Today was a good day to end the trip. We left our very nice B & B (excellent breakfast of smoked salmon) and walked back into the town to rejoin the path. We wound through the edge of Westward Ho, into the little village of Appledore, with its lifeboat station and prettily coloured houses.
Appledore is an old harbour, used for years for salmon fishing. It is the location for the ferry across to Instow. There was a slight hitch when Chris realised he had forgotten his phone. A frantic call to the B & B arranged for Mrs B & B to drive round to meet us on the other side of the ferry with the offending article.
We had an excellent coffee in the wholefood café and shop at Instow whilst Chris’s phone was en route. Although it was early for elevenses, the cake looked extremely yummy, so we took the opportunity to load up on calories early. Not that today’s walk was difficult – it took us along the south bank of the River Taw, which meanders gently into Barnstaple, with mudflats, marsh and various bits of old engineering to interest us, particularly the old Instow railway station, on the route between Barnstaple and Fremington.
We watched some workers fixing the old railway bridge crossing an inlet. They had their work cut out – every time they tried to push the full barrow up the bank, they slipped and slid in the mud. We marked them for barrow-running technique as we munched our lunch. The older chap had more technique, the younger ones, brute force.
I was delighted to find two of the Sustrans cycle way markers, that I haven’t seen for ages. There were loads in Kent, but they have been few and far between since. Like most flat journeys, the walk seemed to take a longer time than expected.
We arrived in Barnstaple at around 4pm. Jon and Chris elected to call it a day, as Jon is now going inland to pursue his end-to-end journey by going across Exmoor and has refused to accept my pleas to divert to the coast as it would mean going west again. I decided to continue along the north side of the River Taw as far as Braunton. Other than crossing the modern road bridge, which saves a good mile on going into the town to cross the old bridge, It was a very dull walk, mostly paved, and there was a rather creepy bloke on the path who kept stopping, then when I passed him, started again, passed me and stopped. But he didn’t actually say or do anything.
I popped up onto the main road just outside Braunton and got a bus back to Barnstaple. We are staying in an enormous old rectory, high up in the attic. Doing the extra to Braunton also gave me five more miles, bringing the day to 22, the longest I have done since the crazy Seaton to Exmouth stretch on Day 28.