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Combe Martin >  Google™ Map Sep 2023  Devon Coat of Arms

cumb Old English wooded valley + martin unknown personal name. Population - 2,687.

England-Devon Flag UK > England > Devon

Sep 2023

Devon Coat of Arms

Oh no! Here's somewhere else in North Devon at the end of a terrifying and interminable descent in the rain of a Combe and we're looking at you Ilfra- and Woola-. Yes, there's a wooded valley to worry about and this is right on the river, the River Umber, of course, although most of it is umberground.

Combe Martin - River Umber

The collywobbles are the case if you take the rollercoaster ride in from the west along the top although several caravan parks hardly confirm the inaccessibility being suggested. Most people will take the sensible option of the A399 in from the south but more on that in a minute, right Sat Nav-ers?

Whatever your way, the natural bay serves up a serviceable beach from where wetsuit-ted types can backside a backwash, whatever that means, or launch a hired kayak available from a handful of handy providers.

Combe Martin Beach
Combe Martin - Parade Car Park

They might think they're braving being swept away by a North Atlantic nor'easter but this is officially the Bristol Channel, basically.

It's a clifftop-heavy situation on either side and those to the east are home to the Hangmans, the tallest sea cliffs in England, no less.

Combe Martin - To the Hangmans

Great Hangman's face clocks in at 800-foot, not shown, which is bigger than Beachy Head, and the clifftop path rises to another 200-foot above.

Little Hangman is a measly 700-foot, not shown, which is still bigger than Beachy Head, but there's as much chance of seeing either up-close or even from a binoc than there is of today's rain easing off, honestly.

  South West Coast Path

If you're walking England's longest National Trail anticlockwise from Minehead then you're only 21 miles in so just the 598-or-so to go to Dorset. If you're coming from Dorset then it's still about 21 miles to Minehead and you've been going the wrong way, anyways.

This stretch takes in both of the Hangmans and is, not unsurprisingly, the highest point of the entire trail. Cornwall will provide its own challenges but this is routinely described as 'strenuous' and since this is only day three, many will be minded to head back to Minehead, maybe?

The mini-seaside-resort vibe is amplified by, on first impressions, more ice cream parlours than thought to be strictly necessary.

Combe Martin - From Parade Car Park
Combe Martin - Seaside Hill

They're clearly waiting for next summer but a handful of fish, chip and pasty-providing fleshpots provide amusement indoors with a thankful lack of that sort of thing around.

The museum looks to do some good work workshop-wise with local schools so it's not all inevitable, tragic tales of fisherfolk but there's competition on the unusual artefact front at Old Trafford.

Old Trafford?

Remember the A399? Well, it's said to be the longest high street in the country and it's along there you'll find a nod to the famous stadium.

Combe Martin - A399
Combe Martin - Old Trafford

A former cobbler, it's thought, was a well-known character in the village and football nut to boot, hence the Sir Matt Busby Way road sign in the window. Not that it can be confirmed, Google™ will simply deliver driving instructions from North Devon to South Manchester, and it's not the only point of interest along the longest high street in the country.

The Pack o' Cards Inn was originally built by some old gadabout who seems to have known when to hold 'em and known when to fold 'em. The joker's winnings are said to have funded a new family home with, get this, four flours, 13 doors on each floor and 52 stairs.

Given that this happened around 1700, that makes the efforts of the geezer who designed the Grand Hotel in Scarborough not quite so original as had always been thought.

It's not really the longest high street in the country, it's just the main road in and most of its two miles are residential so it's not really a high street, really.

Sorry if that sours the tone and makes SlyBob sound like a couple of Combe Martin killjoys but the mood has just been dampened by the incoming football scores...

14:28 FT Newcastle 1 Nottm Forest 3

That means, back at Old Trafford, more cups remain in the old cobbler's kitchen than they will for a while in this fairweather NUFC fan's trophy cabinet, eh?

What's What
 Combe Martin Museum
 Pack o' Cards Inn
Where's Where