Devon: The Home of Cream Teas, Two Coastlines and Wildlife Galore!
Decades ago, as a young whipper-snapper, I spent many summers romping through the bounteous fields of Devon.
One particular year sticks out in my mind as being worth remembering. The year was 1978, I was 14-years old and hopelessly in love with the great outdoors. Unlike many of my peers (who would dedicate their summers attempting to score drugs from various older teenagers) I was content with the kind of frolicking that was fast growing out of fashion: namely wandering through fields and attempting to spot some of the more elusive animals that roamed through this stately, handsome land.
My memories of that time are of blissful peace, and are no doubt victim to the kind of rose-tinted nostalgia that oversaw the shock result of the Brexit referendum. Still, after many pinches of salt have been taken, I can say with confidence that my memories of this county were not completely clouded by misty-eyed longing. Having just returned from a long weekend in Devon I’m happy to report that this place is perhaps more beguiling that I remember it being, full to the brim with cosy pastoral nooks and a bewildering range of wild creatures.
Driving down to Devon I’m assaulted with the kind of warming sense of comfort akin to eating a time-worn family recipe. It had been decades since I’d visited this part of the world, but somehow the landscape seemed familiar. The M5 motorway is hardly the most picturesque way to be introduced to Devon, but that doesn’t stop me from getting carried away down memory lane. As soon as these familiar rolling hills begin to appear, I took left turn and ordered my Satnav to ignore any more motorway routes, I wanted to delve into the country lanes of my childhood…
As I left behind the noise of the highway, I turned my radio off and rolled the windows down. The balmy summer air, heavy with the scent of flowering buds, wafted through my nose. I found myself drifting back into old memories, until a fox darted out of a hedge forcing me to brake drastically. The creature was momentarily stunned and then lithely padded across the road and into the opposite hedge, on its way to terrorise some chickens, no doubt.
After settling down in my B&B in dusky village, I fumbled my way through a couple of country lanes, in search of a pint of ale. I was pointed in the direction of The Catherine Wheel, which I soon stumbled across in the village of Hemyock. This charming little settlement might not have had much in the way of wildlife, but it was certainly full of some characters. Young locals mingled with their older, craggier counterparts and rowdy conversations got rowdier as the night wore on.
The next day I made my way out of the B&B, battling a rather mean headache, and down to my next destination: Dartmoor.