Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Don’t be tempted to walk the whole of Combe Martin’s main street in one go. It’s said to be the longest village street in the country – and, at two miles, who would argue?
Combe Martin is a superb centre for walking and riding, with footpaths and bridleways heading off in all directions from the village. In bygone days Combe Martin was noted for its silver mining, hemp and strawberry growing. All that is left now are the strawberries growing on the steep slopes rising from the Umber River Valley.
The beach is a mix of sand and pebbles which, at low tide, extends into large areas of firm, clean sand. There are also some attractive and secluded beaches. The natural harbour is a favourite venue for visitors in the summer from its cliffs there are great views and, on a fine day, you can see the Welsh coast.
Combe Martins best-known landmark is the unique Pack of Cards public house, said to have been built by a local man who won a fortune at cards. Into a 52 square foot area it packs four floors, 13 doors, 13 fireplaces, 52 stairs and 52 windows!
Combe Martin is popular with visitors for its annual carnival and the traditional Hunting of the Earl of Rone ceremony, complete with hobby horse, fool and processions through the streets.
Along this stretch of the coast are other pretty villages like Berrynarbor, once a winner of the Best Kept Village Award, where houses cluster around an historic 15th century manor.
Further north along the A39 is Parracombe. Close to its 11th century church are two cottages where they used to brew ale for the church worshippers! North of Parracombe is the start of a spectacular walk to Heddons Mouth. Follow the path through a beautiful glen and you reach a dramatic cut in the 700ft cliffs. It is a superb sight with trees clinging to the sheer sides of the cliffs.