The Other Side Of My Childhood

I grew up in North Wales for eighteen years and for the last fourteen years I’ve called the North West of England my home. But there is another corner on this island where my heart feels ‘home’.

After seven years of relationship, including 1 year of marriage, I finally convinced my husband to come to North Devon with me. Specifially to Woolacombe.

I was 11 the first time I went to Woolacombe. My parents are convinced I was younger, but I’m convinced it was 1993, because Nicky Campbell was there with the Radio 1 Roadshow the first day we woke up, with East 17 performing there. It can’t have been earlier. East 17 weren’t big enough before that.

Woolacombe is a small village next to a 2+mile stretch of golden, blue flag beach. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The view coming over the cliffs on the approach to the sea is stunning. I have heard rumours over the years that Woolacombe, or at least Mort Point, is located on a ley line. I can absolutely believe it, given some of the things I’ve experienced in Woolacombe. For starters, it lies in the path of the gulf stream. Swimming in the sea off Woolacombe beach is a very strange experience as the waves alternative between freezing cold and warm as bath water.

The coast is also home to the Barricane Beach – sandwiched between two larger sandy beaches, the Barricane Beach is made up entirely of crushed shells, many of which have been swept all the way to Britain from the Carribean islands. And finally, with Lundy Island lying off shore, I can absolutely believe that there is a mystical energy surrounding Woolacombe. Even my husband commented that the town possessed an energy which he has never experienced in any other British seaside resort.

When I visited the town with my family, we stayed in a few different places, but most often we were based at the Castle Hotel. This time, however, my husband and I were camping at North Morte Farm, just up the cliffs above Woolacombe in the village of Mortehoe.

I’d visited Mortehoe before, but this village had more frequently been my mother’s haunt, as she used to visit it when she made holidays to Devon on her own.

Picturesque doesn’t begin to describe the place:

Mortehoe Village

 

The white building in the centre is The Ship Aground public house. This became our home from home for many of our mealtimes. It’s a character filled pub, with stools and tables made from old barrels, giving nods towards the pub’s history as a smuggler’s haunt. The atmosphere was cheerful, the staff friendly and welcoming, the menu home-cooked and tasty and the rum selection plentiful!

Our base for this holiday was North Morte Farm, a recommendation from my mother who discovered it on one of her walks.

To give you an idea of how beautiful this place was, this was the view that awaited us when we finally arrived after a 7 hour journey:

 

 

Sunset over Morte Bay

 

North Morte Farm was a great place to stay. By late September, we were into their low season pricing, just £12 per night for the two of us with our car and bell tent, with access to free hot showers, toilets, rubbish disposal and a host of other facilities such as a shop, laundrette and charging for phones/kindles available at reception. They were also no further than a 10 minute stroll from three local pubs, including The Ship Aground. The views over the cliffs towards the bay from the camping ground were simply stunning and would have been worth a higher price on their own:

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The view across the sea each morning from our tent was a beautiful sight to wake up to…

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…and the sunset was equally lovely.

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Even the clouds on our last day couldn’t spoil it.

However, the best views were the ones we had at Morte Point, a local national trust beauty spot that we walked out to with a picnic one day:

The view across Woolacombe Bay was as clear as it was when I was a child

The view across Woolacombe Bay was as breathtaking as it was when I was a child

As a child I always felt that Woolacombe was a place where you could almost fall off the end of the world into the sky because the horizon and the ocean were so open and so big. It was a relief and a delight to discover that feeling hadn’t disappeared as I’d grown older, and nor had that sensation of ‘coming home’ that flowed over me as I walked along the coastal paths of Woolacombe and the cliffs of Mortehoe.

It was very special for me to be able to take my husband to this place, because I feel as much a part of this place as I do of Wales, as if the cliffs and the rocks and sea had a hand in forging who I am as a person today.

The next stage in our holiday would be a venture into Cornwall, not only to visit Bude, but to visit Tintagel, which was part of my husband’s childhood.

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