A long weekend in Chulmleigh

A small Saxon hilltop market town and civil parish located in North Devon, 20 miles north west of Exeter, Chulmleigh has some very old architecture with many cob and thatched buildings.

Having walked and cycled around the area on our visit I can certainly confirm that Chulmleigh is a hilltop town. With its old cottages and narrow streets it’s one of those places that feels as though it belongs in another time – in a good way. This old-world feel particularly suits the atmospheric Chulmleigh Fair, an ancient tradition that has taken place since King Henry III granted a Royal Charter to the town in 1253. The Fair even continued during the darkest days of the two world wars.

Around  Chulmleigh

Chulmleigh offers interesting walking and cycling opportunities, with quiet roads, footpaths and bridleways.

Cycling

The bike ride down Rock Hill was fun, but I wasn’t quite able to pedal the whole way back up, or all the way up the continuation of the track to Chawleigh Week Lane. It was fun trying – several times.

View down from the motte in Heywood

Rather easier cycling country was around Eggesford, in Flashdown Wood and Heywood, where there is a splendid example of a motte and bailey.

Chulmleigh in the distance, viewed from the motte in Heywood (click to enlarge)
Despite the heat wave, the forest wasn’t totally dry

Walking

One walk which didn’t lead immediately down a steep hill (which would therefore have to be climbed on the return) was towards the Beacon. Not far from here was a long bridleway which eventually allowed a loop back to Chulmleigh, mostly off-road, through pasture land and along river-banks.

For part of the walk I had some delightful companions…

…but maybe I should have read the sign! It looked as though the black one with the ring in its nose had the full set of equipment expected of a bull, but I suspect he didn’t see me as a threat to his manhood!

Chulmleigh Fair

Chulmleigh Fair was an extended celebration including classic vehicles (mostly tractors), sheep, dogs, fancy dress, dancing, knights and Vikings battling on the playing field, orienteering and a road race.

The knights and Vikings were an entertaining bunch, making full use of an assortment of dangerous weapons. A particularly poignant moment was when one of the knights, after much macho banter towards his enemy, suddenly fell to the ground. We thought this was part of the show, but it turned out that he’d slid on the wet grass and damaged his knee! The first-aider was a busy man here. I guess the Viking wearing trendy trainers rather than era-appropriate footwear had the last laugh on this occasion.

As a keen fun-runner and jogger, I couldn’t resist the road race – but how far, and what standard were the participants? As it turned out the answers were “about 2 miles” and “rather fast”.  Someone said “GO!”, and all the people around me disappeared into the distance. This was on the flat. Then the hills started, long and 25% steep. How are we supposed to run up one of those? And then there’s another one! Anyway, I wasn’t last – quite!

Below is an assortment of pictures from the Fair – click on any of the pictures to enlarge…

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