"A walk round Devon,"  by Christine Lovelock

Walk 1 - From Bradiford on the outskirts of Barnstaple,  to Ash Down, near Braunton, and back


On Ashdown

Walk on Saturday April 29 2006

This was one of two  "Preview" walks that I did before the main walk started . The group fighting the Fullabrook Down Wind Farm were thinking of holding a walk in the summer, and didn`t want me to duplicate this, so I decided to do these two walks earlier on, and just pay a brief visit to the area when I came by later in May..
This photograph was taken by Peter Kingdon, of the CAWT group. I am standing on Ash Down, in the field where turbine No 8 could be.  The field  is crossed by a footpath that goes from Ash Down to Pippacott
About the walk and map of Devon
Page about Fullabrook

I came home via Whitehall, Prixford, Higher Blakewell Farm and Tutshill Woods, taking footpaths wherever possible. 
Springfield Cross near Luscott Barton
Springfield Cross, near Ashford.
I started this walk by going up the hill from Bradiford, where I live, just outside Barnstaple,  to Luscott Barton, then up through Ash Wood and across the hill to Pippacott. You can see Springfield Cross on the map above. It was a most beautiful day, with a blue sky and a light breeze. The Devon hedgerows at this time of year are studded with wild flowers.
Approaching Knowlwater bridge.and Luscott Barton, which is a tinly hamlet near the bridge. This photo was taken just before the road went down to meet the bridge.
I kept stopping to photograph the primroses, the stitchwort, the violets, the first bluebells, the blackthorn blossom.... As you can see, there isn`t very much traffic on these roads.
Paintings of Knowlwater

2008 update- this charming and peaceful spot will be the site for the Fullabrook Down Power Station sub-station. Will the tree in my painting survive? And how about the lovely little bridge itself? And the fact that this will be built on a flood plain, and a stream that goes down to Braunton village?
from Ash Wood
This is a view from Ash Lane, a footpath that goes up through Ash Wood. I took other photographs too of the wild garlic, primroses and bluebells, but don`t have the time to show them all here. The hills in the distance are the one across the Taw Estuary between Fremington and Instow (Nov 2008: news of proposal for 3 x 130m turbines on these hills opposite, to face the Fullabrook ones)

It was warmer in among the trees, and I suddenly heard footsteps - it was a man, running, the first person I had seen since I started out. He ran past quickly - I wished I could run again too.

Turbine field
This is where I was photographed:  a set-aside field where one of the turbines will be.  The path leads down into the valley  and across a little stream. Nearly everywhere you go now, you can hear the sound of distant traffic. But not here: it was silent except for the breeze, and the skylarks that sang high above me.
The farmer who owns the field , and is putting up a turbine here, belonged to the Country Stewardship Scheme. There was a sign on the fence that said  "preserve, protect and enjoy the countryside". I should have photographed it... it seemed so ironic

tree across the valley
This is the other side of the valley, above the stream that you can see on the map above.. It was a perfect spot, reminding me of the English countryside of my childhood - with wild flowers everywhere and silence except for the bird song.
2011 Note: this side of the valley faces towards the site of Turbine 5.  Here is a link to what it looks like now, - you need to scroll down the page to find the valley:

wild flowers
This is a view to the side of the valley, through a clump of pink flowers towards the blackthorn blossom.  This is part of the hidden heart of Devon, where the countryside is unspoilt and nature is at peace with itself.  This is the kind of place that William Blake could have been thinking about when he wrote about "England's green and pleasant land". Is it a wonder he also mentioned "dark satanic mills" ? Wind turbines may be white, but they look black against the sun.

near Pippacott woods
One more view across the valley slopes, through the wild
flowers. I`m not sure what these pink flowers are called,
perhaps someone can tell me. They reminded me
somehow of harebells.
wild flowers
At the top of the slope the footpath turns
into a lane, with the usual Devon banks, prettier
than any gardens that I have known.

The lane leads to the tiny hamlet of Pippacott, which will suffer very badly if the turbines are built.  I have done two paintings of the view from fields just round the corner here.
Pippacott paintings

On the left is the track that leads into Pippacott Wood,  yet again more flowers, this time one of my favourite, wild garlic.
Pippacott Woods
It also leads down to another tiny hamlet, Whitehall.
 Not long after this photograph was taken, I was
attacked by a small dog with very sharp teeth...
it quite shook me up, and I didn`t get it
 together to take anymore photos for a while!
Looking down on Barnstaple
From Whitehall, I went up to Prixford, then across footpaths towards Higher Blakewell farm. From this footpath I could see Barnstaple far below me. In the photograph you can see the Civic Centre, the large building on the right, where planning decisions are made. It was getting late, but still quiet up here. The one thing I could hear were church bells, ringing out across the valleys.
The last photograph was taken close to Barnstaple, as I went through  Tutshill Woods
Paintings of the fields near Tutshill Woods
In Tutshill Woods
It was getting darker under the trees, and the
 wood anenomes were bending over the path
as their petals closed up for the night.