137 Hartland Quay to Hartland Point

Today I plan to walk the short distance from Hartland Quay to Hartland Point, before lunch and a long journey home. Only 3 miles.

01 Ruth Livingstone setting off Hartland Quay

It is a glorious day. The car park at Hartland Quay is deserted, apart from a few chirpy birds. And plenty of DANGER signs.

02 bird on danger sign, Ruth's coastal walk, Devon

I look back to the south, at Screda Point and its sharp rocks. The low light gives a dramatic shape to the landscape, the north facing cliffs are shadowy and menacing.

03 Screda Point, Hartland Quay, Ruth's coast walking

But  I am heading northwards. Leaving the car park, I walk past yet more warning signs, following the road for a short distance until I can pick up the South West Coast Path again.

04 danger sign, Hartland quay, Ruth Livingstone's walk

A short climb and I am up on the cliff top, walking across a flat, open area. This is called Warren Cliff. An easy stroll. Lundy Island is ahead, just off the coast.

05 Warren Cliff and Lundy Island, Ruth's coastal walk, Hartland

The remains of a ruined tower stand in the field. I think this used to be a watchtower, but I’m not sure. It is marked on my OS map with the words: “Tower (ruin)”. Nothing more, not even a name.

06 Warren Cliff and ruin, Ruth's coastal walk, Hartland

When I reach the promontory called Dyer’s Lookout, the ground falls away into the valley and the mouth of the Abbey River. This marks the end of any easy walking for the day.

Ignoring the well trodden path that cuts across the slope, and sticking as close to the edge as I can, above the sea, I slowly make my way downwards.

07 Blegberry Beach and Blackpool Mill, Ruth's coast walking, Hartland

I have to walk inland a short distance to find the footbridge over the river.

On the flat piece of ground at the mouth of the river I see an elderly couple preparing to go up the steep path from Blackpool Mill Cottage. She is adjusting his rucksack for him. The way up is a steep flight of narrow steps, carved into the hillside. I hurry because I want to start climbing before they start, suspecting they will be even slower than I am.

08 elderly couple, Blackpool Mill, Ruth walking North Devon

The climb is steep and narrow and the path winds along a series of ledges above the shingle of Blegberry Beach. Below a couple of dramatic waterfalls empty onto the shore.

waterfall at Blegberry Beach, Ruth's coast walk, Hartland, North Devon

Unfortunately these north facing cliffs are in deep shadow and this makes photography difficult. I am unable to properly capture the beauty of this amazing place.

Beyond Blegberry Cliff is a strange crescent-shaped valley, curving around a mounded hump of land, an area called Smoothlands on my map. My knee is hurting again today and I decide not to follow the official South West Coast Path down to the bottom of the strange valley. In any case, it looks boring down there with no view of the sea.

10 looking over Smoothlands, Hartland, Ruth walking the coast in North Devon
I stick to the high ridge, walking along a path that turns out to be more difficult than I anticipated, with a furrowed surface, lots of sheep droppings, and encroaching gorse bushes. When I get to the end of the ridge, I have a clear view across yet another river valley to the slopes of Upright Cliff and the high line of Blagdon Cliff beyond.

11 Upright Cliff, Ruth walking in Hartland, North Devon
But when I look back at the humpy hill behind, I see there is a path running all the way along its top ridge. What a shame! Pain or no pain, I would have enjoyed walking along that edge of those sheer cliffs above the sea.  And, just to make matters worse, a few minutes later I see my elderly couple coming down that same steep path. If they could do it, why didn’t I try?

12 Smoothlands path, Ruth walking the SW Coast Path, North Devon
I check my map. The path on the cliff is not marked. But it is too late now.

Back on the official South West Coast Path, I walk on the flat along the side of the valley, before the path dips down to cross the stream at the bottom. Here I find my husband waiting for me beside the bridge and we continue the rest of the walk together.

13 walking inland to foot bridge over to Upright CLiff, Ruth's coast walking
The bottom of the valley is in shadow, but I take a photograph of this lovely waterfall.

14 waterfall, Upright Cliff, Ruth walking in Hartland, N Devon
There is a steep climb up the other side, and then a long haul up the slope of Upright Cliff. It is a relief to reach the relatively flat land of Blagdon Cliff. Ahead, across fields, we see a small building and a radio tower. Mistakenly, I think this is the Hartland Point Lighthouse and I’m disappointed by its squat structure. Where is the light?

15 Blagdon Cliff, Hartland Point, Ruth walking the SW coast path
Further along, we see a memorial stone for the hospital ship, the Glenart Castle, sunk by a U-boat during the 1st World War. [This was a horrible war crime and more information about the sinking can be found here.]

16 memorial to Glenart Castle, Ruth's coastal walk, Hartland Point
Looking down from Blagdon Cliff we see the Hartland Point Lighthouse. It looks like a proper lighthouse, in a beautiful position at the bottom of the tall cliffs and perched above the sea. But I gather it is now a private residence. I am not sure where the new light is housed.

17 Hartland Point Lighthouse, Ruth's coastal walk, North Devon, SWCP
These waters are extremely treacherous. I have seen how sharp and unforgiving the rocks are, stretching like lines of giant razor blades into the sea, extending well beyond the shore. The ruffling of the waves just off the tip of Hartland Point indicates hidden rocks just below the surface.

And we soon come upon a reminder of another shipping disaster, a cargo ship called Johanna. Luckily all crew members were rescued with no fatalities.

18 information about the wreck of The Johanna, Ruth's coastal walk
The remains of the Johanna shipwreck still lie on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff.

18 wreck below Hartland Point, Ruth Livingstone
We pass the road that leads down to the lighthouse. It has gates and fences and notices saying the lighthouse is closed to the public. The tone of the notices all suggests the lighthouse is still in the hands of Trinity House.

19 the lighthouse is closed, Hartland Point, Ruth walking around the coast
Across Barley Bay is a radar station on the top of West Titchberry Cliff. But our walk today is ending. We just need to find the car.

20 car park and Radar Station, West Titchberry Cliff, Ruth's coast walk
There is a car park overlooking the sea, but the road is gated and the gate is locked. My husband had to park on the verge further up the road. Why is the car park locked?

22 Hubby at Hartland Point, coastal walking

Here is the possible reason. The Hartland Heliport. This might look like a couple of unprepossessing sheds, but it is an important route to Lundy Island and we presume that the heli-passengers use the car park, which is locked after the helicopter flights leave.

21 Heliport, Hartland Point, Ruth's coastal walk

I have taken 2 hours to cover 3 miles, but it has been a great day of walking. Why hurry?

And now I have rounded Hartland point, my long slog northwards up the coast from Padstow has come to an end. It has been an extraordinarily beautiful and challenging stretch of coastline. Next time I will be heading east, towards Barnstable.

Miles walked today = 3
Total miles walked = 1,339

Vertical height climbed since Padstow = 16,522 feet

Mount Everest rises to 29,000 feet above sea level, and I have climbed well over half this height. But, if you set off to climb Mount Everest, you don’t start at sea level, you start at the base.  The most generous base to summit climb is 15,260 feet.

So, I think it is fair to say that, in the past eight days of my coastal walking, I have climbed the equivalent of the height of Mount Everest!


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 09 Devon. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 137 Hartland Quay to Hartland Point

  1. Rita Bower says:

    Well done Ruth! Sounds like a hard slog, but with the fantastic views making it worthwhile. Sorry you missed the cliff path….I’ve managed to do that too, on more than one occasion – either that, or I get too close to the cliff edge & have to retrace my steps!

  2. mariekeates says:

    I’m sorry you missed the cliff path but I know what it’s like when your knee is hurting. It sounded like a nice walk anyway. 🙂

    • Hi Marie, the irony is I often go off the official path to walk closer to the sea, and usually end up stranded on a precipice or wading through thorny bushes. But this time, there was a proper path! So it would have been relatively easy :/

  3. Karen White says:

    The history of the Glenart Castle sinking males very sad reading. How atrocious to torpedo a hospital ship.
    The Hartland Point Lighthouse would be an amazing place to live, I’d never tire of the incredible views.

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