Friday, 24 March 2017

Appledore to Instow (South West Coast Path 92)

Appledore seen from Instow

We are back on the Coast Path after an 18 month absence (I ruptured a tendon in my ankle). We have done quite a lot of walking meantime, but this will be the first time we have done four successive days in that time. We should really resume the walk at Bude, but it seemed more sensible to start with an easy section. We start off from the car park in Appledore and wander along The Quay, made in 1845 place of a number of private jetties. We turn right into Marine Parade, where we enjoy this interesting terrace.


We pass a small shipyard and various industrial operations to reach the estuary of the River Torridge (Appledore is near the mouth of the river where it meets the river Taw before flowing into the Celtic Sea. As we turn right along the river back we are struck by a group of derelict boats.


A bit further on, in a small wooded bay, is this boat, apparently in effect a house boat - we saw someone who was presumably the owner hard at work with a chain saw.


We continued along the side of the river to gain increasingly clear views of the impressive Torridge Bridge. The bridge was opened in 1987. Sadly, it seems that it has been the site of several suicides.


We were now in the orbit of Bideford and soon had a clear site of its famous Long Bridge. This is said to have been first built by Sir Theobald Grenville in the 14th century and the present structure is supposed to date from the 15th (Pevsner). Pevsner adds that much of the present stonework dates from repairs in 1638 and widening in 1865. It is impressive however at 677 feet long.


Just before the bridge is a statue of Tarka the Otter, hero of the stories by Henry Williamson.


Looking back from the bridge is the Town Hall and Library (on the left), mostly of 1905 by J A Dunn of Birmingham. Pevsner describes it as "quite a playful free Tudor". It is certainly rather charming.


Having crossed the bridge, we turned left to walk up the other bank of the Torridge and now we were sharing the route with the Tarka Trail. It apparently follows the route taken by Tarka the Otter and covers a total of 180 miles (290 km) in a figure-of-eight route, centred on Barnstaple. This section follows the disused, but now tarmaced railway line between Bideford and Barnstaple.

Soon we saw another, even more striking, derelict boat.


We passed under the Torridge Bridge and passed the entrance to Tapeley Park, a house of about 1700 remodeled in a neo-Renaissance style in 1898-1916. We had earlier caught a glimpse of the house on its high vantage point.


Walking along a tarmac track is not that exciting, but things picked up when we reached Instow where the former platform remains intact complete with benches, despite the new housing behind it.


At the end is the original signal box of about 1855 with the remains of the level crossing.


After this the SWCP and the Tarka Trail parted company for a while and we walked along the seafront (you can just make out the open sea at the mouth of the combined estuary of the Torridge and the Taw) to the car park behind the dunes at the north end of the village.

Distance: 7.1 miles.

Grading: Easy.

Map: Explorer 139 (Bideford, Ilfracombe & Barnstaple )

Rating: Three and a half stars. Quite interesting.

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