West Down is a little village to the north-west of Barnstaple. We had walked through this pretty village once before and decided to do a reverse loop on Jonno’s Birthday. One of the nice things about being in a location for a little while is post arriving. A bit of a novelty for us to be honest. So with the birthday parcels and cards opened, picnic treats packed we headed off into the sunshine.
What we like about this walk is that during the first stages we pass a lake (man-made), a ford, through fields full of sheep, then one with a couple of horses, round the back of a small holding full of bedding plants, pass by an organic farm and finally down a long lane to our first stop off. The Community Shop in West Down.
It is an Aladdins Cave of local produce and essentials. Threatened with closure the community took it over in 2012 and it is run as a not-for-profit venture and it is going strong. Unfortunately we didn’t boost the sales much as we were walking on much further so it was only a birthday ice cream each. A little bench in the shade in the church yard overlooking the church which is dedicated to Saint Callixtus (a Roman Bishop evidently) was the perfect spot.
That little treat would carry us forward to our picnic stop near Pembroke Farm, a tiny little cottage nestled in the valley. For this next stage we walk through a wooded area with signage saying it there is a wild boar farm although we have never seen any. We had our birthday picnic on a grassy bank overlooking the valley and were joined by a very inquisitive horse. He obviously wanted us to share!
The final leg took us down through the bottom of the valley alongside the River Caen then onto some fishing lakes and holiday cottages (deserted) and then along some footpaths and lanes back to our little home. Around 12 beautiful sunny miles in all.
After devouring a chicken, bacon and mushroom pie that, just like Blue Peter, I had prepared earlier, we now needed to use some brain power for the infamous family quiz. We always love these evenings and scheduling it for Jonno’s birthday made it extra special.
All in all a memorable birthday, I hope. Although tucking into the Coffee and Walnut birthday cake wasn’t easy! Better luck next year Jonno!