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A record of our adventures between Pipit and her successor...

Nostalgic North Devon

4th - 8th September 2023

Following the death, at the grand old age of nearly 94, of our mother earlier this year, my sister Gill and I decided that it would be a nice idea to have a nostalgic holiday in North Devon, the location of our first family holidays together over half a century ago and, despite travelling all over the world, a firm favourite destination of our mother's to which she returned numerous times in later life, as has Gill.

Here then is a whistle-stop tour of some favourite places, with photos from Gill, Ian and ourselves - although September's weather is often clement, we did not anticipate the hottest week of the year in which to exert ourselves, so the words 'moist' and 'gusset' featured more than is normal...

Almost ready for the off - what could be more English than touring North Devon in a 50 year old Old English White MGB?

This MG started life in Abingdon, grew up in California (as did Ann), and returned to the UK some years later, where it was converted to RHD

We drove the length of the Atlantic Highway, roof down, overdrive engaged (the last thing I drove with overdrive on 3rd & 4th was a Sherpa van about 30 years ago!), to our first accommodation in Lynton. The MG was surprisingly comfortable and sprightly and drove very well for a car nearly as old as me - made a good noise too!

After returning from a relatively short stroll to the Valley of Rocks, we relaxed on the balcony overlooking the Bristol Channel and enjoyed the glorious weather, Gill's homemade lasagne and more than a glass or two - and the moon seemingly rising out of the oggin somewhere off Porthcawl.

We were looking for the witch, which we couldn't see, but we did see a nun on the run (well walking actually) shortly afterwards...


Not a bad view to wake up to

Our first strenuous walk from Lynton was down to Lynmouth, then up the coast path to Foreland Point, on to Countisbury and then back down through wooded valleys to Watersmeet. The reward, apart from the extensive views of the Bristol Channel from the top, was a crab sandwich and a pint or two back in Lynmouth before climbing back up to Lynton. Alas we didn't take the funicular railway as there was a lengthy queue, but we (apart from Ann) have done that before so we took some photos instead. The day was ended with an excellent Thai meal at The Cottage Inn, a relatively short stroll away.

Lynmouth Harbour

Foreland Point - hold on to yer titfers...


On Wednesday we moved on to Combe Martin, the goal being to climb Little Hangman Hill.

Ann is shorter than me, but not by as much as this photo suggests - the car was parked on a downhill slope!

Some 55 years ago, my parents 'parked' my pushchair (it not being an off-road model) in a convenient bush half way up Little Hangman Hill, to be retrieved on the descent, and my sister carried me on her shoulders the rest of the way. This time we both walked to the summit...

Again, more than 50 years ago, as a family we used to chug around Watermouth Cove in a boat built by my father, trusty British Seagull outboard on the transom:

Watermouth Cove, as seen (zoomed) from the top of Little Hangman Hill


The descent

After a quick lunch back in Combe Martin we moved on to The Town Farmhouse, our accommodation for the next two nights in Mortehoe. After a freshen-up we set off on foot to Woolacombe to obtain liquid provisions, then returned to Barricane Beach, where we each enjoyed meat & two veg - three Sri Lankan curries that is, from the pop-up (actually crane-down rather than pop-up) Barricane Beach Café on the beach - excellent food in a wonderful setting.

My mother above the same beach, about six years ago

We then made our way back uphill ('uphill' was a constant theme of the week), via the coast path, to return to The Chichester Arms, not 50 yards from our accommodation.


As a small child I spent plenty of time sitting on this wall with a glass of lemonade and a bag of crisps - my tipple of choice has changed but the wall hasn't...

On Thursday after 'the big breakfast' we set off on our longest, and most strenuous, walk of the week - Mortehoe to Lee Bay, then back along the coast path, via Morte Point, to Mortehoe - some 9 miles and many elevation changes on one of the hottest days of the year. Lee Bay is a significant place for me - it is where my mother had to shoo away an uncontrolled dog from p!ssing on my carrycot - this might explain, along with my milkround days of "he's only playing", why I am more of a cat person...

Fungi in woods leading to Lee Bay




A cat I befriended on the way to Lee Bay

Lee Bay

"Is that Sherpa Tenzing? No, she looks fairly relaxed to me..."

Their best sides?

Bull Point Lighthouse

Seals off Morte Point

Finally, in case you were wondering, no, we haven't bought the MG - we 'chartered' her from Perranwell Garage, and very fine she was too. Mind you they do have a very tempting V12 XJS for sale...

Finally finally, thanks to sister Gill and brother-in-law Ian for organising (apart from the Lynton accommodation, that was my work!) a perfect itinerary for a relaxing and laughter filled week, taking in wonderful scenery, food & drink.

Finally, finally, finally:

Audrey MacKellar, 1929 - 2023

Sandy (Douglas Alexander) (A.K.A. John in the pub!) MacKellar, 1926 - 1984