Section 1. Westward Ho! to Clovelly - Devon Coast Path
Distance 11 miles - Grade Strenuous - What this grade means
You can see the rollercoaster of climbs and descents ahead of you on the Clovelly Ridge as you leave the flatlands of the north Devon dunes, passing the chalets and rows of colourful beach huts to begin this section of walk that will finally take you on into the promised land... Cornwall.
Following the doomed Westward Ho to Bideford railway, an impressive engineering feat that only survived 16 years, you soon start zig zag climbs through wild gorse that rears up and towers over the dramatic pinnacles and formations that mark this stretch of the walk. The steep drop starts with a descent to the beach at Babbacombe Mouth, before a climb up Westacott Cliff following the trail as it picks its way through coastal woodlands of willow and hazel, ablaze with flowers, particularly during the spring.
Passing the remains of the Bronze Age earthworks at Peppercombe Castle after yet another dark descent through the dense undergrowth in Sloo Woods, you emerge into the tiny cleft that is tucked between the woods and the waves known as Bucks Mills. This isolated and far-flung hamlet seems more aligned with the sea than the shore. It's castle-like lime kilns, built to process Welsh Lime brought in by boats that landed (as they still do today) straight onto a rocky beach washed by the gushing stream that spurts down this narrow valley.
The wild, untouched and ancient woodland beyond Bucks Mills is glorious walking and eventually leads to ‘The Hobby Drive’ - a carriageway built in the early 19th century as a grand landscaping scheme by St. James Williams. This makes for a delightful romp looping out and back through dense sycamore, oak, beech and rowan, offering glimpses of Clovelly harbour ahead and long hidden bridges and memorials to the side. A gentle descent brings you to the heights above Devon’s finest fishing hamlet at Clovelly.