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#249264 - 29/05/14 12:37 PM Place2Be Sheep Walk 2014
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
(This topic will eventually be public, so as with my previous accounts of Sheep Walks, I've locked the topic to comments. Feel free to comment on this in the 'Sheep Walk 2014!' topic. Always love hearing everyone's thoughts. But this will keep this one 'clean' for public viewing!)

DAY 1 Woody Bay to Lynton

(And before I start, thanks to Kirsten for all the black-famed photos, which are hers. Not only does she have a much better quality camera than I, with my weight-adding iPhone, but she had the patience to actually take pictures everywhere. I tended to give up early!)

I arrived in Devon the day before everyone else because I was staying with friends in Ilfracombe, about 12 miles away from Lynton, where everyone else was. Because I was there early, I planned to drive over and vet the first day's location for meet-up, because the one thing I always worry about is the 'meeting up' part (everyone now understands why!). So I loaded my friends in the car and we drove over to Lynton, trying to follow Kirsten's directions to the Woody Bar car park. However, about four miles from Lynton, we were greeted by thick fog. My friends said the Devon word for this is 'Haw' (or 'hah', no idea of the spelling!) Whatever you call it, it made it absolutely impossible to see any road signs soon enough to turn. So, we gave up at the road turning into Woody Bay, because it looked like this.

As it turns out, that was very good fortune, because the next day was nice and clear and that's when I discovered this road soon turned into a single car track with a 200-foot drop on one side into the sea, the only protection being a wooden rail about two feet high!

Next morning, all was clear and pleasant and I managed to find the car park with no difficulty. So we assembled.

From left to right (and all pictures from here on will be identified left to right unless stated otherwise) we have Carline (behind me) me, looking way too jolly, Rachael, Robyn, Andreas and Hannah.

And then we were off down the road I am very glad I did not try to drive in the fog, as this is the wide bit!

Walkers here are Corinna with her every present camera, Hannah, Lubey, Jude (behind Lubey), Hannah C. in front holding Milly's hand. Andreas in front and Kate behind him.

Several of the brave walkers in this picture are partners/family members of THBB members and it's worth mentioning them at this point, because they were all very good humoured about our adventures. Jude is Hannah's partner. Hannah C. is Debbie's 13-year-old sister. Milly, age 3, who uncomplainingly did two of the three days - in other words ten miles of walking all by herself - is Kate's daughter. And Andreas is Corinna's husband, a particularly brave participant as he was also the only man among us!

After about two miles of easy, downhill walking, we came first to a little 'tea cottage' and then to the beach. Kirsten suggested we take a group photo at this point, partly because it was one of the few flat bits of our walks where we could get everyone together easily. Managing to do this, however, was a challenge of its own, as everyone wanted to explore the beach. Here we are, more or less getting into formation.

That's Milly and mum Kate, Carline, Alex, Hannah C in front of sister Debs, behind Debs is Rachael, then Hannah and Lubey closest to the camera.

Kirsten had the challenging task of getting the camera to balance while keeping all of us in focus long enough for the timer to go off.

Which wasn't easy, so fellow photographer Corinna came to give advice.

A small conference took place.

But it was worth it. Because here we all are, the only picture we have with absolutely everyone!

Kate, Milly, me, Carline, Rachael, Alex, Hannah, Jude, Debs, Hannah, Robyn, Lubey in front of Andreas, Corinna and Kirsten.

Then many were off to investigate the water.

Which Hannah discovered was wet!

#249265 - 29/05/14 12:39 PM Re: Place2Be Sheep Walk 2014 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
Others stayed up on the beach and relaxed.

(Kate and Andreas.)

And Milly found her own amusement.

This was the point we found Alex has an almost irresistible urge to climb up on things. She had soon attracted the company of Milly, Kate and Hannah C.

And then it was time to get back to walking, and having come downhill to the beach, we were confronted with uphill . . .

We had to go past that building, which is an old abbey and on up further. And it is a rather bigger hill than it looks in this picture!

About halfway up, Milly decided her head was getting hot, so Alex lent her her headband, which Milly modeled for us.

This was the only part where Milly did really think she'd just about had enough and wanted to rest. So she had a little sit down in Hannah's lap. That's Debs, Rachael, Alex, Hannah C. and Jude also in the picture.

But once Milly had rested, she was ready to go again. Soon we were on top of the hill and the walk leveled out.

Corinna, Hannah, Jude and Andreas in front. Robyn, then Rachael behind and then Alex, Milly and Kate.

This was the point in the walk we passed the sign warning us to be careful of unicorns.

#249266 - 29/05/14 12:39 PM Re: Place2Be Sheep Walk 2014 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
We were nearing the last mile, which goes along the cliffside, so most people stopped for a small rest. Alex, of course, saw something to climb while others were resting.

If you don't think Alex is in that picture, here is an enlargement. Look for the red shirt.

And then we were off again on a path not for people who suffer vertigo.

Hannah and Jude, Kate and Milly behind, then Rachael and Alex.

Stopping at the bench for a small rest.

Jude, Debs, Milly, Kate, Hannah C.

And while we didn't see any unicorns, we did see goats resting out on the most precipitous part of the hillside. This nanny goat and her kid were completely unfazed by the 200 foot drop below them.

An enlargement (which isn't too clear) that shows the little kid tucked up close to its mum.

And then onward and upward.

Until at last around the corner (several corners, actually!) and through a small wood, we ended up back in Lynton, right outside the guest house where everyone was staying. And that ended our walk on Day 1.

#249303 - 31/05/14 05:41 PM Re: Place2Be Sheep Walk 2014 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
Day 2: Lynmouth to the Cleaves

Because I was staying in Ilfracombe while the others were in Lynton, my big worry each morning was finding the location where we were meeting up, because there was lots of potential to get lost, and this was made more problematic by the fact we seldom had a phone signal due to the lay of the land. So it was with great relief that, when I arrived Sunday morning, everyone was there waiting. I confessed to Kirsten that I always panicked a bit about not finding the right place, and she said in disbelief, 'You? Panic?' By Monday, she would know why . . . !

Sunday, however, we were all ready to go. On the left: Kirsten, Rachael (hiding), Kate and Milly, Hannah C., Corinna and Carline. On the right, Jude, Hannah, Lubey (hiding) and Debs. Andreas was behind me, also taking pictures.

Our path started in the village of Lynmouth on the right, across the bridge and then up the left side of the valley.

Soon we were up into sublime woodland once again.
Corrina (just coming into view, then Debs and Hannah C, Carline and Lubey, Robyn, Andreas and Alex, Jude and Hannah and up front, Rachael and Kirsten.

A pause along the way. Debs, Kate (who, I hasten to point out, does not have Milly hiding under her t-shirt but tied her jacket around her waist and pulled her rather lengthy t-shirt down over it!), Andreas, Carline, Robyn, Alex and Hannah.

Bridges were a major feature of this walk and we crossed back and forth across the river several times. Each one proved a fun photo opportunity as well as some great views. Here Andreas is attempting to line everyone up while waiting for other walkers to move along.

Andreas, Lubey, Corinna, Rachael and a few extraneous members of the public!

The views of the river were, indeed, wonderful and Corinna and I stayed behind with our cameras. Note other red t-shirts were already on the move on the right!

I also loved the lush woodland behind us.

Along the path we came to a very, very tiny waterfall that absolutely fascinated Milly. She thought it might make a good shower! Milly's mum thought otherwise and pointed out Milly might not want to walk the remaining three miles in wet wellies. Fortunately, Milly saw the value in this!

Hannah is here with Milly.

Then we paused to consult the map. The trail to the left? The trail to the right? In the end, we took the trail to the left.

Kirsten with the map, Alex, Andreas, Robyn, Hannah, Debs and Hannah C. behind her, Carline with Lubey behind her and Rachael.

Milly loved this part of the walk because she found a hollow tree with a 'Milly-hole' in it.

#249304 - 31/05/14 05:41 PM Re: Place2Be Sheep Walk 2014 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
All the walks in North Devon proved to be very civilized because wherever you went, the National Trust had got there first and opened a tea shop! So halfway into our walk, we stopped for refreshments.

Robyn, Carline, Lubey and Corinna

And whenever we stopped, the first thing people did was check if there was a phone signal. The answer was usually no!

Alex, Kate and Milly

And of course, Alex hadn't had to climb anything yet, so she was soon off with the intention of taking a photo of the rest of us from a birds-eye view. (Spot the red t-shirt!)

At this point, we split up. Alex, Corinna and Andreas decided to return to Lynmouth by going up over the top, which included a climb of 160 steps. The rest of us returned to Lynmouth along the river valley in much the same way as we came. So we bid the three hardy souls farewell.

And we less hardy souls set off, encountering the only rain we had all weekend, which didn't last very long.

Hannah C. in the purple rain jacket, Debs in front of her, Carline, Kirsten, Robyn and Rachael ahead.

As the trail back was very similar to the one out and there are only so many interesting photos one can take of people's backs, particularly in rain jackets, suffice it to say, we returned. And here is Milly walking triumphantly back into the car park at the end of the walk. (I will add here that Milly was a real trouper. Age 3 and she walked the entire five mile distance both days on her own and was cheerful throughout. She was a real star!)

#249387 - 03/06/14 02:31 PM Re: Place2Be Sheep Walk 2014 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
Ah, and now we come to our traditional celebration meal. On previous Sheep Walks, we had this on the last evening after all the walking was finished. Our days were a little differently arranged this time, however, so that the last walk was on Monday and most people needed to get home straight after for work commitments. So we decided to have our celebration meal on Sunday night at a restaurant called Pasta and Pizza in Lynton. This sounded like a good option and it was a lovely, attractive place. However . . .

It seems they were not accustomed to dealing with groups as large as ours, as well as other customers, and this seems to have thrown the owner and his waitress into a complete tizzy. Kate, when she went up to order a drink at the bar was told to go back and sit down because he was too busy to serve her. When I went to order a drink after having been in the restaurant 45 minutes without any service, I was told 'I see you, but I can't serve you right now. Just stand there.' Which I did, as it was clear the two of them were feeling totally overwhelmed. And this was before the food came (which it eventually did, including the vegan pizzas with non-vegetarian cheese and Alex's pizza, which included an interesting layer of flour as an extra.) And definitely before the bill came, about which I can only say, thank goodness for Carline, who usurped the calculator and straightened us out.

That said, we actually had a super time, as we always do at this events, and the food was nice, in spite of traumatizing the staff, and the environment very pleasant, in spite of the chaos we seemed to inadvertently be causing (and everyone was behaving! God forbid they'd see us at other times!)

I and my trusty iPhone took the evening off in regards to picture-taking, as it isn't very good indoors in dim circumstances, so thank you to Kirsten for most of these photos and Hannah for the one including Kirsten.

We divided ourselves between two big tables. Each of these big tables were created by pushing two smaller tables together and the idea was that it would make bill-paying an easier task when it came time to settle up, if we had two groups, one at each table. Unfortunately, this didn't seem to make quite as much sense to the staff. Despite the fact we were sitting, six at one table and eight at the other, with a space in between, they divided our bills up as if nine of us were sitting at the first table and four at the other. Huh??

Anyway, here is most of Table One - Hannah C. hiding behind Corinna and Andreas, and Debbie and Rachael opposite. You also see just a little bit of Alex's floury pizza.

Then we have Robyn and Alex.

Then Jude and Hannah. (I love these two 'Don't mess with me' looks. We were definitely getting hungry by this point and not so patient with photographers!)

Lubey and I were next to Hannah and Jude.

And Kate and Carline were across from us.

And because we want a picture of Kirsten too, who was behind the camera for all these other shots, and because we want to prove that Carline is not nearly as well-behaved as she gives the impression of being in the above photo, here is a picture courtesy of Hannah.

#249390 - 03/06/14 05:54 PM Re: Place2Be Sheep Walk 2014 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
And now comes the last walk! This was our inadvertantly rather adventure-strewn walk. We were walking the five miles around Tarr Steps, a 3000-year-old clapper bridge across the River Barle.

The day before, Kirsten has reacted with surprise when I said I always felt a bit of panic about meeting up because I was worried I wouldn’t get the right place. She didn’t think I was the sort of person to panic at anything. Ah well, now Kirsten knows why . . .

My big mistake was in not buying an Ordnance Survey map when I arrived, as this would have not only allayed my usual panic, it would have averted Sunday’s mishap altogether, because there is a crucial difference between using Ordnance Survey maps and using Google maps. OS maps are for people who navigate by using maps. Consequently, they show all the roads, all the car parks, all the landmarks in a given area. Google maps are for people who navigate by using sat navs. So they only need to know where they are starting and where they are finishing and not really much else. Unfortunately, I am a map navigator and I set out with a Google map. Or two. Or three, as my friends in Ilfracombe had also printed me out a Google map.

Google maps tend to look like they are being very clear when they are, in fact, being quite obscure. One of their weirder habits is calling roads by local names, such as Long Lane and Room Hill Lane, which are not on any of the road signs, instead using road numbers, such as B3223, which will be on the road signs. This doesn’t matter if you have some disembodied voice saying, ‘Turn right here’. It is not so good if you are actually trying to find evidence of Long Lane in the real world. Nonetheless, I thought I was following the map just fine. Indeed, for the first time on the whole weekend, I thought I knew where I was going. I zipped through the village of Simonbath, just like it said, discerned that Room Hill Lane was also the B3223, and I turned off at the first turning signposted Tarr Steps. There was a lovely little car park with two other cars and, at the far end, a sign pointing down a footpath that said ‘Tarr Steps’. Bingo! I parked my car. It was 9:45.

Ten o’clock came and no sign yet of the others. My car park had a nice moorland view, so I enjoyed that. Then I got out and chatted with the man in the adjacent car for a while. His wife was disabled and he wondered about going across Tarr Steps. We wondered if it would rain. Then we wondered if we should put sunscreen on, because the sun had come out. It was 10:15. Still no sign of the others.

Having plenty of time to observe what was going on in my locality, I was a little perplexed by the fact that quite a few cars went by the car park and they were driving fairly fast. When I had first arrived, I had driven a little past the car park just to see where the lane went and it quickly deteriorated into a farm track to a farmhouse in a bunch of trees. I did wonder why so many people were going there and I should have paid more attention to that wonder! Meanwhile, it got to 10:30. I was getting distinctly concerned, and all the more so because we notoriously did not have phone signals in Devon. I did, however, have a small signal. First I texted Kirsten to see where she was. When there was no response, I attempted to phone her. Nope. I wasn’t quite sure what was best to do at this point, so I just stayed where I was, especially as I had a signal.

Then at 10:45, finally a phone call from Kirsten. Unfortunately, the signal kept breaking up, so I couldn’t understand where she was in relation to where I was nor how to get from one place to another, because I was only hearing about every third word. So I made off that I would go to Tarr Steps itself, since I knew where that was, and I’d meet her and the others there.

Once we’d rung off, I got my kit out of the car and started to walk down the footpath to Tarr Steps. However, the moment I started down the path, a car appeared and this was the first indication I had that this was not a footpath but actually a road! It was that narrow I had not realized it was meant for cars from just looking at it (which describes quite a few of the roads over the weekend!) But this was clearly where all the cars had been going, not to the farm. And after walking about 500 yards down it, I realized Tarr Steps were further down in the valley than I thought and I went back to get my car and adventure down this tiny little tunnel of a road myself.

When I did, about a mile down, there was another car park. And four people in red shirts – Andreas, Alex, Carline and Kate. I have NEVER been so happy to see people in red shirts before in my life!

I parked my car in the car park there and told them that I had spoken with Kirsten and said we’d all meet at Tarr Steps. So the five of us set out to walk to Tarr Steps. As it turns out, we didn’t have much of a walk. Tarr Steps was only about a quarter of a mile further down the road!

Hmmm, I was thinking. There was a path immediately to our right, so I suggested we start walking along it and meet up with the others coming towards us. Ah, but Carline says, there is also a path on the other side of the river. Which one will they be coming down? As it turns out, it was very fortunate indeed that there were two paths and, hence, we did not take either of them, because in fact, the group came from a third way and had we attempted to go meet them, I would have only have gotten us lost for a second time that day! So we sat down to wait. (That’s Tarr Steps behind Alex.)

At least the three of us sat down to wait. Andreas decided to make the best of a bad situation and went to the ice cream stand.

Unbeknownst to us, the others had been dropped off in the middle of nowhere up on the moors and they were having a rather less lush time of it. (Robyn in back, then Hannah C. and Rachael.)

It soon became apparent that waiting was going to prove just as much of a challenge as walking, especially for Alex, who was soon looking for something to climb, run up or otherwise expend energy.

She settled on the idea of getting out to a little island in the river, so off she went across Tarr Steps.

And out into the water.


#249423 - 05/06/14 03:41 PM Re: Place2Be Sheep Walk 2014 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
Then the waiting started to get a bit old. Carline, Kate, Alex and I amused ourselves telling gross childbirth stories. Andreas wasn’t quite as taken with this topic and amused himself on his signalless phone.

Meanwhile, the others were coming off the moors and starting to wend their way through little lanes. (Debs and Hannah in back. Corinna and Lubey in front.)

We found some tadpoles. Alex, in particular, was worried because dogs cavorting in the water nearby kept trampling through them, but the tadpoles seemed to cope. We checked on them several times to make sure.

We waited.

And waited . . .

And waited . . .

You might not use as much energy waiting as you do walking, but trust me, it is still pretty challenging to do, especially as we had already had a long wait before I met up with the others. Rather small things began to take on great levels of excitement. In our case, it was cars fording the river.

I will not bore you with sixteen pictures of various cars doing this, like I did on Facebook, because probably one car doing it looks pretty much like another car doing it to you. There is no way to adequately convey just how exciting this is when otherwise you are staring at a stone bridge. But here is another one, just in case.

Meanwhile, the other walkers went through a cow pasture and a farmyard and looked at kittens.

We looked at the bridge. Admittedly, it was an interesting bridge. You don’t see a 3000-year-old bridge every day.

And then at last! The others arrived!
Andreas, Kirsten, Rachael, Kate, Carline, Lubey, Hannah, Debs, Hannah C. and Robyn. (Very fortunately little Milly went to visit her grandma on this last day and Jude decided to stay back in Lynton, as she gets very car sick and didn’t think the 40-minute drive over winding roads to get to Exmoor would be much fun. So they missed out on all our exciting Day 3 mishaps.)

So we finally set off across Tarr Steps ourselves as a complete group again.
Alex in the lead, then me, Robyn behind me. Some incredulous tourists at the end, glad to see the back of us!

Corinna, Hannah C, Lubey, Carline (delirious with happiness to be doing more than staring at the bridge) Hannah, Debbie, Rachael, Kate, Robyn, me and Alex.

#249424 - 05/06/14 03:57 PM Re: Place2Be Sheep Walk 2014 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
And up the woodland trail.
Debs and Rachael at the back, Kirsten and Carline further along.

The walk was worth the wait. Everything was very green and there were some beautiful plants along the way

And Alex found some water! (Although I’m not sure that was a particularly useful place to take the charity tin . . .)

And Hannah found a place to rest. (Kate nearest the camera, in back: Kirsten, Rachael, Carline and Robyn.)

And Lubey practiced her catwalk poses.

Then over the bridge. Another photo opportunity!
Kate, Hannah C., Hannah, Carline, Kirsten, Robyn (trying to photograph us before we photograph her) Debbie and Rachael.

And down the other side of the river.
Corinna in back, then Andreas, and Kate.

#249425 - 05/06/14 04:13 PM Re: Place2Be Sheep Walk 2014 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
This side was very beautiful too.

We then went right along the river.
Alex in front, Robyn, Andreas

And then we came across the most extraordinary thing – two large fallen logs into which people had pressed hundreds and hundreds of coins. Many of them were very, very old – old money from before decimalization – and had corroded to where they were not very recognizable.

Natural hooligans that we all were, we immediately wondered if they came out. Hannah thought we could put them in the charity collection tin. Andreas actually got one out. But we’re not really hooligans, so he stuck it back in the tree trunk!

The money tree was very near the end of our walk. We were back at Tarr Steps. So we posed for one last photo together.

First row, left to right: Lubey, Carline, Kate and Hannah, sitting down.
Second row: Corinna, Kirsten, Hannah C., Debbie, Robyn and me.
Back row: Andreas, Alex and Rachael.

Because it was so late, due to our mishap meeting up, Kate and I both had to leave at this point, because she was already supposed to be in Exeter teaching a class and I was supposed to be in Barnstaple. The rest of the walkers stopped at the lovely old pub run by the National Trust just above Tarr Steps and had lunch. (You can see Tarr Steps in the distance.)
Carline, Hannah, Rachael, Alex and Robyn on the left, Lubey, Andreas and Corinna on the right.

And that was it. Sheep Walk 2014 in North Devon was at its close. A big thank you to everyone who supported us, and to everyone who helped organize the trip and contributed to making it the great event it was!


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