Hartland Peninsula

Nestled in the heart of North Devon, the Hartland Peninsula is a captivating destination that offers a blend of natural beauty, rich history, and rugged coastline. Known for its breathtaking landscapes and secluded charm, Hartland Peninsula is an ideal spot for those seeking a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. This article will take you through the highlights of this remarkable region, guiding you on how to get there, what to see, and what to do to make the most of your visit.

Getting to Hartland Peninsula

Hartland Peninsula is located in North Devon, a region renowned for its picturesque countryside and dramatic coastlines. To reach this tranquil area, head towards the town of Bideford, which is well-connected by road. From Bideford, follow the A39 road westward towards Bude. After approximately 12 miles, you will reach the village of Clovelly. From here, turn off onto minor roads that will lead you to the heart of Hartland Peninsula. For those relying on public transport, there are regular bus services from Bideford and Barnstaple that serve the surrounding villages, but a car is recommended for exploring the more remote areas.

Landmarks and Attractions

Hartland Peninsula boasts a wealth of landmarks and attractions that cater to a variety of interests. Here are some must-see spots:

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  1. Hartland Quay: Hartland Quay is famous for its dramatic cliffs and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The rugged coastline here is a geologist’s dream, with layers of rock formations that tell a story millions of years in the making. The Hartland Quay Hotel and its adjoining museum offer fascinating insights into the area’s maritime history, including shipwrecks and tales of smuggling.
  2. Hartland Abbey: A visit to Hartland Peninsula would be incomplete without exploring Hartland Abbey. Originally founded in 1157, this former Augustinian monastery was converted into a stately home after the dissolution of the monasteries. Today, visitors can wander through its beautiful gardens, woodlands, and the historic interiors of the house. The Abbey also features exhibitions that delve into its intriguing history and the lives of those who lived there.
  3. St. Nectan’s Church: Situated in the village of Stoke, St. Nectan’s Church is a gem of ecclesiastical architecture. Known as the ‘Cathedral of North Devon,’ this 14th-century church is dedicated to St. Nectan, a local saint. The churchyard is home to the famous ‘Stoke Stone,’ an ancient cross that dates back to the 9th century.
  4. Speke’s Mill Mouth Waterfall: One of the most breathtaking natural features of the Hartland Peninsula is Speke’s Mill Mouth Waterfall. This stunning waterfall cascades 60 feet down the cliffs into a picturesque valley before flowing into the sea. The surrounding area offers beautiful walking trails and is a favourite spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts. The waterfall is particularly impressive after heavy rain when the water flow is at its peak.

Walks and Outdoor Activities

The Hartland Peninsula is a haven for walkers, offering a variety of trails that showcase its stunning landscapes. Here are some recommended walks:

  1. South West Coast Path: This national trail runs through Hartland Peninsula and provides some of the most spectacular coastal walks in the UK. The section between Hartland Quay and Bude is particularly noteworthy for its dramatic scenery, including towering cliffs, secluded coves, and diverse wildlife. Be prepared for some challenging terrain, but the breathtaking views are well worth the effort.
  2. Circular Walks: For those who prefer shorter walks, there are several circular routes that start and finish in the village of Hartland. The Hartland Point Circular Walk, for example, takes you past the iconic Hartland Point Lighthouse and offers panoramic views of the Bristol Channel. Another popular route is the Docton Mill Circular Walk, which leads you through picturesque woodlands and past a historic watermill with beautiful gardens.
  3. Speke’s Mill Mouth Walk: This walk is particularly popular for those wishing to see the stunning Speke’s Mill Mouth Waterfall. Starting from Hartland Quay, the trail takes you along the coast, offering spectacular sea views before reaching the waterfall. The walk is relatively moderate in difficulty, making it accessible to most visitors, and it provides plenty of opportunities for photography and wildlife spotting.
  4. Docton Mill Gardens: After a pleasant walk, relax and unwind at Docton Mill Gardens. This enchanting garden features a variety of plants, including rare and unusual species, as well as a lovely tea room where you can enjoy homemade treats. The mill itself is a charming piece of history, still operational and offering a glimpse into traditional milling practices.

Interesting Facts About Hartland Peninsula

  • Historical Significance: The peninsula has a rich history that dates back to prehistoric times. Archaeological finds in the area include ancient burial mounds and Iron Age fortifications.
  • Cinematic Beauty: Hartland Peninsula’s stunning landscapes have made it a popular location for filmmakers. It has been featured in various films and TV series, including the BBC’s adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility.”
  • Biodiversity: The area is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. It is home to a variety of bird species, including peregrine falcons and fulmars, as well as seals that can often be spotted along the coast.
  • Dark Skies: Due to its remote location, Hartland Peninsula is an excellent place for stargazing. On clear nights, the lack of light pollution allows for spectacular views of the night sky.

The Hartland Peninsula is a treasure trove of natural beauty, historical landmarks, and outdoor adventures. Whether you’re an avid walker, a history buff, or simply someone looking to immerse yourself in the tranquillity of the countryside, Hartland Peninsula has something to offer. Its unique charm and unspoilt landscapes make it a destination worth exploring, promising an unforgettable experience for all who visit. So, pack your walking boots, bring your camera, and prepare to discover one of North Devon’s best-kept secrets.

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