!
hugs to all