Friday, 3 June 2011

'Well...isn't this a shit hole?'

I thought, as I wandered into Bideford town. I'd stopped off at a little faux railway carriage which now served as a cafe and whipped my map and guide book out to take a gander. Worryingly, my knee had been feeling a little tender still on the way from Instow to here, despite my rest in a comfy bed the night before. The folks at the cafe tried their best to be helpful, but all I managed to get for my enquiries here were vague directions and unwelcome glares.

Before I get into Bideford proper, the walk from Instow to here - boring but pleasant. I left the Wayfarer with a smile and a wave and winked at the early morning girl in the Instow Arms as I went past, rejuvenated and feeling optimistic. The book promised a scenic, easy walk today and I was looking forward to it and the day started off very much in that vein - along the estuary, still on the Tarka trail (one of the ugliest trails in Britain from what I've seen) and then up into that old railway carriage I'd mentioned after an hour or so. The Bideford 10k run was on today and that provided some entertainment as the athletes streamed past past. I still feel guilty for chuckling at some of the back runners, particularly the heavyset fellow who had taken his place in the rear guard.

Worryingly, my phone's battery was struggling and my solar charger wasn't a great deal of help - it struggled to find any sun through the clouds of North Devon, but it held out for a couple phone calls from Jess, who set me onto a campsite in Westward Ho! for the night. I'd particularly been looking forward to Westward Ho!, partially for the exclamation mark and partially because the coast path association told me that it was a lovely place to spend a day on the coast and they'd never bend the truth, would they?


  1. Hi there Robin - great read, thanks. My husband and I plan to hike the swcp from Bude to Penzance next May. We're Canadians and the cost of the B&B's I have seen are crazy with the exchange so we will want to camp as much as possible. Did you walk that part and are there enough campgrounds to camp at least every second night? Also, do you recommend any pre-booking for walking that section in May?

  2. Hi there, glad you enjoyed the read. I'm afraid the cost of B&B's is a little extortionate, but on a good note there are plenty of camp sites, if you're prepared to look for them. In Bude there's a plenty, mostly a little way out of town, there's also a surf hostel which is cheap and cheerful. There's plenty of tourist info available, so you'll have no problem. Your best bet from then on is to ask at the campsite where you're staying if they can suggest another one to you in the next town over - chances are they'll be able to and if they don't know of any by heart then they'll phone around. There's plenty right the way up to Tintagel (which is worth a stop). I don't know how opposed you are to the idea of wild camping, but that's definitely doable do in the more remote stretches, pitch up somewhere quiet and be up and about early and you've got a free night. You also might have luck if you stop into any welcoming looking farm houses as they'll generally have no problem with you pitching your tent in one of their fields for a token fee of a few pounds. Same for pubs and their beer gardens if you find the right one, possibly on the proviso that you eat dinner there! Pubs are also a great place to find somewhere to stay, ask the locals inside and they'll either offer to put you up in their garden (or spare room if you're very lucky and they're feeling friendly)or they'll know a guy who knows a guy...

    To answer your question directly, yes you will be able to camp every second night and probably more so than that. You'll find a stretch every so often where you're in a B&B two or three nights in a row, but then you'll be able to camp for three nights after. And a B&B is a welcome break after a long hard day on the trail. Good luck and feel free to ask if you've got any questions. Let me konw how it goes!