Earlier this week, I started telling you about our Babymoon in North Devon. After our first couple of days, we were really starting to unwind, and with the weather being good to us, we were able to follow through with our plan A of things to do and places to visit (plan B was going to be snuggled up in the beach hut playing board games, had it rained the whole time!)
Whenever we plan a trip away, one of my first ports of call for inspiration is Pinterest. I like to build boards that give a feel of the new place we’re visiting, and in so doing, we often find the best places to visit during our stay. Our trip to North Devon was no exception…
Tintagel Castle in Cornwall is around an hour and a half drive south (or maybe that’s south west?) of Ilfracombe, where we were staying. Legend has it that Tintagel Castle was the birth place of King Arthur… so naturally, my interest was piqued.
From the photos I had seen of the castle remains on Pinterest, I was a little concerned about the number of steps that we would have to climb, and they certainly looked very steep. 20 weeks into our first pregnancy, I have had a tendency to be a little too over cautious, questioning my ability to do everything – would I (in my ‘oh so fragile’ state!) be capable of climbing the steps? Was it going to be too strenuous? Would I fall asleep half way up…? We would find out…
When we arrived in Tintagel, my pregnancy hunger pangs had most definitely kicked in, and along with them my diminishing patience and shorter fuse. Not in the best mind set to embark on the vertical-looking ascent to the castle, we decided to pick up our energy – with our second cream tea of the holiday. Surely we had to compare the Devonshire version to the Cornish version right?!
We ducked into the aptly named, King Arthurs café, which was a pleasant, casual little setup. Two fat scones (each) arrived, freshly warm from the oven and as I sliced my knife down the middle to slather on swathes of clotted cream, the sweetly scented steam rose to awaken my senses. Ooo this was going to be good! And good it was!
Suitably fattened up – we headed off down to the castle.
We’ve been to a couple of English Heritage sites in the UK already, and some seem to be much better value than others. Heading down to Tintagel Castle, we could tell this was one of those places that was definitely going to be worth the ticket price.
The landscape was stunning. We arrived at the base of the castle to turquoise waters crashing against dramatic cliff faces. Immediately, we knew this place was something special. No wonder it was shrouded in legend and mystery…
After all my worrying, the steps leading up were nowhere near as daunting as they had seemed in the pictures. Sure there were a lot of them and they were kind of steep but taken at a sensible pace they were more than manageable (the way down was a bit more daunting, but hey we managed it just fine – no tears!)
I was amazed to see how well preserved this 13th century castle was, especially considering the battering it was getting from the wind, and this was a good weather day! One of the things I loved most about Tintagel Castle was that you were free to roam around wherever you liked. There was no set way that you had to walk around, no restrictions on where you could and couldn’t go (well within reason for health and safety of course!) Quite often, these kinds of tourist attractions can be uncomfortable to navigate, pushing through crowds of people to catch a glimpse of something interesting. But we didn’t get any of that at Tintagel. Despite the masses of people coming up and down the steps, there was plenty of space to still enjoy the castle somewhat privately. Little nooks you could escape to and steal a cheeky kiss.
And so this was a perfect day out for our babymoon. It gave us a chance to romantically amble around the ruins, hand in hand, having our private little conversations and not having to wait for people to move out of the way to capture moments and expressions from each other on our cameras.
There was something quite romantic about being able to wander through the remnants of old rooms of what I imagine would have been a rather grand castle of the time. I felt privileged to be able to touch the stone that centuries-old hands had one day laid in this very spot. I remember crouching down to take a photo of the sea through one of the ‘windows’ and at that moment I felt a strong connection with the past; all the while thinking of the little future that grows inside me.
That was a serene moment. I hope he or she will have as much of an appreciation for the past and our heritage…
We spent around an hour or so meandering through the castle before opting to get the Landrover service back up the hill into the village. We had earned it! Enough walking for one day (or so I thought…).
The Modern Day Stonehenge
A few days before our trip, we had watched a film called Citizen Four, which was all about that guy Edward Snowdon who had leaked information about the American government (or something like that). At some point in the movie, we had seen one of the government surveillance sites in the UK. And where was it… about half an hour back up from Tintagel Castle in Bude. So naturally Andrew had to add this modern day landmark to our itinerary.
Ok, I said, but don’t be getting too close, I don’t want our babymoon to turn into some James Bond movie!
We had seen the site on the way down to Tintagel and now we just needed to find a good vantage point to take a quick snap before heading back to our beach hut for the evening. This may sound like a simple task but oh no!
We ended up taking the coastal road from Tintagel all the way up to Bude, with a quick stop in Boscastle to explore the Museum of Witchcraft (superstition stopped me from taking any photographs from in there but it was certainly worth a visit). As much as I moaned at Andrew for the added pitstops, I secretly enjoyed our ‘off schedule’ adventure. It gave us a good excuse and a chance to see different parts of the Cornish coast that we would otherwise have missed.
My favourite stopping point was Maer Cliff, a National Trust beauty spot somewhere along the coast of Bude Bay. What amazes me about this part of the world is that even just a couple of minutes up the coastline can look so different. The water is always changing and there’s always something unique to enjoy. It was around 5pm by now and the evening tide surfers had made their way into the waves. We watched for a few minutes at they tried to get their balance.
The view of the satellites was pretty good from here, and from my point of view, comfortably far enough away! I joked that they looked like a modern day Stonehenge, and wondered at how far we had come since those prehistoric days.
Not content with his selfie, Andrew just had to stop off a few more times on the road back to Ilfracombe, and finally satisfied to have gotten a shot of the 21st century landmark…
Lynton & Lynmouth
For our final day in Devon we had planned to just take some time to relax in our beach hut, but when we woke up to yet another beautiful hot sunny day, we felt guilty for just sitting around and not getting out to enjoy it properly.
Again, another landmark inspired by Pinterest was the clifftop railway that links twin towns, Lynton and Lynmouth in Exmoor National Park. This wasn’t too far away from where we were staying so we figured why not nip out and see what all that’s about.
And I am so glad that we did.
Nestled amongst the trees these two quaint little villages seemed to emanate relaxation as soon as we got out of the car. It was so pretty. A beautiful shoreline, delicate rows of shops and quirky cafes lined the streets, and spring flowers had sprouted to add a dash of colour everywhere we turned. I imagine that at the height of the holiday season, this place must get washed with tourists, but on a work day like this, the streets were quiet only for the lull of school children playing in the local school yard.
We took a ride on the clifftop railway – reminiscing and comparing the experience to the one we enjoyed in Aberystwyth last summer, and continued to wander the streets.
We found a quirky little café, which seemed akin to Choccywoccydodah where we had enjoyed one of our first holidays away in Brighton. Charlie Fridays was a cosy basement style café complete with a mouthwatering menu and welcoming staff.
I found that about North Devon – it seemed to encompass much of the trips we had been on before, but in different ways. Our view of the coast reminded us of Cardigan Bay in Aberystwyth; our trip around Ilfracombe Harbour evoked memories of our visit to Whitby. Tintagel Castle gave us the same nostalgic reflection that Stonehenge and Stirling Castle had done. I was grateful for the time to just reminisce with Andrew on all the memories we have so far created together.
I sometimes wonder if we’ve kind of ‘been there and done it’ with many of the UK destinations that we consider for our next adventure, but then I realise that although there are similarities, our experiences are always different. We always get something unique to take away and compare to our next trip… wherever that may be.
We rounded off our last day with an afternoon playing chess, dipping our toes in the hot tub, exploring the nearby coastal path, and having grilled sausages and burgers (since the weather had started to turn a bit cooler and a BBQ on the beach was looking less likely to be comfortable).
Oh and we even spotted some dolphins out on the horizon through the binoculars that had kindly been supplied with the beach hut. A perfect end, to a most perfect and relaxing babymoon.
The benefits of our Babymoon
We hadn’t realised just how much we had needed time away for each other, and ourselves. This year’s been tough. We’ve by no means had to endure any real hardships but the transition between carefree married life, to expectant parents and home-owners in one fell swoop had taken its toll emotionally and physically on both of us.
Our relationship, although always strong, had lacked in the tenderness and intimacy that I had hoped to expect from pregnancy. ‘Life’ just kind of started to get in the way. So I couldn’t have been more thankful, settled into the car for what would be an 8 hour journey home, feeling peaceful, happy, reconnected and most importantly, looking forward together with Andrew to what the next phase is going to hold for us.
Time will tell…
Have you considered taking a babymoon? Where have you found inspiration? How did a babymoon help you and your partner to reconnect before your little one arrived? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on Twitter @LoveinMindBlog