Lynton & Lynmouth have been a part of my geographical vocabulary since I was very young, courtesy of family connections with the area (to the North Cliff hotel), however this week was the first time I visited for any length of time under my own steam in my adult life. And what an absolute pleasure it was.
A mixture of wonderful snippets of memories of childhood trips there along with exploring new aspects I had no idea about made for a brilliant 24 hours. Famous for the severe flood of 1952 and its water-powered cliff railway, and accessed by some pretty exciting roads (1:4 gradients and the like) Lynton sits atop the hill, with Lynmouth at the bottom. As luck would have it my B&B for the night saw me down in Lynmouth. I say luck as, had I been staying in Lynton, I may not have felt like tackling the hill but as it was a brief wander around Lynmouth reminded me that the better shops / restaurants etc. were at the top of the hill – so up I went.
After a rather gorgeous portion of freshly made chips (complete with skins still on) from The Nook which I got to eat looking out over the cliffs at the sea in the very friendly and welcoming churchyard of the parish church I pootled over to the Lynton Cinema for a showing of Mr Holmes. Lovely little cinema for a very touching film – and a very evocative walk home down the hill.
The B&B I was at was located on one of those slightly unnerving roads where there’s evidence it’s possible to turn round (in the form of cars pointing the other way) but no visual clues as to where that turning point may be – so before settling in to bed for the night I walked to the end of the road and found…the turning point. I also found a plaque referencing the washed away hamlet of Middleham and a tourist info board pointing me in the direction of a National Trust place I’d found online – a mere mile and a half away. No, I didn’t stomp up there in the gloaming, but I did lodge it in my mind for the next day. The references around Lynmouth to the flood of 1952 are very touching – I passed another plaque opposite a cross that had been erected. It was obviously a major trauma for the community, and possibly continues to be so, but the response to it felt really appropriate and touching to me.
So, I went to sleep with the sound of the river rushing outside my window (various analogies popped up in my head that sleeping by a rushing river possibly wasn’t the best way to start my holiday of slowing down) and awoke to a day that saw a gorgeous ramble up the river and back – and another delightful discovery.
Little did I know there used to be a bottling plant on the banks of the East Lyn River which, along with bottling the mineral water also brewed ginger beer. Alas, my ginger beer consumption came to late to save the plant from closure (due to lack of demand) but, again, it was washed away in the floods. The photo on the information board was of a beautiful old building which I struggled to comprehend fitting on this very green and rugged-looking bank but the mantle-piece and hearth remain so I did place it to a certain extent. So grateful to the people who capture this history in little nuggets for the rest of us. A very unexpected treat.
As was my next delight: a wild dunk. Calling it wild swimming would be too strong, but wild dunking it certainly was – a brief immersion in the river before continuing my walk. Apologies for the upside-down photos – for some reason my blog has decided that uploading them the right way round is not part of the plan and the sun is beckoning so sorting out upside down photos isn’t top of the list! One day…
Not long after I was departing Lynton/Lynmouth on my ongoing journey into the wilds of the South West, a visit to Arlington Court (complete with personal tour of some of the history of the building – wasn’t designed as such but being the only person who turned up for the 12-o-clock tour it turned out that way) and then on to visit my great Aunt in Barnstaple. The weather is being very kind: although misly yesterday morning the utter downpour of the day happened while I was driving and cleared to gorgeous sunshine for my drive to my B&B. Happy Tigger.