Roller-Coaster Coast

After a disturbed, restless night for Mike fretting about potentially collapsing house sales, we awoke to yet more of the depressing wet stuff. With the almost constant farm traffic up and down the track between Wortham Manor and the tarmacked road, conditions outside have deteriorated to a scene that would have been at home at the Battle of the Somme. Though regular cars do not actually seem to be losing traction, 4x4s are more comforting. Tractors and caterpillar-track-laying vehicles would be more comforting still. The grass strip outside the building, with only foot traffic, is also becoming waterlogged and treacherous. Our considered opinion is that, with a house that rents for £3500 per week in winter and about £5000 per week in summer, the Landmark Trust really should do something to sort out the access and parking.

Largely to divert Mike from his mental turmoil, despite the rain we took a trip to Bude on the north Cornwall coast. When we arrived and parked, Mike delivered the news that their contracts had been exchanged and all was well, their house sale would complete in just over a week. Bude wasn’t particularly appealing but, with a collective sigh of relief, we didn’t much care now. We began tacking our way back down the coast road towards Crackington Haven.

Carol knows no bounds with an Ordnance Survey map in her hand and we soon ended up on a dramatic, largely single-track roller coaster of a road with hairpin bends mixed in with comforting signs announcing descents and ascents having a gradient of 30% (1-in-3). Yikes! Both cars being equipped with Honda 2.2CTDi engines, we bravely carried on regardless and negotiated the worst that Cornwall could throw at us. It was certainly the most challenging road that I’ve personally seen in Cornwall. Having made it to the top of the most “interesting” section, we spotted a couple of intriguing signs.

We spotted the first sign on a lonesome house atop a hill. Though seemingly standing all alone, the house proudly displayed a “Neighbourhood Watch” sign. Curious.

The second sign occurred at intervals beside our difficult-enough–to-drive-along road. Despite having 1-in-3 gradients, this road was apparently designated as being part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network route 3. Strewth! I know I am not the fittest person in the world but on a bicycle I can just about manage a 1-in-7 hill, which should preferably be one that is a short, sharp shock; if it drags on too long, I’m going to have trouble. I have yet to meet anyone capable of cycling up a 1-in-3 hill, certainly not up a long and persistent 1-in-3 hill. It’s hard enough to push a bicycle up a 1-in-3 gradient. Armed with a bike, I’ve been down Chimney Bank, a 1-in-3 hill in Yorkshire, which greets cyclists with an instruction to dismount in order to descend in safety. Most bicycle brakes won’t hold you back on a 1-in-3 descent. Whilst I applaud the concept of the National Cycle Network as being a wonderful idea, I would have thought that its planners might have paid a little attention to the physical suitability of the routes chosen. Good grief, they have to be joking!

Crackington Haven turned out to very pleasant in a dramatic coastal views kind of way and, furthermore, provided an enjoyable pub serving Cornish Rattler cider accompanied by fish and chips for lunch.

The rain continued unabated all day long.

Posted in Devon, 2010 Tagged with:

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