Day 065: Appledore to Braunton
Distance: 19.60 miles
Ascent: 1091 feet
Weather: Sunny Spells, Occasional Rain
Accommodation: The Bryan's House, Braunton
Appledore was a lovely place for my rest day, and I was looked after very well by my host and must also thank The Seagate pub who kindly gave me a complimentary dinner yesterday evening. Leaving Appledore in the sun this morning showed it off at its best with it’s quirky shops, quaint buildings & narrow lanes.
The first part of the day took me up the River Torridge, and around the Babcock Dock Yard, passing under the Torridge Bridge before reaching Bideford. Bideford has a stunning bridge the Bideford Long Bridge, consisting of 24 stone arches. Once across this bridge I reached the start of the Tarka Trail.
The parts of the Tarka Trail that I would be following, were disused railway lines firstly the Bideford Extension railway (Bideford to Barnstable) and then the Ilfracombe Branch Line (Barnstable to Braunton) which meant the majority of the final 15 miles of today would be spirit level flat, which would make a very welcome change.
So, I followed the old rail route to Instow, where the coast path actually heads of the Tarka Trail for a short while and navigates through the dunes, and passed possibly the most scenic cricket pitch in the country with its thatched pavilion before rejoining the Tarka Trail. I soon reached Fremington Quay where courtesy of a contact of my rest day host, I had been very kindly offered some free food at the cafe. The café was perfectly situated on the river and had a great selection of cakes and other foods. I arrived fairly early around 11 so had a tea and slice of millionaire’s flapjack which was absolutely scrumptious and gave me the energy to speed on.
The Tarka Trail then continues until it crosses over the Taw Bridge, just shy of Barnstaple. The Taw Bridge was probably my biggest hill of the whole day, and it got incredibly windy as I crossed over it. The Tarka Trail continues on the other side where I passed the Marines Base at Chivenor, this seems much more active than most of the other military bases I had passed, and throughout the day I had seen landing craft exercises, helicopter manoeuvres and even a couple of marines doing practise heavy loading yomps along the Tarka Trail.
From Chivenor it was not long till Braunton, and I was considering extending the day to the dunes beyond Horsey Island where it would be perfect to pitch my tent. Just at that moment a kind offer came through of a bed in Braunton, and I debated for a few minutes as part of me wanted to extend the day as it was still early but it seemed stupid not to accept the kind offer.
So, a 20-mile day completed not long after 2pm, then a hair cut which was definitely needed at James Barber which was a very good cut which he wouldn’t let me pay for, then a lovely chilli courtesy of my hosts The Bryan's so all in all a pretty perfect day.