Our last full day

Wednesday 28th June 2023

Again we awoke to a wet, dull miserable morning but “hey” it doesn’t matter, we are enjoying ourselves.   We were originally due to leave today but having booked a table in the local pub, we’ve had to extend our stay ‘till tomorrow so we are going to head out to Ilfracombe.   The dogs disturbed us in the night, probably hyperactive after there moment of madness on the beach yesterday!!

The drive to ilfracombe started as usual through the local narrow lanes but as we got near we dropped down through a pretty tree lined valley into the town and made straight for the harbour, always a good starting point!!

Ilfracombe Harbour

Ilfracombe also turned out to be a gem of a place with history etc.  It was originally inhabited during the Iron Age, naturally it was recorded in the Doomsday book in 1086.  Throughout its history there were 2-distinct parts of the town, one part is all about agriculture and the other is about the sea.  Though the little, well protected harbour is full of private pleasure craft now, in earlier ages it was a thriving fishing and commercial port.   It was also one of the main ports where commercial ships ploughing the Bristol Channel could take refuge during storms.

Verity a weird statue!

As the commerce dwindled during the latter stages of the Regency period, the town gradually became a retirement destination particularly for a number of distinguished naval officers.  It also became a tourist destination though access in those early years was mainly by boat but with the coming of the railways during the early Victorian period it started to bloom though it really came into its own as a holiday destination once the railway arrived in Ilfracombe.   One of the more unusual aspects of Ilfracombe which also contributed to the increased popularity are “The Tunnels”: these 4 “Tunnels” were the inspiration of local entrepreneurs and hand-carved in the 1820’s by a team of Welsh miners cutting through the rock cliff to give access to the beaches below.  These being Victorian times, the three beaches were modified into 3-tidal segregated bathing pools: as was the law at that time, two for women and one for men.  This law apparently was repealed in 1901.

Bath House

At the entrance to the tunnels stands the impressive “Bath House”, built in 1836, a small scale Greek Revival building providing hot and cold seawater baths for visitors.   Today it used for self catering holidays and along with the tunnels, used for weddings venues.

We parked the car and took a wander around the harbour which is over shadowed by a 66-ft tall sculpture of a pregnant women standing on a pile of books holding a sword aloft named “Verity”, created by Damien Hurst in 2012; not sure why it’s here!!!   We then headed into the old town before moving on to find the tunnels.   The other unusual building here is the Landmark “theatre”, it looks like power station cooling towers, very unusual.

Unusual theatre building

The signpost pointing up to the tunnels was very clear, but driving up the road there was nothing!!!.  The sign wasn’t visible from the way we approached them , so drove past several times before we “twigged” it was at the side of the Bath House but no car park to help identify the place, street parking only, still the three circumnavigations looking for them gave us a good look insight to the town and surrounding area!   

Entrance to the tunnels

Naturally we had an entrance fee to enter but well worth a visit if for no other reason it gave us a in-depth insight to holidaying in the Victorian era and the dogs enjoyed the walk even though they were not allowed on the stony beach.

OK back to Saunton Beach stopping at a pub on route for a light lunch as we’re out tonight.

Again the Saunton beach was as good as yesterday, the pooches went “nuts” and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and we had the opportunity to enjoy the fresh sea air as there was a wind blowing in from the sea but the sky was full of rain clouds.  Once “they” had calmed down we were back to the car as the rain started, good timing!!!

Saunton Beach

Having booked the restaurant in the Kings Head for 1930hrs we needed to get moving but typically when camping, the time we trooped down to the shower block it was raining, fortunately not too hard.

When we booked yesterday the pub was nearly empty but walking in this evening, wow, people everywhere, the pub was heaving and the restaurant full; jolly glad we booked as nothing available!!!     We chose to sit in the bar, bigger table than the restaurant and more space for TT& R it sit under the table.   Having perused the menu yesterday we already knew what we wanted and we were not disappointed, the publican was right when he told us how good his chefs were; the food was excellent and no doubt when we return in a couple of weeks time with Mark and Paula, we will be back in the Kings Head restaurant.

Lovely quiet site, not sure it will be the same in July!

This is our last night, we head back tomorrow after a really enjoyable camping holiday in Devon, can’t wait ‘till the next one

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