Travel: Devon, England – September 2013

South West England – Divine Devon

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Woolacombe Beach

Woolacombe Beach

September 2013.  This is a long weekend in Devon at a 5 Star hotel (Wildercombe House) just on the edges of Ilfracombe. I spend the morning writing – working on a new novel, Oakfield before abruptly I’m throwing some things into a bag and jumping into Sarah G’s car with her twin sister Oj, driving south and west. Daft Punk Random Access Memories is the soundtrack to the trip and it becomes epic. 3 hours later we’re parking up at this incredible beach. Woolacombe. I leave the girls and surge ahead to walk along the water’s edge – and then take off my boots, roll up my trousers – and I am wading along through the shallow waves. Utterly loved it.

It’s been well over a year since I was last in Hayling Island – the place where I usually get a “fix” of the sea. So I really enjoyed being able to commune with the ocean. Alone. Walking along with my headphones on. Warm breeze on my skin. Wonderful.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - shoes off lying on the beach at Woolacombe

Shoes off lying on the beach at Woolacombe

I walked away from the edge of the sea and plonked myself down on the warmer, drier sand above the tide line. Sat there for ages gazing at the few people who wandered by. Just sooooo nice. A real memory.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger  - strange towers

Ilfracombe – strange towers

We spent a good couple of hours at the beach. Then we drove to Ilfracombe. Checked into the hotel – which is spacious and family run, reminding me greatly of Tredethy House. Then we headed down into the town – and – got – a – very – strange – vibe. It’s an odd place.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Church of the Starry Wisdom Cult

Ilfracombe – Church of the Starry Wisdom Cult?

Church of the Starry Wisdom Cult? The town holds onto this rough, almost downtrodden edge where tourists wander around unaware of the undercurrents of dark designs that go on. It wasn’t unpleasant. Just… odd. Ilfracombe could certainly be a location used in a Lovecraftian tale; from Innsmouth to Kingsport. There is something about it. I like the place.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Fantastic sunset on stormy sea

Ilfracombe – Fantastic sunset on stormy sea

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - interesting roof

Ilfracombe

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Verity a 20 metre bronze statue of half-skinned pregnant woman by Damien Hirst

Verity – by Damien Hirst

We pressed on towards the marina and found a whole section of lovely places. And this incredible 20 metre high statue of a pregnant woman holding a sword aloft. Except, there’s something a little strange about this sculpture… on one side.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Full Moon and Ghostly Clouds

Ilfracombe – Full Moon and Ghostly Clouds

The whole Mythos vibe only grew when I discovered a bloated full moon hanging over the nearby hills, catching the edges of the clouds in this dramatic fashion.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Verity by Damien Hirst in light of full moon

Ilfracombe – Verity by Damien Hirst in light of full moon

It’s like a scene from DUNE, when the Mentat arrives on the planet Harkonnen and bronze statues gleam wetly in the harsh glare of an alien star – voracious shadows everywhere.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger  - A Mythos Moon on Dark Waters

Ilfracombe – A Mythos Moon on Dark Waters

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Saunton Sands

Saunton Sands

The next morning was a dream. Up earlish in the solid comfort of the hotel suite. Downstairs for an epic Full English breakfast. Then off – driving through beautiful devon roads. We stopped in Croyde – where I had the best cup of coffee in my life.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Clovelly

Clovelly

We went to Clovelly, which is a historic fishing village that tumbles down steep cobbled streets to a harbour – way way way down below. You have to pay to enter the village and you have to leave your vehicles at the top of the cliffs (there is a free car park). Don’t be put off by the entrance fee. Clovelly is a must-see (sea) part of Devon. It is one heck of a walk down and even bigger heck of a walk coming back up – make sure you grab a pint or two at the rough edged hotel bar at the bottom.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - tea towel from Clovelly

Tea towel from Clovelly

The tea towel says it all.

Travel Photo England Devon  by David J Rodger - Clovelly - The Cottage Tea Rooms - Delightful invitation to English cream tea

Clovelly – Delightful invitation to English cream tea

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Clovelly harbour

Clovelly harbour

Near the end of the road. You can get a sense of the height of the switchback, as the cobbled path zig-zags down from high above to this harbour area. The Red Lion Hotel Bar. OK for a drink but I’d be wary of ordering food from here. A little further up the path is a guy selling FRESH caught seafood in baguettes. Yum!

Travel Photo England Devon -Selfie shot of David J Rodger outside pub in Clovelly

David J Rodger outside pub in Clovelly – Drinking Doombar

We grabbed seats outside the Red Lion just as the sun began to shine. Bliss.

Travel Photo England Devon  David J Rodger - Clovelly Harbour

Clovelly Harbour

Travel Photo England Devon by David J Rodger Westward Ho - Decaying house alone on a cliff

Westward Ho! – Decaying house alone on a cliff

Some more driving around delightful Devon roads. We stopped off at Westward Ho! where I had some of the best battered fish. Delicious. A bit of a walk and wander. We passed this fantastic crumbling house perched on the edge of cliff. An elderly local came past and asked what was our interest: we thought it was vacant. She told us that a woman who was in her 80s still lives in the place – has done all her life. Too old and too frail and with no family to help, the place is slowly decaying away.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger Wildercombe House by full moon

Ilfracombe – Wildercombe House by full moon

Back to our hotel – Wildercombe House – after another night down by the harbour. Returning under the glare of a full moon, our hotel jutted up from the high rocks like a manor house from a horror film. Fantastic.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger Wildercombe House main reception hall

Ilfracombe – Wildercombe House, main reception hall

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger Wildercombe House  - the lounge perfect for a Murder Mystery

Ilfracombe – Wildercombe House – the lounge: perfect for a Murder Mystery

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Wildercombe House  how it used to look before the war

Ilfracombe – Wildercombe House how it used to look before the war

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Union Jack flag flapping in the wind

Ilfracombe – Union Jack flag flapping in the wind

After checking out of the hotel we went back down into the town for a lazy morning. I left Oj and Sarah G to their shopping and went clambering all over the place.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - statue of woman smiling and welcoming the winds

Ilfracombe – statue of woman smiling and welcoming the winds

Wonderful figure of an elemental welcoming the wind that howls in off the sea before rushing over the hills.

Travel Photo England Devon Ilfracombe by David J Rodger - Verity a 20 metre tall statue of half-skinned pregnant woman by Damien Hirst

Ilfracombe – Verity by Damien Hirst

The enormous 20 metre statue by daylight and from the more macabre side. Such a bizarre thing to greet returning fisherman and visitors who arrive by sea, don’t you think? Not a criticism. Just a potent image to see straddling the harbour area.

Credit: all photos are copyright David J Rodger, with exception for hero feature image which is Combe House – external view – source unknown (please advise and I will credit).

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5 thoughts on “Travel: Devon, England – September 2013

    • Heh-he. *wiggles eyebrows* There certainly were a few. But not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the place. Definitely a Lovecraftian setting. Interesting to note that the novel I’m working on now is set just a few miles south west of this place. Along the same coast. Nice!

  1. Looks fabulous, terrific descriptions. There’s great power kiting winds in Westward Ho. And how very depressing, that poor lady all on her own, with that lovely house crumbling around her.

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