After several weeks of weather that has ranged from merely drab and depressing to downright cataclysmic, the spring appears to have finally arrived (just in time for British summertime to begin in a couple of weeks) so it seemed like a good idea to make the most of this beautiful sunny Sunday lunchtime and go for a walk.
Fremington quay, just outside Barnstaple, used to be a busy port, with a railway station, (which now serves as a cafe and heritage centre) steam-powered cranes for loading and unloading cargo vessels and a thriving import/export industry.
The port was a vital link between Bristol and Land’s End, servicing ships that travelled down the North Atlantic coast, exporting the fine white local “ball clay” and importing everything from coal to potatoes.
Nowadays it’s a popular stopover for hikers and cyclists on the Tarka trail and a favourite place for dog walkers and fishermen too.
The tidal river Taw was about halfway in when we got there, the water a vivid blue today in the sunshine and the majestic forms of the Fullabrook Down wind farm turbines visible across estuary.
We made our way along the top of stone quay wall, towards the old iron bridge that crosses a small inlet bordered by mud-flats…
I can never resist a good bridge, they make for great photos, sometimes acting as both subject and frame.
From the path on the other side of the bridge, you can look out over the water to your right, as the estuary narrows ad enters the Taw River valley…
…and to your left, two footpaths, one that takes you along the edge of the inlet, the flats dotted with small boats, the derelict carcasses of long-abandoned craft a sharp contrast with the shiny new ones moored nearby…
…and a second path takes you up through the woods overlooking this small tributary.
We eventually returned to the small viewpoint, looking back toward the quay itself and out across the expanse of the estuary, glorious in the better-late-than-never spring sunshine, before heading back to the car.
(This weekend I spent a very pleasant couple of hours catching up with the elusive and widely-travelled Mr Darmon Richter from The Bohemian Blog, briefly back in the country during a break in his globetrotting schedule.
He had promised to take me on a bit of an urban exploration (urbex) adventure this morning at a local derelict factory complex but was unavoidably detained, prompting a quick change of plan, hence our walk)
Another reminder, should we ever need one, of how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world. If ever your plans fall through, just a few minutes down the road will get you somewhere like this, all for free and all a lot nicer than abandoned industrial buildings.