Flash sunshine weekend and Friday night dilemma! First instinct – pub. Reactionary thought – yeah, me and the rest of London scrambling for an inch of beer garden in office wear, not so good. Second instinct – home and shower. Reactionary thought – it’s nice and cool in the house, I think I’ll stay in for a bit. Third instinct – PANIC! the precious hours of sunshine are ticking away and soon it will be evening, make a desicion quick! Saved by the phonecall – “We’re off to Devon with the camper for the weekend, do you fancy coming?” Hell yeaah, grab the b/f and the dog and off we go on 5 hour road trip to North Devon – Combe Martin.
Previous feedback on this particular site worried me… the owners sounded a little on the grumpy side and had a thing about arrival time. Not in the spirit of ‘getting away from it all’ but I wasn’t in of a position to be choosy. I really had no need to worry, although one of the owners clearly had a black hole in place of social etiquette other campers more than made up for it. From the moment we jumped out onto the well manicured tiered pitches we’d made friends with those around us – although there was plenty of space to create a healthy distance and avoid waking others up with talking/rustling/snoring and the usual sounds that mysteriously magnify when on a campsite. Water and electric points aplenty all facilities were a few sets of steps away. Pitches closer to said facilities could also obtain step-less access to everything except the swimming pool. Yup, this camp just about has it all. That’s just as well, really as it’s some way to civilisation so it’s well worth being well prepared for this one.
Across the way is a more basic site which has a public walkway and some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen in Britain. What it lacks in rugged costal line is compensated by idyllic coves and inlets, each 45 degree turn brings another image usually equated with fantasy paintings to life. A choice of walks led us to a steep, dubiously stepped mission to the beach which is a very English jaunt somehow comparable to the sharp inclines of Petra… whilst not as far and minus the donkeys it is every bit as precarious and the emerging views equally awe inspiring. Again, be well prepared with water, sunscreen and snacks as once you have reached your resting spot you will be hard pressed to find a volunteer willing to nip back to camp. Patches of soft sand make perfect bathing spots and whilst no expert in sea temperament the waters appeared to have low current and many swimmers venture a considerable distance. From up high it appears that this is because the left side of the cove has shallow waters that reveal patches of sand at low tide. Despite high heat the waters were painfully cold which made for hours of fun testing endurance levels (low, very low!). By the tide line the stones are sharp but not unbearable and plentiful with smooth, skimmable stones. Passing the time in this way can quickly become a sociable activity with everyone willing to join the competition for number of bounces/distance/time etc.
Sharing the space some of the braver dogs also launch themselves out to sea, distinctly separating my city dog from the locals.
Alternative walks that do not reach the beach are a strong contender for scenery and photo opportunities without the need to clamber back up the never ending stairway. Having been treated to boats passing, watching seagulls at rest in their private refuge and clouds creeping up the mountain sides we could quite happily have traded Napps camp for the more primitive hikers camp however that would have required sacrificing the (empty) swimming pool and camp bar complete with quiz (9ish Saturday nights).
All facilities are clean with plenty of showers and cubicles etc and a large dishwashing room although despite being a hot weekend the site was far from full. A couple of large bear-like dogs and a cat inspect campers activities and I suspect this is how the owners apparently instinctively know if a camper needs assistance with electrics/arials etc and provide on-the-spot assistance. Unfortunately the shop is open for limited hours in the morning but it does have the essentials (Sunscreen, perhaps a little too late!!) and a Cafe serves full English Breakfasts from 8.30 – 10.30. Prices vary between seasons and we are now entering Mid-Season… either way the value is pretty fantastic and I suspect the area has far more to offer than we had time to explore. The sunset in the photograph is realistic, another unexpected experience with a beer-garden or hillside to sit and watch from. And the stars, of course, were sharp against the night sky when navigating back to pitch.