While in Devon, I pestered my parents to drive us somewhere new – funny, as a kid it was always me doing the grumbling about car rides – and I picked Clovelly somewhat randomly from a guidebook. It’s about an hour’s drive from Lee on Devon’s north-west coast, past Appledore and Westward Ho! (Doesn’t this part of the world have the best place names?) My mum knew it vaguely as being where the famous Hovis advert was filmed but otherwise we were surprised to turn up and find that it’s an entirely private village, with a £6.50 fee payable to enter. Nearly every building in the village is listed so the fee mostly goes towards maintenance using traditional craftsmanship, upkeeping the tourist facilities and entry to a couple of the small museums.
Stepping inside past the customary gift shop, we were greeted with a stunning view over the rooftops to the sea and harbour below, and a cobbled walkway winding down through the village. There are no cars in most of the village (just for guests of the single hotel) and most deliveries are made up and down the cobbles by sledge.
This weekend I took my third consecutive family trip to Devon. It was my granddad’s 90th birthday so a nice excuse to get away together and visit him. It helped that it was one of the warmest weekends in recent memory so a great time to get some fresh sea air.
This time we stayed a little outside Lee at Lower Campscott Farm. It was a shame to not be right by the beach, but it was a lovely little place – a real working farm with a herd of Dexter cattle, sheep, chickens who gave fresh eggs in the morning and a sweet pony. There was also a tea room/shop, communal green space for the 5 or 6 holiday cottages, and great views across the bay.
The walk to the beach, through fields and woods, was no hardship really.
Of course we still made it down to the beach too, and also did a day trip to a special little place that I’ll share more about soon..
It’s now becoming an annual thing for my family to have a little getaway to Devon. The house – and weather – this year wasn’t as nice as last time, but I did love this dusty old bookcase filled with some unusual titles…
Just down the coast from Lee, the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth are a little touristy, but rather pretty all the same. Lots of pubs, chippies and ice cream shops so at least you won’t starve…
Cliff railway from Lynmouth to Lynton
Built in the late 19th century to link the coastal Lynmouth to isolated Lynton on the clifftop, the short rail line runs entirely using the weight of water (and its passengers) to lever the carriages up and down. Now I know that I’m not sure I’d have felt as secure while riding it…!
Antiques shop in Lynton
A good find, attached to an art gallery with lots of paper ephemera at reasonable prices.
Valley of the rocks
A short twisty hilltop drive away from Lynton lies the Valley of the Rocks, a dramatically scenic spot where moorland meets ancient limestone and slate by way of the sea, causing unusual (and rather precarious-looking) rock formations. It’s worth the scramble up to the summit for the fantastic views (and having a ‘king of the worlllddd’ moment à la my cousin in the first photo!).
A few more photos of Lee
The old bay hotel is being turned into holiday apartments – tourism has been down in recent years which caused lots of local businesses that I remembered from childhood visits to close. The derelict hotel’s in a pretty sorry state at the moment so I hope the renovation revitalises the village a bit.
Last weekend, we went over to North Devon for a long weekend break with my family. My mum’s from that corner of the country and my grandad’s lived in the tiny coastal village of Lee for as long as I can remember. In fact it’s barely even a village: just a stretch of cottages, a lovely local pub, a church and tea rooms.
We stayed at Mill Field Cottage, a pretty bungalow with amazing views of the bay and valley below.
View from the back of the cottage and pretty bugs in the garden
The interior was cosy Cath Kidston country-chic
The cottage is a three-minute stroll up from the bay. Lee beach is all dramatic rocks and shingle; we did lots of scrambling over the cliffs, looking for shrimp and crabs in the rock pools – then topped up all the spent calories via creams teas and ice cream from the Smugglers’ Cove cafe.
We’ve been coming here ever since I was tiny. I found this photo from when I was five years old in my granddad’s photo album and took a Dear Photograph-style reproduction.
My sister’s always wanted to be on the blog! so here’s a pic of her and her doggy Theo
It was lovely to hang out with my family for a long weekend and switch off from everything – there’s barely any mobile phone signal down there, let alone internet, and it’s quite amazing to hear nothing at night but the quiet roar of the tide drawing in.
More photos on Flickr, and yet more from my film cameras and some day trips we took coming up…