We got away from Tintagel in good time. The car park at the Ship Inn was good value and close to all the attractions of Tintagel and I would happily use it again. We left Tintagel heading north to join up with the excitingly named  “Atlantic Highway”, actually the A39 between Barnstaple and the junction with the A30 near Launceston and Newquay and not  to be confused with the “Atlantic Road” in Norway! Highway is a bit of an exaggeration although most of it has two generous carriageways it also shrinks right down in places too!

Boscastle approach from the south looking toward the harbour.
Boscastle approach from the south looking toward the harbour.

All in all a dramatic drive especially the road from Tintagel that took us through Boscastle that showed no signs at all of the devasting floods in 2004 that tore through the village after 8 hours of heavy rain that fell on the hills above the village. 100 homes and businesses were destroyed and 80 cars and caravans were washed through the village and in to the harbour.

We swept along the Atlantic Highway catching occasional glimpses of the Atlantic in the distance and then it turned inland after Camelford and turn east across the top of Hartland near Clovelly and we said goodbye to the ocean from here any glimpses of sea will be the Bristol Channel rather than the Atlantic .

Approaching Bideford we turned off the main road just before the big new bridge which we crossed last time we came this way and drove through the town and crossed on the old bridge over the Torridge.

The view downstream from the middle of the old Bideford Bridge with new high-level Torridge Bridge in the distance.
The view downstream from the middle of the old Bideford Bridge with new high-level Torridge Bridge in the distance.

Lucy the Sat Nav had an aberration in Barnstaple which took us on a less than scenic tour of the town ring road but eventually we found our way back on to the A39 (we are going to follow this road pretty much all day) and started the climb up on to Exmoor. North of Barnstaple the A39 makes no attempt to be a Highway at all and does not even resemble a 2 digit A road really. Average speed dropped to the point where we only occasionally made it to the giddy heights of 30mph. We stopped for lunch at Arlington Court. Last time we came this way we stopped here but did not have time to view the house – just the amazing collection of carriages in the stables.

Moving on from Arlington House we followed the A39 right across the top of Exmoor and then dropped down to the coast at Lynmouth. Time was pressing and this is a driving day so we pushed on – perhaps a mistake as there is much to see here and it would have been good to have a few hours here. From Lynmouth the road climbs steeply up Countisbury Hill (400m rise in 4kms) on its way to the dreaded 25% descent in to Porlock.

On the top of Countisbury hill we pulled in to a view point for a leg stretch and the view across to South Wales.

The drop down into Porlock is even steeper than the climb up Countisbury Hill and we were down to 1st gear for the last, very steep indeed section in to Porlock. Using 2nd gear to descend steep hils is fairly routine – they say you should descend a hill in the same gear you would need to climb it – but 1st gear and still needing to use the brakes was a first for us. I am not sure the cars behind were amused!

From Porlock the road winds across the valley and around the end of the Quantock Hills. We had set our sights on a farm shop at Watchett but on arrival were greeted by a rather off hand shop assistant who told us that they had stopped doing Britstops and we could not stay! Oh dear – we should have called ahead. This Bristop did not ask for a call but we do try to call as we have been caught out before. Anyway we found a replacement Bristop just outside Bridgewater. A pub called The Friendly Spirit which lived up to its name. They parked us on some grass at the end of their car park and we had a very nice meal and a peaceful night. When they work Britstops are wonderful!

Mileage reading tonight: 120946 kms
Mileage reading at home: 119740 kms
Mileage today:  194kms
Mileage total: 1206kms

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Exmoor and the Atlantic Highway
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