Going down to the West Country for some summer sunshine? Heading to North Wales for a walking holiday in the mountains? Enjoying a break in Edinburgh for some music, culture and the arts? Whatever your choice for ‘getting away’, it is a chance to explore somewhere new – and some of the big attractions are the more famous ‘record’ locations in the places we visit. Falmouth in Cornwall holds the record for sunshine hours in June (382 in 1925). Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales at 1085m, is a ‘honeypot’ for walkers in North Wales. Edinburgh Castle draws many to the Scottish capital and is the biggest tourist attraction in Scotland (1.6 million visitors a year). But wherever you go for your get away trip, there are many less well known record locations to visit.
Winding through the lanes of North Devon leads to some of the remote villages, beaches, hills and views that have attracted visitors to this part of south west England since tourism began. From the resorts of Ilfracombe, Woolacombe and Westward Ho! via Barnstaple and Bideford to Clovelly, and beyond to Bude (which is actually in Cornwall), is a piece of England that embodies romantic images of the best of Britain. Tucked away within this region, though, are also some of the county record locations for Devon, which adds a fascinating dimension to a holiday here.
Clovelly is renowned for its steep main street and ‘chocolate box’ image, but just to the south of the village, high on the plateau above it, is one of Devon’s county record locations. Where the A39 meets the B3237 stands Clovelly Dykes, an Iron Age enclosure consisting of concentric dykes up to 2.5m high. This is the largest of the 350 Iron Age sites in Devon, covering 8.1ha, and has been interpreted as a farming settlement rather than a defensive or ‘fort’ site (Grid Reference SS31102350).
Follow the A39 road west of Clovelly and take the B road that runs to the village of Hartland. Drive a little further and you reach the hamlet of Stoke, and here in this tiny rural settlement are two more of Devon’s county records. The first is the parish church of St Nectan’s, which dates from 1360. Its claim to fame is its 39m high tower, built in 1420, which makes it the tallest church in Devon. Its tower has earned it the nickname of the “Cathedral of North Devon”, and has provided a navigation point for ships in the Bristol Channel for many centuries (Grid Reference SS23492475). The hamlet of Stoke is certainly ‘off the beaten track’, tucked remotely in Hartland parish in the westernmost parts of the county, 5km south of Hartland Point. Its location gives it a second ‘county record’ as it is also the remotest settlement in mainland Devon as measured by distance to the nearest towns. By road, Stoke is 25.5km from Bideford, 25.7km from Holsworthy and 24.8km from Bude, which makes it very much a ‘get away from it all’ holiday location.
Drive south from Hartland for half an hour and you reach the village of Welcombe, an agricultural village which is home to about 250 people. Its claim to fame is that it is the most westerly village on the mainland of Devon (Grid Reference SS22801840). From here its still 2km down to the coast, though, at Welcombe Mouth, from where a short walk northwards takes you to Knap Head and the Knap’s Longpeak promontory (Grid Reference SS20801880). This is the westernmost point of mainland Devon (4°33’06”W), with its sea cliffs famous for excellent climbing (not for the faint hearted or inexperienced, of course). And where exactly, you might ask is the actual westernmost point in Devon? Well, it’s not on the mainland but lies 19km off the west coast on the island of Lundy, which you can also visit but it requires a day trip by ship from Ilfracombe or Bidedford.
Welcombe lies close to the county boundary with Cornwall. Some 7km to the south east through some delightful country lanes and on the A39 trunk road is the Devon village of East Youlstone. East Youlstone is close to another Devon county record location – the point where the longest river enters the county. From the middle of East Youlstone, follow the minor road to West Youlstone. After about 1km the road crosses a river at the county boundary (Grid Reference SS27001559). This is the famous River Tamar, which is the longest river in both Devon and Cornwall, and which forms the county boundary for almost its entire length (and has done since 936AD). The river actually rises in Cornwall but enters Devon in Woolley Wood just north of this bridge, and flows as the county boundary for 95.3km southwards to Plymouth Sound.
North Devon is both remote and beautiful and a popular holiday destination in south west England. Alongside its famous coast and landscape, though, it is also home to some of the less well known record locations for Devon. What are the record locations close to your favourite holiday destination?
The Must Get Out More Question !
What is the easternmost settlement in each of the four home countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)?
The Answer to the Last Question
Where and when did the last invasion of Britain by a hostile foreign force take place?
The last military invasion of Britain was at Fishguard in Wales on 22-24 February 1797, in what is now Ceredigion. This was in the historic county of Cardiganshire and the ceremonial county of Dyfed. It was launched by the French army to distract Britain into withdrawing troops from Ireland, and so provide support for those pursuing a united Ireland. The French landed at Carregwastad Head, 3km west of Fishguard, but were defeated by Baron Cawdor within two days.
(Grid Reference SM92644053)
The Record Locations
You can use the Grid References provided to locate record locations on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk