Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Holiday part 2

We decided to ignore the weather, as there were frequent sunny spells amongst the blustery rain, and drive to Westward Ho which didn’t exist before Charles Kingsley’s novel of the same name. A school was built and Rudyard Kipling was educated there completing the literature connection.

The beach stretches all the way to the Taw/Torridge estuary backed by the Northern Burrows, and Pebbleridge is a natural phenomenon nearly two miles long. As we drove down towards the sea we were struck by a high bank on the left with enormously high houses – four and five storied.

The weather was miserable, I didn’t know what we would find at the end of the narrowing road so when we saw the Pier House Hotel with an empty space in front we parked and went in search of coffee. Inside there were very large rooms with great windows looking out onto a terrace. The terrace was surrounded by great rain-lashed windows which a window cleaner was doggedly attempting to clean.

We ordered coffee and as soon as there was a break in the weather I went onto the terrace and down steep steps to the beach. Walking along the cliff I marvelled at the turbulent seas and rugged cliffs. When they were constructing Westward Ho a pier was built outside the hotel in 1870 but in 1880 the storms washed it away. At low tide, apparently, one can see the iron stanchions.

It overlooked Bideford Bay and Lundy Island. Having seen an old photo of the pier I’m amazed it lasted for ten years.

Back in the hotel we admired a large photo over the bar, of one of the first surfers. There were some fascinating old family photos around the room and as we were looking at them, a gentleman came up and told us the elderly couple we were looking at were his great grandparents ; the six young men were their sons and the four young ladies their daughters. He was the owner of the hotel and sat and chatted with us.

I felt a little mean when we said goodbye that we weren’t staying for lunch but I’d noticed a sign on the way there pointing to the Riversford Hotel which had a restaurant overlooking the river. We’ll save the Pier House Hotel for another time. By the time we reached the Riversford Hotel the sun was out but we cravenly eschewed the terrace and admired the view from indoors.

After yet another excellent meal, on the way back to Instow I got MTL to drop me by the Taw Bridge and walked back along the Tarka Trail to the cottage. We were lucky – throughout the week neither of us got wet.


DUTA said...

I like family hotels - especially in bad weather time, when they offer you warm, family-like hospitality.

Pat said...

Duta: Welcome:)
I collected a list of at least four I would be happy to stay in during this week. Just now with MTL recovering it is easier to stay in a cottage so we can do exactly as we please.

john.g. said...

Lovely, as usual!

Pat said...

John.G thank you;)

R. Sherman said...

Been catching up since I returned home from the sea. Lots of good, fresh seafood. Makes me want to become more salty than my Midwestern, Ozark Mountain heritage.

Poignant story about the officer on the HMS Prince Of Wales. I'm afraid, men like that are few and far between these days.

Beautiful pics, as always.

(Sorry for less than ideal, pithy comments, dear.)


lom said...

I am going to show hubby this, I don't think we have never walked any of the Tarka Trail

Pat said...

Randall: delighted to have you back. Seafood is great and healthy too. Look forward to reading what you have been up to. Take it easy - it takes a while to pick up the reins again.

LOM: then you oughter or you can cycle . Cycles are for hire and it's all flat. You'd love it I'm sure:)

Guyana-Gyal said...

I googled Westward Ho! It's the first time I've ever heard of a place being named after a book. I love it.

The Water Babies by Kingsley...everyone should read it!

Pat said...

GG: it must be rare that that happens. I'm not sure I ever read the Water Babies - I'll investigate in a quiet moment:)