The Baby in the Bush

Run ahead lads and tell me what you can see…. “Err, Dad”.. pause…  “A dead baby in a bush”, but more about that later.

Faster, Faster, Faster, Faster, Stop! By ‘The Beat’ plays in the car and we are stopped. Engine off and people are out of their cars. Flashing blue lights about a dozen cars ahead indicate we could be here a while. A quiet, narrow country lane in Devon is now a car park for caravans, motorhomes, cars and vans. After nearly four hours in the car I emerge from the passenger seat and am very aware that for the first few steps I’m walking like my mum. I seem to creak and groan more since hitting 50. Stretching our legs and word comes back from the front line that a pickup truck has come off the road and currently being retrieved from the bushes by a breakdown truck. Ten minutes later and engines spring into life we’re on the move again.

Winding roads lead to our home for the next few days. Hallsdown Farm welcomes us with an array of animals. A working sheep farm but home to donkeys, ponies, ducks, goats and Trojan, the resident if slightly snooty alpaca who watches over everything.

Having made the acquaintance of the owner, Andrew, on Facebook recently, first impressions of his site are good. Claire, Andrew’s wife, hands over the information leaflet giving us the all important nearest supermarket and places of interest information. Top of the list, chippy. Combe Martin is home to the Top Chippy, the seed has been planted. Guess what’s for tea?

Two chips in and and The Boss announced that these are possibly the best chips he’s had in a long time. Lovely evening so with ketchup planted firmly on the table we decide to eat outside, until the flies smell food and start buzzing around. Hasty retreat inside.

Trip into Barnstaple the following day, home to the locally famous Pannier Market. A walk around the town, which sits on the River Taw, displays a mixture of old and new buildings together. Just after 4pm and all the cafes down by the river are closed, not a cup of tea in sight. You could die of thirst, unless of course you are willing to pay for a coffee in one of the leading high street chains and sit staring at the high street rather than the river. Quick slug on our bottle of water and off we trot. 

Stir fry on the Cadac snaffled and it’s time for a tour of the farm we are staying on. Andrew and his working dog, Benjy, offer tours on Tuesday evenings. Walking boots on and off we go. We wander through fields which are home to the 900 flock of sheep. We quickly realise how far removed us “townies” are from Farm life as Andrew discusses Sheep farming, grazing rotation, hedgerow management, European subsidies, produce pricing, caravan diversification and.. Shh… How Benjy acts like a sheepdog but really is a bit useless.

Next morning we treat ourselves to a Cadac breakfast, I say treat ourselves but it has become a caravan routine and the daily fry-up is now a “fine” guilty pleasure. Fueled up we venture out, once upon a time The Boss planned days out like a military operation, these days we generally go for the ‘see what happens’ approach. We park in Lynton and seconds later we are looking out over the stunning ‘Valley of Rocks’ rock formation with perhaps the best located Cricket Pitch in the country at it’s base and The Bristol Channel plus the entire south coastline of Wales as the spectacular backdrop.

picture: Emily Ludford
Not content to simply admire the views we are soon climbing directly across the ridge of rocks, I am only following so that when he breaks his neck I can retrieve the caravan keys from his pocket. In reality, this is a very tough walk/easy climb and the views at the top were fabulous and highly recommended.

Climbing down was another matter, he realises we need to retrace our entire route across the ridge or take the direct descent down what was basically, drifts of loose rock. Hhmm.. that was fun, I wonder what all the red flags at the foot were telling us.

Upon safely reaching ground level we immediately come across a theatre company rehearsing in the open area between two rock formations. The floodlights pointing both ‘centre stage’ and towards the rocks suggest this is more than the local primary school annual play. We sit on a public bench and inadvertently find ourselves in the best seats for the rehearsal.

“ACTION”  A young woman, babe in arms, is being harassed and surrounded by a man and woman taunting her, they appear to want the baby, she flees, they chase, another man appears and blocks her path. This is now playing out two feet in front of our bench. Three people are now grappling and pulling the young woman before tearing the baby (a doll prop) from her arms. As she is held back the baby is carried to the cliff edge, she is released and runs desperately towards her child only to see it thrown over the cliff before her eyes. We are gripped by the unfolding drama but one can only imagine how it would have looked to people approaching without realising it was theatre. The Actors walk back congratulating each other on a good scene but the props are left. A father and two sons round the bend, Dad spies the Welsh coastline and sends the boys ahead “Run ahead lads and tell me what you can see” …. “Err, Dad”.. pause…  “a dead baby in a bush”. To say that Dad’s expression was priceless would be an understatement.

We do a little Internet research later, the Theatre production is ‘Lorna Doone’ by ‘The Pleasure Dome Theatre Company’ and will be playing from 29th August to 2nd September 2017 at £15 per ticket. Think we may have spoiled the plot a little if you are thinking of going.

We continued into Lynmouth, stopped for cream tea, Jam before Cream, sorry Devon we prefer the Cornish way, then completed the loop to the car via the Victorian Cliff Railway.

We awake next day to the news that middle age people need to walk ten minutes a day to stay healthy, ever the gentleman he says if he walks my little legs off for three hours today I can then put my feet up for three weeks. We heard a fair bit of animal squealing this morning, we open the caravan door and instantly know what it was, Trojan has had a haircut, he’s half the man he was yesterday.

A first today, we are going somewhere our eldest ‘Jellybean’ has recommended and declared a favourite walk, since when did they grow up, middle aged?  indeed we are.

Our destination is Baggy Point at the southern end of Woolacombe/Putsborough beach. As we drive into Woolacombe we try to control hysterical laughter at the car park charges, first one £8, second one £7, third one £6. The Boss applies some misplaced logic and states by the eighth car park it should only be £1. Before we know it we are out of town on incredibly narrow lanes full of cars. We continue to Putsborough Beach car park.. £8.50.. Oh bugger.

We walk past Putsborough Sands Caravan Park, absolutely stunning location and views, however, we find out later on Facebook that it is a little pricey for our taste, £280 per week was mentioned, and how the hell do they get a caravan down them lanes.

Baggy Point was a beautifully scenic walk, we spent some time watching climbers scale the cliffs with a great deal of patience and precision, The Boss chips in “I could walk up there with a good pair of shoes”, he must have his head at a different angle to the rest of us. The walk back was a little longer and he was impressed I only moaned once, albeit from start to finish!

We have enjoyed our four days in Devon. Towing the caravan over five hours deserved a longer visit really and we will have to return to do the area justice. Hallsdown Farm was a relaxing, peaceful site that we would recommend. The perfect place to wind down after a day of Devon ‘tourist’ hustle and bustle.

Our site review for Hallsdown Farm can be found HERE.

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