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"Holiday Makers" - Donkeys enjoy a break over Winter at Peppercombe

If you want to capture the essence of this picturesque haven, the best time to enjoy Peppercombe Valley in all its glory is the springtime when nature lovers, walkers and families can enjoy a peaceful respite from the normal suburban hullabaloo including TV, loud music and roaring traffic. Far away from the pressures of everyday life, the only sounds that await you here are the occasional rustle of the trees in the gentle breeze, bird song, the constant tinkle of water as the stream makes its way down through the wooded valley and the distant roar of the Atlantic Ocean as it thunders onto the shore below. By early April, the Hawthorne hedges at the beginning of the track leading down, which were cut back and layered in the autumn, are beginning to flower. As the trees are not yet in leaf, colour is provided by the many Primroses, Lesser Celandine and Dandelions with a scattering of Red Campions flowering early in the mild sunny weather. The Ransoms (wild garlic) leaves are fully formed with the flower buds beginning to show through. Primroses are in abundance in the valley but it is not until you reach the "Wooden Bungalow" down the track, before you go down to the beach that you realise just how many. Passing through the gate and looking upwards to the left the whole hillside is highlighted with specks of pale yellow. From here as you look up you can also see the golden-flowering common gorse which also put on a spectacular show in local hedgerows and along the A39 this year. In early Spring, with the leafless trees and flattened bracken, you really appreciate the depth of the valley, the steep sides filled with ancient trees, slender and tall, fighting with each other for the light. All the way down to the beach the trail is speckled with more primroses, moss covered trees bent over by the wind, form a natural bridge across the trail. By early May the tree foliage is at its best. The newly emerging leaves, not quite fully formed, allow the sunlight to stream through casting dappled shadows on the trail, the pale yellow/green foliage in vivid contrast against a background of clear blue sky. The primroses and Lesser Celandine have virtually died back now giving way to the Bluebells, Red Campions and Early Purple Orchids. The Ramsoms, which form a low lying white carpet down the banks and under the trees, are just beginning to flower and the newly emerging fronds of the many ferns coil upwards from the rusty bracken. Everywhere you look, either side of the trail you glimpse pockets of bluebells culminating with a wonderful display under the big old canopy of Beech trees by the stream at the National Trust Sign. Thousands of bluebells can be seen as you look across and upwards on the steep banks opposite. In the sunlight they never seem to form solid colours but appear more like a purple haze. (This picturesque woodland scene is repeated along the coastal path from Peppercombe to Bucks Mills.) At the end of the trail, just before you take the last steps down to the beach, take a moment to enjoy a spectacular view of Bideford Bay and the Heritage Coast. To the left you can see Bucks Mills, Clovelly, the headland of Gallantry Bower and Hartland Point. On a clear day Lundy Island is visible straight ahead while to the right a clear view of the pebble strewn beach, dramatic cliffs and Portledge with Saunton Sands in the far distance. Walking up the beach towards the red cliffs at low tide enables you to see the mini waterfall where the stream reaches its journeys end and cascades over the edge of the cavern through the cliffs. Peppercombe is most recognisable by its unique red cliffs and on closer inspection the soil is a rich rusty red, smooth and glossy in contrast to the dramatic chiselled layers of the darker rock formation. Although this is a leisurely walk down it is long and steep and even longer coming back so stout shoes are recommended (not flip-flops). Families with young children need to be prepared for tired little legs so don't load up with too much paraphernalia because you will definitely be left holding the baby! There is sand along the beach at low tide so check tide tables prior to setting out. Pushchairs are difficult to manoeuvre so have a look at alternative ideas on suitable carrying equipment. (**Tide Times - click link for Tide Prediction . Visit the North Devon Focus Blogspot Peppercombe Chronicles

South West Coast Path >Bucks Mills/Clovelly
Enjoying a break - Winter visitor at Peppercombe
Rising from the Wooded Valley
Regular visitor - Early Purple Orchid! Gigantic fronds head for the sunlight
Cow Parsley & Wild Garlic Blackthorn Early purple orchids
The Pink Cottage

Walking down to the beach!

Another point of view - new leaves bursting through
Wild Garlic/Ransoms by the Coast Guard Cottages Alternative route - Bluebells by the wayside
Photo by Brett D Adams - Copyright All rights Reserved
The stream carving its way down to the shore.
Primroses adorn the steps leading to the Coastal Path to Bucks Mills
Red Mud Slide/Red Cliffs up close
Less Celandine/Primroses
Journey's End - Peppercombe stream cascading down to the shore! Layer upon layer - Peppercombe Cliff Formation
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All Articles, Photographs and Illustrations ©Copyright P. Adams North Devon Focus 2015 - All rights reserved - Falling for Peppercombe