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A weekend in North Devon

A shorter post today. I’m writing this whilst sitting comfortably on our new armchair after having spent the weekend exploring the North Devon coastline for Matt’s birthday. Timing was in our favour with campsites reopening the week before we had planned to go and we found ourselves a gem of a site on the western border of Exmoor. South Town Farm is within the grounds of National Trust Arlington Court and allows campfires - an absolute must for us. It was a small site of about 10 tent pitches with basic but adequate facilities and the friendliest of owners. The site had lots of space per pitch, enough to make it feel like you have the place to yourself, and far reaching views across the North Devon countryside. If you’ve never been to North Devon or Exmoor, I would highly recommend it, and this campsite. It truly is a captivating place with a distinctive landscape that sets it apart from other parts of England.

We spent our first day relaxing by the tent and exploring the local area by foot. Arlington Court is surrounded by over 200 acres (I think acres, hectares would be massive!) of land and plenty of beautiful walking routes.

The view from our pitch
Our pitch :)

Even away I wake up before everyone else; our pitch at 630am

Sketch of our tent
Our camping table - getting dinner ready :)
The best camping chairs I've ever sat on.

On Saturday, we took off for another National Trust owned destination: Watersmeet. Oh my goodness, it was lovely. It felt almost like you were in New Zealand and the local architecture gave it an Austrian or perhaps Scandinavian feel. If you go, go early as the car park is teeny and up a very, very windy hill, then walk along the river upstream on the side of the tea rooms. There’s spots to dip your feet in, or if you’re like Matt, keep an eye out for a deeper gorge where you can go swimming, if you don’t mind the freezing cold!

Lunch was a picnic up on the cliffs near a place called Countisbury.

National Trust Watersmeet
Matt's swimming spot

We spent the afternoon in Valley of Rocks. For any geology fans out there, you should definitely take a trip here. Huge rocks, fascinating structures and a challenging walk (more of a scramble and climb!) down to the beach. There’s even goats walking in the road.

The view from the top of the hill you can see in the photo above
The view at the very bottom!

For Matt’s birthday on Sunday, it was a trip to Dunster Castle. The castle itself was closed; COVID-19 still keeping us distant from each other. But the grounds were open if you booked in advanc. The grounds themselves which made the trip worthwhile. The gardens were full of exotic plants and gigantic, gorgeous trees, and the views from the higher parts were just lovely.

An adorable bridge at Dunster Castle
Dunster Castle (bad light for photography!)

A late lunch in Dunster village - a pretty, mediaeval market town that puts modern day towns and developments to shame. They knew how to plan settlements better hundreds of years ago then they do now! It’s no wonder I get frustrated in my urban design day job. These lovely towns didn’t develop around the car, but around people and community.

I’ve been using pen and ink to sketch for the last few months and love it. Urban sketching and reportage is a wonderful way of capturing a moment in time. I love to take a nice photo, but getting the sketchbook out allows you to capture the essence of a place, its atmosphere, movement, colours; sketching captures the world through your eyes, rather than through the eyes of a lens.

A sketch of Matt playing with his birthday present - a Tibetan singing bowl

Sarah x

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