Just returned from a four day break spending quality time with my sister Em in Devon and it’s safe to say it was an eventful trip! She arrived to pick me up in a headscarf and sunglasses combo, a tribute to Thelma and Louise on their road trip, but hopefully without the tragic ending. The journey was an easy one, even the tricky bit getting past Bristol, with no hold ups and we were soon on the A roads. We tend to chat pretty much non-stop when we are together so it seemed like no time at all had passed when we reached Ilfracombe. Excitement was at fever pitch as we parked up on the seafront. A feeling of peace always descends on me when I’m in this sleepy little place, which I know like the back of my hand. After a stroll around the harbour with its tearooms and gift shops, we stopped for lunch in Dolly’s cafe. It’s the perfect spot for people watching and the jacket potatoes are legendary. We stopped briefly for some supplies before heading to Hele Bay, the home of our grandparents for many years. I am instantly transported back to my childhood self in this environment. The beach here is by no means the prettiest in North Devon, it is an unspoilt cove with basic facilities and is unforgiving in bad weather with no shelter from the elements but to me it holds wonderful memories of long summer days spent fishing for crabs in rock pools and splashing in the paddling pool. Em had booked us into one of the pretty pastel wooden chalets on Beach Cove Resort which sits directly above the beach. Our cabin was towards the back of the park and had its own hot tub. The interior was small but beautifully done and we quickly settled in with a cuppa, happy to just gaze through the window at the beach and reminisce.
Within about half an hour it started to rain and soon the wind picked up. We knew the forecast wasn’t brilliant but we weren’t quite prepared for Storm Hannah! By the evening our little chalet was being battered from all sides and we were frankly thankful that we were not right on the cliff edge at the front. We went to bed and my bed was moving with me in it! There was no chance of getting any sleep as the wind roared around us and the rain lashed the windows. It was pretty scary. By the next morning it was still windy but the sun was shining. Our outdoor table and chairs were in a heap and many of the other guests were outside checking for damage. Feeling groggy, we had some breakfast and decided to brave the hot tub. Although it was cold outside we enjoyed a relaxing soak and felt more human. We walked into Ilfracombe, feasted on delicious toasties and milkshakes and visited the famous fudge shop Roly’s for gifts for the family. Of course we bought some for ourselves, lemon meringue fudge for Em and peanut butter fudge for me and sat on one of the benches overlooking the harbour to eat some of it, under the beady-eyed watch of several seagulls. Needing to walk off all those calories we took the Tarka trail back, the coastal path which winds up and over Hillsborough and down the other side into Hele. The walk takes about an hour, with various viewing points where we could stop and catch our breath. Right at the highest point the wind was so strong that we had to hold on to a signpost as we feared we would be blown off the edge! We had a table booked at a local fish restaurant for dinner and got back to the chalet with just enough time to change and head off. Later we watched a movie, both of us were exhausted and barely able to stay awake until the end.
By Sunday morning the wind had dropped but rain had set in for the day, still we made full use of the hot tub, who cares, we are getting wet anyway. We braved the drizzle for a stroll to the old water mill where the owners of this beautiful iconic landmark mill their own flour and serve the most divine homemade cakes and cream teas. We shared a combination of the traditional cream and jam variety and their savoury version, a fluffy, warm cheesy scone with cream cheese and homemade caramelised onion jam which is, dare I say it, even better than the sweet version. The little tea room displays local art and sculpture and this year they even had lambs and rabbits in a little petting zoo, much to the delight of my animal-mad sister. Later, hoping the rain would ease off we drove to Woolacombe but it was too wet and cold to go onto the beach so we settled for watching the surfers from the car instead. We stopped off in Ilfracombe on the way home and bought fish and chips for dinner.
Monday morning and time to go home. We were late getting up and had to rush around packing so that we could vacate our chalet on time. After a final stroll on Hele beach we headed off to Woolacombe again for some last minute shopping and breakfast before heading home. Em was disappointed that the weather hadn’t been too good but I honestly didn’t care, for me it was enough just to be there, to get away from the routine of my daily life and visit my favourite place in the whole world. I don’t think I will ever feel differently about Devon, it has featured so heavily in my life and always will hold a special place in my heart.
Please tell me in the comments if you have a special place you love to visit and why. I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading. xx