Flying home from London, May 2018

The last post for our UK 2018 trip!

May 12, 2018    It is a long flight, but luckily for us, there was a nonstop from London to Portland.

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Last views of the British Isles

Northern Canada – lots of pretty ice to  look down upon.

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The Rocky Mountains come into view,

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Our own volcanic mountains pop up under the wing, and finally, the Columbia River and Mt St Helens and we are home.

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Mt Adams, Mt Rainier and the Goat Rocks

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Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, the Columbia River

My favorite memories from the trip, as I am writing this 11 months later, are many.

The Jane Austen locations are at the top of the list – her portrait in London, her home and the big house in Chawton, the Quilt!, the Cobb in Lyme Regis, and then wandering around Bath, knowing that many of these sights were in her daily view while she lived there.

I enjoyed knowing my way around London for our brief stop there, revisiting some locations we had previously enjoyed, and also seeing the Natural Science Museum and Portrait Gallery.

It is always about the landscape! I love British literature, and have seen many of these locations or similar places on film, but there is nothing like boots on the ground for really feeling a place. Thus, the chalk cliffs, the Jurassic cliffs of Charmouth,  the downs, the hedgerow counterpanes and Dartmoor ponies on the moors, the blue water of Cornwall; the old castles and cottages juxtaposed with modern buildings, and then the Roman baths and Georgian Crescents in Bath – all fill in my minds eye where imagination leaves off, and I feel richer for the experience. I can see hobbits on the moors, Winnie the Pooh in the woods, mole and water rat on the river.

I would love to spend more time in Cornwall, and we have on our list another trip to Scotland. New Zealand, the Alps, and other destinations also call. This year we will remain stateside for reunions, weddings and graduations…exploration of new places are part of those plans as well. I feel very lucky to be able to travel with my husband on these fabulous adventures!

Exploring North Devon – Lynton to Ilfracombe, UK

Day 14  – More North Devon   Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Our plan for the day was to explore along the coast of North Devon to the west of our lodging in Lynton.

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Valley of Rocks – Castle Hill

Our first stop was in the Valley of Rocks again. We wanted to climb to the top of Castle Hill this time. We had great views and a wildlife encounter.

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Valley of Rocks

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This bird escorted us up the path on an otherwise quiet day.

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Dan ascending, the bird on the upper left.

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I hiked up the next rise to find my path blocked by feral goats.

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We found another path to the top.

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Looking down on the goats.

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An ‘arch’ of Devonian sandstone near the top.

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View to the west, where we hiked two days ago.

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Looking down on the goats again as we head down hill.

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Another ‘cheese wring’ across the road.

Trentishoe

Next, we drove west through the rolling landscape, and stopped for a coastal view at Trentishoe Hill.

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Looking east along the Devon coastline.

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A rocky cove beyond the blooming gorse.

Holdstone Down

We took a short hike to a trig point at Holdsmore Down.

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Track across Holdstone Down.

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Holdstone Down trig point

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View to the west

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Looking south across downs to the manicured counterpane farm fields.

Combe Martin

We explored the rocky cove and beach at Combe Martin as the tide was coming in. it would have been nice to explore around to the next cove, but seemed too risky.

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The beach at Combe Martin, tide rising.

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Dipping Devonian sandstones form one wall of the beach.

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The walk along the cliffs.

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Spring flowers above.

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Looking back to town.

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Sandstone and the view across the harbor.

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Walking around the cliff edge.

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Tide pools

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Tide coming in along the outer walkway.

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Limpets and snails

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Eroding stairway up the cliff.

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After exploring the beach we drove on to the western viewpoint looking back down to Combe Martin beach.

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The walkway along Combe Martin beach.

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We could also see to the west from the upper viewpoint.

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Ilfracombe

Our last stop was the sprawling town of Ilfracombe. It is surrounded by water and spread out over several rocky hills. The rising tide meant we could not go into the famous Tunnel Beach. Instead, we explored the viewpoints and some local art installations, and finally stopped at a teashop for a famous Devon Cream Tea – two light and fluffy scones with Devon cream and strawberry jam, and a pot of tea. All was delicious.

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Ilfracombe Harbor

We walked through town, then uphill to the Ilfracombe Observatory, with great views all around

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Back to the southeast.

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We had our tea in one of these shops.

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To the southwest.

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To the north – the sea.

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Top of the hill.

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The Tunnel Beaches are along those cliffs to the west. As we admired the view, we noticed an interesting mosaic installation just beyond the beach.

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We could actually pace out the distance this local athlete had triple jumped while setting a (still standing) world record in 1995.

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It’s hard to imagine going this distance (18.29 meters/60 feet) in three ‘steps’!

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Looking back to the beach and Observatory Hill.

After our tea, we walked back toward the harbor, with the goal of seeing another local art installation called Verity – which, at more than 20 m high, can’t be missed!

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Verity by Damien Hirst, Ilfracombe Harbor

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This side of the statue displays the organs beneath the skin.

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This was our last stop for the day. We found our way back to Lynton, and packed up our belongings, ready to leave tomorrow for our next stop, Bath. And more Jane Austen history.

Exploring Exmoor, North Devon and Somerset, UK (18-57)

Day 13  May 8, 2018  Lynton, Lynmouth, Dunster, and Porlock

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We began this day walking from our lodging down the steep poetry- and flower-lined path to Lynmouth.

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Almost to the beach at the bottom of the cliff.

There we visited the Exmoor National Park Visitors Center and made plans to visit Dunster and Porlock, to the east of us. Lynmouth is the intersection of four trail systems in Exmoor, marked by this sculpture of a walker, and the trail signs.

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Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railroad

As we walked down the path to Lynmouth, we had crossed the tracks of the Cliff Railroad several times.

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The Cliff Railroad is a Victorian era funicular with two counterbalanced cars connected by cables and pulleys that simultaneously rise or fall as water is released from the water tank of the lower car.  The cars each have 700 gallon water tanks. The tank is refilled from a stream at the top of the cliff, and released to the stream at the bottom of the cliff. The power is completely passive – just gravity imbalance created by the weight differential between the two cars. The railway has been in continuous operation since 1890.

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We returned to Lynton via the Railroad, a much easier way to climb this 500 foot cliff than going back up the path.

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Dunster

We walked through the medieval town of Dunster. Dunster Castle, on the hill overlooking the town, dates back to at least 1086, shortly after the Norman conquest in 1066.

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Dunster Castle

We walked around some of the castle grounds.

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Stables

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Gardens

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The Yarn Market, where trade in cloth was conducted, is about 400 years old.

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Dunster Castle and the Dunster Yarn Market.

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The Water Mill is about 200 years old. We looked at the machinery, but the mill wasn’t in operation today.

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The water wheel

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One of the flour mills.

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Castle gardens near the mill

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More Gunnera manicata, the giant Brazilian rhubarb, growing along the mill stream.

The 15th century Gallox Bridge crosses the River Avill.

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Thatched roofs.

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Porlock Marsh

We drove back west to Porlock, where the National Park Guide had recommended a wildlife walk across the marsh.

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The path to the marsh.

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Boardwalks across the marsh

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Looking back toward town.

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View out to the Bristol Channel from the top of the berm.

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View to the east from the top of the shingled berm.

We did not see any wildlife, perhaps because the tide was out, just the shingled beach and the wide views, but it was good to stretch our legs.

My quilter’s eye noticed geometric patterns in the architecture in Porlock.

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We stopped at an overlook for the wide view of Porlock. From here, we headed back to Lynton for the dinner.

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Our Victorian Lodgings in Lynton:

My husband had selected this lodging, so I hadn’t realized before arriving that we would be staying in a converted Victorian manor house, built by a London mogul for his wife in 1870. The home was built on a ledge blasted from the cliff.

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A large ammonite embedded near the entryway.

The decor is Victorian, and most of the rooms are situated around a large communal open staircase and balcony, invoking the setting of an Agatha Christie novel.

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Our living room.

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Central stairway

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There were few other guests during this off season visit, but I would guess the patio tea service would be popular with walkers going to the Valley of Rocks from the Cliff Railway in the summer.

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Our balcony and stairs leading down to the patio where tea is served with an amazing view.

DSC04361Our self-catering apartment had updated plumbing and kitchen, with a private, very tiny balcony and spiral staircase, and a tremendous view across the bay to Countisbury Hill and Lynmouth Bay. We enjoyed the location and historical ambiance.

Valley of Rocks and Woodlands Walk, Lynton, Devon, UK (18-55)

Day 12, May 7, 2018

Today we walked a loop trail along the Southwest Coast Path through the Valley of Rocks, then circled back on the hills above the town of Lynton.

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Valley of Rocks: The sun position was better today as we retraced our steps into the Valley of Rocks. We climbed up one of the promontories

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Looking back to the east.

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Castle Rock and westward view.

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Steep cliffs here.

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Quartzite and Slate of the Devonian Lynton Formation

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Gorse

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Beyond the rocks, the path continues on the road past Lee Abbey.

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Lee Abbey

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Gardens

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Sheep

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Fog wafting by

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Old door

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View down to Lee Bay

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More sheep

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View back to the Abbey

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A house along the road

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Lee Bay again

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Horses riding up the road near Lee Abbey.

Our trail descended to circle around Crock Point, with the fog settling in on us.

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Steep steps down the primrose path.

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Foggy meadow on Crock Point,

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and foggy views beyond the hedgerows.

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Plenty of flowers,

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And then the fog lifted.

Next our trail wound through Croscombe and Bonhill Woods where we crossed The Lee on Bonhill Bridge.

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Our path was lined with bluebells in Croscombe Wood.

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Bluebells and Campion

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A twisted tree, ferns and bluebells – so very green in here!

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Another steep staircase in Bonhill Woods down to the stream.

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Bonhill Bridge across The Lee.

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The Lee

As we entered the Six Acre Wood we could see back to the Valley of Rocks.

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A small check dam along the way seemed like water sprite habitat.

Our trial emerged onto the slopes of South Cleave, from which we could look down upon the Valley of Rocks and our earlier path.

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Trail up South Cleave.

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Looking down on Lee Abbey.

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Looking down on Lee Bay.

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Valley of Rocks below.

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Another view west from South Cleave.

Our path led us down hill and through Lynton before circling back to our lodgings.

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Downtown Lynton.

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View over the rooftops to Lynmouth Bay.

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Sign showing the paths and the Cliff Railway down to Lynmouth – on tomorrow’s agenda.

 

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Southwest Coast Path Website Map for our Walk. We walked about 7.5 miles, 700 feet elevation.

Evening view of Countisbury Hill and Lynmouth Bay from our little balcony:

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Fowey to Lynton via The Cheesewring at Minions (18-54)

Day 11, May 6, 2018

We packed up and left our lovely cottage at Fowey. Our next destination was another four day self catering apartment, this time in a Victorian cliffside mansion in Lynton, on the north coast of Devon. Our drive took us near Bodmin Moor. We found an interesting stop along the way near the village of Minions. There were three ancient stone circles called The Hurlers, a rock formation called the Cheesewring, and baby animals in the farm pastures. For a travel day we did fairly well. We stocked up on groceries in Okehampton, then continued north on the winding roads that led to our cliffside perch in Lynton.

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Minions and the Cheesewring

We parked in the carpark and looked at signs about the history of this locale and the three ancient stone circles called The Hurlers that have been partially reconstructed.

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We walked through the stone circles and across the pastures, noticing a nearby tin mine. This whole area was a tin and copper mining center in the late 1800’s.

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Landscape view of Stowe’s Hill and The Hurlers.

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Tin mine

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The Hurlers

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Looking toward Stowe’s Hill.

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Looking back toward Minions.

We continued on to Stowe’s Hill, where the landmark known as The Cheesewring – a ‘stack’ of weathered granite slabs is perched above a quarry.

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Stowe’s Hill in the distance.

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Getting closer – quarry on the right side.

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The Cheesewring

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The Cheesewring is fenced off from the quarry below.

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Rock climbers in the quarry.

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Beyond The Cheesewring, the top of Stowe’s Hill is also made of a stack of weathered granite slabs.

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Looking back at The Cheesewring from the top of Stowe’s Hill.

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Dan at the top of Stowe’s Hill; The Cheesewring beyond.

We walked back down the hill and around the standing stones and cow herd in the pasture, admiring the foal and the lambs.

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Lynton

After a stop in Okehampton for lunch and groceries,

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Driving view of Okehampton

we made our way to Lynton. Lady google directed us along narrow streets through the town and seemingly to the cliff edge, then through these iron gates

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Entrance to our lodgings.

to the former mansion, now guesthouse with tea service, called Villa Spaldi. Our self catering apartment, furnished in old, formal style, had everything we would need for our next few days of exploring, and a fabulous view across the bay.

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Villa Spaldi

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Eastward view over Lynmouth from our little balcony.

After settling in, we took an evening walk along the SW Coast Path to the west toward the Valley of Rocks. The sun was low, and we planned to come back this way for more exploring tomorrow.

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Treed slope along the path

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Looking back to the east.

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Valley of Rocks

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Walking toward the setting sun.

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Walking back east.

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The path looks down on our cliffside abode.

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Last view to the east of Lynmouth Bay.