The weather takes a downturn, today, with layers of grey gloom hiding the sun. The surfers are out in force across the vast expanse that is Saunton Sands. It has a special atmosphere in the dull drizzle but our wet-suited heroes don’t give a fan – they’re going to get wet anyway. They only come out when noses, feet & hands have turned the colour of unripened blueberries.
Westward Ho! (The exclamation mark is an official part of the town’s name) mixes up together the elements of this north Devon coast. So surfers attack the waves in front of the static caravans and apartments blocks and beach huts that look out from their cliff locations.
Families and school groups explore the craggy rocks pools and wait for the sands to dry out before cavorting around in disorganised games. I love it. Nothing is too precious. Everything just mixes in together and the empty beach shows it has the space for every background and class to do their own thing when the sun comes out to play.
Now Clovelly is precious. First of all you have to pay £7.50 per person entrance fee. The village has been owned by one family for hundreds of years and none of the 250 inhabitants own their own home. In the blurb they call themselves ‘one of the world’s most beautiful villages’.
It is amazing. The steep descent down cobbled streets between old cottages is half a mile or so in length. The old harbour beside the old pub opens up at the bottom. Thankfully there is a Landrover services from the bottom to take you back up to the top for £2.50 – cheap at 10 times the price.
Hartland Quay, like Clovelly, is a port used to take agricultural produce and to bring in heavy goods like lime and coal and manufactured goods. Just one bar and a few fishermans’s homes line the approach to the beach and the quay itself. The coastline is very stark here. Dragons’ tails mingle with crocodiles’ scales to create a coast line doing impressions of sharp, sharks’ teeth cutting out to sea. It really is an angry place on a drizzly day like today.