The first couple of days hiking the South West Coast Path in Somerset had been a success and we were eager for the bigger challenge to present itself. North Devon, by its reputation, would either make or break us and we were keen to know whether we had what it takes to carry on and complete the whole track. Concerns included the many steep hills to come, possibility of sustained bad weather, difficulty in finding camp sites, and ultimately whether we would get to a stage where we just stopped enjoying ourselves.
It couldn't have started any better. We dropped in to Lynton to replenish camping supplies, had a couple of coffees on the high street, and then headed out straight into the Valley of Rocks in glorious sunshine. Stunning. The wild camp site for the night was perched on the edge of Highveer Point with no tent erected due to the warm temperatures. None of us have slept outside all night so it was an exciting new experience. It was on the cold and blustery side, and we didn't repeat it for the rest of the trip, but I'm glad we had an opportunity to do it and it is the fondest wild camp memory for me of the whole SWCP.
The North Devon section of the SWCP is unusual in that there is no ferry to get you across the River Taw, so you have to navigate all the way via Barnstaple and Bideford to get back to the coast, a round trip of over 20 miles. The track loses its wildness in this section, but we had fun nonetheless and really enjoyed our rest day in The Wayfarer Inn at Instow.
Westward Ho! to Bude is probably the wildest section of the SWCP. We walked it in some of the wildest weather we encountered on the whole trip, adding to its character. All told, North Devon really delivered a full SWCP experience with great hiking, great camping and great views. It had some low points of course, but overall we voted it our favourite county section.