I started my regular Devon visiting in the mid-80’s when my wife and I would visit a somewhat eccentric elderly aunt (of hers) who lived in a slightly run-down wooden cottage, a building that was once apparently the Woolacombe golf course club house before it was - somewhat implausibly - moved onto the cliffs just outside Mortehoe.
For us, Mortehoe was the default place to head to in both spring and autumn, not too far from Bristol where we were living at the time, but far from the crowds (at least if we were there out of season). When Freda passed away we thought about buying her cottage but decided against it because it seemed at the time to be a bit too far from Oxford but that distance hasn’t stopped us returning regularly since.
We try and get back to Mortehoe every couple of years (although we missed out on the 2008 visit) now staying at the Watersmeet Hotel which really is on the coast between Mortehoe and Woolacombe. The Watersmeet is a slightly old-fashioned country house hotel "built in 1907 as an Edwardian Gentleman's residence by the sea" (as it says on the website). The location is fantastic with every room promising (and delivering) a sea view, and the spectacular dining room faces west, looking out to sea giving you to chance (weather permitting) to watch the sun dipping into the sea as you dine. After a long walk in the sea air and a good dinner, the sound of the waves at high tide on Coombesgate Beach pretty much guarantees a good night’s sleep.
As usual when staying in Mortehoe we walked to both Morte Point and Bull Point, and walked for miles along the beach at Woolacombe. On some visits we‘ve had only the occasionally dog-walker on the beach for company, on this occasion (we were there for the Easter weekend) the beach was littered with hardy picnickers (windbreaks, fleeces and woolly hats) and surfers (wetsuits clearly needed).
Being in North Devon for the Easter weekend also gave us the chance to see things that aren’t on offer at other times of the year - the lambing at Borough Farm, and the Exmoor Border Morris dancers outside The Ship Aground in Mortehoe. A fantastic weekend, and the weather even decided to co-operate.
We’ll certainly be back in Mortehoe again - maybe we don’t need to wait until 2012 to do it.
|Devon April 2010|