A Short Walk to the Coast Road

Walking down Churchill Way, I could hear the birds singing in the treetops, unperturbed by the noise of traffic below.

At Bloody Corner I encountered a large group of people who were obviously on a conducted tour. They were gathered round to look at a large inscribed stone tablet set into a wall, commemorating the death of Hubba the Dane. Hubba the Dane apparently was killed in battle here in the 9th century, by Odun, Earl of Devon (or was it King Alfred the Great?)

I turned right, down a rough pathway bordered by trees and tangled hedges, and  leading to the river.

The roar of traffic continued, slowly diminishing as I made my way down the path, thinking as I walked how there are not many places in England left, where you can get away from this sort of modern noise… and I wondered at the effect it has had on our sensitivity and awareness.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that a number of horses in an adjacent field were bearing down upon me looking hopeful. No way did I want to spend the next half hour pulling up grass from the verge and feeding four or five hungry horses. So I started to move away, but not before one of them had reached the fence and stuck his head over, gazing at me wistfully straight in the eye. ‘Oh heck,’ I thought, as the others gathered round.

So we breathed into each other’s noses and I gave him a bunch of grass and made off as quickly as I could. ‘Don’t look back!’

A woman passed me, power-walking fast, with a cheery ‘Good Morning’. I was envious, as I have only recently discovered this technique in my efforts to get healthy, and just watching her made me feel tired.

Another woman came along, leading a pony in a warm winter jacket.



I came to a field full of sheep on the left, busy doing their thing (eating grass).


It got colder as I walked away from the traffic towards the river. Looking through the hedgerow and the brambles, across the fields I could see  Appledore shipyard, and across the river, the church and white houses of Instow.



I paused and breathed under two beautiful bare-branched trees. Breath, breeze, trees, birds: the traffic roar had receded now, as I reached the Coast Path and turned back the way I had come.

A man came towards me with a dog, running at full speed, obviously intent on jumping up at me. So I took the opportunity to shout at it in my most commanding voice, which caused it to do a quick detour when it reached my legs.

I passed two more humans walking with three dogs, before reaching once again the Hubba memorial stone.

Inscribed on the stone, it says:

 “Stop Stranger Stop,

Near this spot lies buried

King Hubba the Dane,

 who was slayed in a bloody retreat,

 by King Alfred the Great”

I am not convinced of the truth of this, although in King Alfred’s time there certainly were many skirmishes and bloody battles up and down the country, against the invading Danes. And it certainly does make a good local myth.




About throughstones

I am primarily a visual artist, living on the North Devon coast, a beautiful semi-rural area in South West England. I am interested in full engagement with 'place' and the eternal movement of life - particularly as it relates to what we call 'the natural environment'.
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6 Responses to A Short Walk to the Coast Road

  1. Nice to see you up and moving about again. Enjoyed the snippet of bird song too in your last post. The birds are still too frozen here to sing.


  2. Val says:

    Hello again, Lovely to hear from you . I do hope what I wrote regarding dogs was not taken as a criticism of them, as I love all animals enormously (and am an activist on their behalf, no matter what species) it was really just to say I feel there are unfortunately some irresponsible pet owners who do not consider either other people or their own animal. If you are out with a dog that dog must either be on a lead or well behaved~ I never mind if a dog that is friendly approaches me. but sometimes it is hard to tell whether they are or not initially ~ I am usually the one who speaks to them first but some owners have not been keen on that ether at times, so you try to ‘read’ both owner and dog if possible! I understand more now why you were not so keen to have the attention of the horses now as well 🙂 Anyway, your walk was certainly not without some adventurous moments! I must now look up King Hubba to see just what is actually known about him. Sort of like the Rufus Stone in the New Forest~ we do know that Rufus was shot with an arrow in the wood there but whether it was that exact spot is up for debate by scholars ~ All Intriguing though! Look forward to any future walks with you.


  3. Val says:

    Always enjoy walking along with you! Another lovely and interesting post. Thank you for sharing your walk. I thought the horses were lovely~ maybe if you go that direction again an apple or carrot might suffice to keep them busy!? Thank goodness you were able to curtail the rushing dog! I cannot understand people with dogs, who must know how their animals are likely to react to strangers, and why they don’t keep them on a lead or train them to stay with them no matter what. Was it a bit scary or did it just seem friendly and would have gotten mud all over you as a consequence ? Thank you for sharing your adventure!


    • Thank you Val – I am enjoying your comments too! As for dogs, I think they are very intelligent animals, and it is us humans who demean them and cause them to behave in silly, unruly or brutal ways. I have had plenty of unpleasant experiences with dogs whilst out on Northam Burrows. On the other hand, I once saw a dog pulling up his fallen master by his walking stick. And only last week in the same place, a dog came running for help to my daughter – its elderly lady owner had fallen and was unable to get up.
      The one in my post was about to be ‘friendly’, but I had an open camera and a couple of bags hanging down in front of me, so I wasn’t very keen!
      Must remember the carrots…


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