After our lovely trip out to the Hartland Coast, it was time to stretch our legs closer to home the next day. The lovely Sapphire (Sapphie) was happy to act as our guide on an expedition along the Tarka Trail.
The Tarka Trail is an 180-mile (290 km) walking trail in Devon that happens to run right past Pat & Adrian’s house. We’d walked part of it on our last trip, but there was so much more to explore. This time, instead of heading toward Bideford, we went in the direction of Torrington.
Sapphie kept us entertained along the way, picking up tiny sticks and holding onto them like dog cigars.
We followed alongside and eventually crossed the River Torridge as we continued on our walk.
The Tarka Trail is very popular, especially on a nice day, and we passed many cyclists and fellow dog walkers. Unlike our own pups, Sapphie doesn’t care about bikes or barking at other dogs one bit, just calmly plodding alongside. She is partial to a rabbit though!
We made good time so we decided to aim for the Puffing Billy Cafe in Torrington, a great destination to have as our turning point. A significant portion of the Tarka Trail was once railroad, and Puffing Billy is an old station.
It was the perfect spot to relax and have a classic Devon cream tea, maybe the best of the few we had. Look at those fluffy scones!
With the day heating up, it was time to return to Landcross and a relaxed afternoon in the sunny conservatory.
The next day, we were off early in our rental car for the drive to Cornwall, with a few interesting places on the itinerary. About an hour in, we got to our first stop, Bodmin Moor. I’d seen that there were a couple ancient stone circles just off the main road and was really keen to check those out.
The first of the stone circles, and it turns out the only one publicly accessible, was the Trippet Stones. Out on the windswept and overcast moor, with no one but a farmer on a quad bike in the distance in sight, it was a pretty incredible spot.
With estimates placing the Bronze Age Trippet Stones anywhere from 1700 to 2300 BC, they’ve understandably suffered some damage. Out of what is thought to have been 26 original stones, eight remain standing, with others having disappeared or been repurposed over the centuries, and some toppled on the ground. Over the years, farm animals have found the ancient stones make great scratching posts, so some had bits of fluff clinging to them, and erosion at their bases.
Even as a shadow of its former Bronze Age glory, it’s a powerful place.
Standing amongst the stones, you can truly feel the history. I haven’t been to Stonehenge, but I think I much prefer being alone in a profound, ancient place like this, something I noticed when visiting the almost deserted acropolis of Rhodes when compared to the swamped and cordoned-off Parthenon. When it’s quiet, you can sense the immense passage of time, the often-missed deep connection with the past. Bodmin Moor itself, with the exception of some roads, has probably looked much the same for the past 4,000 years.
We could just make out the nearby Stripple Stones on a ridge, but a private farm stood in between, and we didn’t have enough time to try and find our way there.
The Trippet Stones, “trippet” being an allusion to dancing, are thought to be named for young maidens who were turned to stone for cavorting on the Sabbath. I wonder how they feel about livestock using them as scratching posts, after all these years?
Back on the road, we had to navigate around a flock of sheep on the motorway onramp, before heading to the Roseland Heritage Coast. Our destination was the charming seaside town of Portloe.
After navigating the VERY narrow road into town (thanks again Andy), we parked up and set out to explore. Our first adventure was the coastal path, towards West Portholland.
Winding up and down the hills along the coast, we were treated to incredible views along the narrow path.
We didn’t have enough time to go all the way to Portholland, but we got to see it from afar before turning back toward Portloe.
There’s no such thing as a bad vantage point around here. Portloe was everything I pictured and more when it comes to the charming Cornwall coast, like an English Santorini. We’d love to come back sometime and stay a couple nights.
The streets were very quiet on a Wednesday morning, but I can imagine it gets busy during the summer holidays.
We had planned to have lunch at the Luggate Hotel, the white building on the right, but the restaurant wasn’t open yet. Instead, we continued to explore the back streets before heading back to our car.
Bunting was out in full force here, like everywhere else, ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
I don’t think you can get any more quaint or idyllic than Portloe. Hopefully we’ll be back one day for a longer visit, but as for this time, we had to head off for our pre-booked time slot at the epic Eden Project. More to come on that soon!