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Muddy pub walks: Crackington Haven to The Stranglers (and back!)

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Never trust a man with a secret walks book in his possession – that was mistake one (of many). My second mistake was not checking the selected secret walk before we set off. If is says moderate, its lying. Back in February, we took Mr MC’s shiny new adventure book on a jaunt to the north coast. I’ve only just recovered enough to tell you about it. This is a walk that certainly tightens the saggy muddy buttocks.

This walks perils (in no particular order): steep cliffs, steep ravines, bogs, landslides and naked people. No gunfire though – so that’s a plus.
Also worth bearing in mind: 7k on a road bike is NOT the same as an 7K vertical hike. You probably know this. If the walk contains the word ‘secret’ proceed with caution. Turns out The Stranglers is a nuddy beach. While I’m not adverse to a bit of fresh air on the old muddy knickyknackynoonars (in my own back garden obvs!), if you’re not prepared to see middle aged middle class flapjacks in all their cold shrivelled glory, it can come as a bit of a shock. And yes, in February too! Hardcore nudism. While there are stretches of this walk that are dog friendly, pooches aren’t allowed on Crackington beach – and depending on the time of year there may be cows with calves in the field, so bear that in mind.

Since Mr MC’s book has been in witness protection since we got back (someone threatened to burn it), I can’t photo copy the ‘secret walk’ for you, but I’ve found some excellent directions and a lovely little map online here.

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The walk starts on the coast path at Crackington Haven and follows it to the headland at Cambeak, passing Bray’s Point and Tremoutha Haven. From Cambeak, it continues past Little Strand and The Strangles to High Cliff and Voter Run where it climbs over the hill and drops down into a wooded valley. The route follows the river along the floor of the valley through East Wood, back to Crackington Haven.
IMG_2673Mini mudlet actually gave up less than half way, so guess who got to go back and play on the beach at Crackington? Yes that’s right NOT me.

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While Mr MC and mini lit fires on the beach, stuffed their faces with pasties and tried to steal a dog, big muddy and I plodded on. I have to say, while it was not as advertised by Mr MC it was utterly breath taking and worth it. The views were outstanding – I could even see this through the red mist and divorce plans.IMG_2683
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After much upping and downing,  follow the path along the bottom of a field and through East Wood until you reach another signpost. You might see Bluebells here, depending on when you do this walk. We were too early (it was feb). No mater when you go though, you’ll see an abundance of wildlife – there are loads of peregrines and wild flowers

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If you haven’t been to Crackington Haven, you need taking by the lapels and giving a good shaking! It’s an utterly awesome beach with some amazing rockpools and stunning cliffs. As well as the pub (see more on that below), there are two shops and ample parking, so you don’t have far to walk. I tried to take a pano picture for you, but it came out rubbish, sorry about that:

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By the time we got back to Crackington, Muddy child and I, though the victors, were utterly famished. Lucky for us, the Coombe Barton Inn was open.

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The Coombe Barton is labelled as a gastropub. While it wasn’t dressed as such (in February the out-dated décor of the bar area was a little disconcerting) we enjoyed a warm welcome and the grub was very decent – the muddies opting for carb on carb.

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Not very adventurous I know, but the ham was hand carved and the relish home made

It did seem to be having a refurb though – the large restaurant area, away from the bar was being decorated. My spies in Bude tell me that the place had been taken over last summer and while there was work to be done on the décor (I’m brutal, sorry) the new owners were concentrating their efforts in the right places – the food and the service first which were great. (NB I’ve since been back for a nose. Er I mean to update you, and the restaurant room is stunning with fantastic views – a million miles more stylish than the bar).  I was quite excited to see its makeover. I guess its a gem in the making, and one to watch.

There were a decent number of covers for a Saturday in February, and the boards were full listing upcoming events – music nights etc so the pub is obviously popular with locals too which is great.

I had the sense that the pub is trying to appeal to everyone. Personally I’m not a fan of fruity’s and the Sky Sports was a touch too much – but perhaps this was because there was a game on – it may not be on all the time. With views like the Coombe Barton Inn has, less is more here. Seasonal trade and local support is a balancing act though and it looks like its doing well.

The Sunday lunch menu looks very promising, with five different roast options from £8.95 to £12. One to try next time.

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: good quality modern British  food. Refueling walkers, lazy eating with a fandozy view, alfresco dining, families.

Not for: those who are put off by typical pub accoutrements (fruit machines, TV, patterned carpet).

£££: on the upper end of similar in the area. Three rounds of sarnies and chips for the kids was about £30.

Coombe Barton Inn, Crackington Haven, EX23 0JG

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