Running like a tourist – Hartland Devon edition

Hartland-Devon run route - To the black rock beach and back
Hartland-Devon run – To the black rock beach and back

It’d been many months since the last run as a tourist. The running planned in Croatia didn’t happen – too hot, too hilly (Dubrovnik), and the beaches too beautiful (Hvar) to waste time running.

Autumn & Winter didn’t see any trips anywhere so no chance of being a tourist. And the only other trip planned in spring is to Brighton – to run the Brighton marathon. So that doesn’t count either, I guess.

So when Raghi & her friends decided to go to Devon for a holiday on a long weekend in late March, it provided a good opportunity to get some running-as-a-tourist done.


And it seems I wasn’t the only one who had it in mind. A few moments after we landed there, Aruna announced that she wanted me to take her running. None of the other usual runners – Raghs, Ranjini, and Ashish – was interested. But, Arun – who I didn’t even know ran – was up for it.

The Run

I’d scouted a few nearby routes before the trip, and we left for the nearest one – starting at a car park close to the SW coastal route, a trail running down all the way to the sea, to what was mentioned as a beach with a giant rock (Black Rock).

The first half of the run was fun for all – it was a beautiful, shaded trail with a stream running alongside in a gully, audible but not visible. Arun lead the way, while I brought up the rear. The path itself was quite wide but uneven, with large scattered stones as potential ankle twisters.

Arun admiring the sunset, while I act like I'm scouting the IM Wales venue, Tenby, on the other side of the channel.
Arun admiring the sunset, while I act like I’m scouting the IM Wales venue, Tenby, on the other side of the channel.

The beach at the bottom was a small, rocky affair, though the sunset was almost worth the run itself. The promised ‘Black Rock’, was off to a side of the beach, partly hidden by a cliff. And, despite a bit of prodding by me, no one was interested in actually going onto the beach to see the big rock. It was probably the fast receding light. Or maybe, it was the thought of the run uphill, back to the car park, that may have been a factor in no one wanting to go down to the beach ;)

Anyway, we took a few obligatory photos, including a group selfie (or 5), and geared ourselves for the run back up.

Halfway point power selfie! (The climb back to car park would make us look the exact opposite!)
Halfway point power selfie! (The climb back to car park would make us look the exact opposite!)

The run back was, as expected, a struggle for both my running partners. This may be a bit of gloating, but, their suffering helped me. I ran from one to the other – jogging downhill, then sprinting uphill – to get a few nice hill intervals in the run. Still, it was good to see both of them giving it a go, and not giving up at the mere thought of having to run uphill.

At the top, despite the short hill repeats, the garmin was still below the 5K mark. So, Aruna and I took off in the opposite direction on the SW coastal path, to make up the full 5K. Didn’t have to go far. And in true Laura-student fashion, I finished it off with a short sprint #NHSC25KForever :)


Sadly, despite my thorough planning, that was to be the only run of that trip. The next 1.5 days were blown away by a storm hitting from the Atlantic, leaving us trapped indoor the whole time. And even when we did head out to one of my planned run locations – Saunton Sands beach – the winds were too strong and cold, and rain hovering about, to bother with a run.

Saunton Sands beach - Chewie galloping after the ball, as I walk after.
Saunton Sands beach – Chewie galloping after the ball, as I walk after.

The beach itself is beautiful. And vast. Long enough that I could run a 10K there without getting bored, or running out of space. Then it has sand dunes behind it to get in a bit of trail running, and hills at both ends if you hate your calves and quads. As perfect a running venue as I could’ve imagined.

Got to visit the venue of my 3rd planned run route on the final day of the vacation, the day we were driving back. It’s a lighthouse situated at the north-west edge of Devon & Hartland. The access to the actual lighthouse is closed due for health & safety reasons, but there’s a viewpoint on the hill above with beautiful views of the lighthouse, Lundy island, the coastal hills, and the Atlantic ocean all around.

The running route planned was on the coastal path – from the car park, through the observation point, running atop the coastal hills with views back towards the observatory, the lighthouse, and the observation point all along. Sadly, this too was entered in the list of routes I may run some day.

The journey back was uneventful. Mostly. Got cursed by a bunch of oldies after a lane full of us overtook a lane full of them on an uphill traffic jam. Then, a few dozen miles later, the curses took their effect, and the clutch slipped (and smoked) on another uphill section as I was overtaking a VW wagon!


An ok-ish part of the country – more for the car-owning, non-running crowd, than for younger, active folk. Most farms don’t have public passage, and the coastal path is only accessible from a few car parks far removed from most (non-seaside) towns and villages. Facilities are mediocre, and tourism (outside of Saunton sands) only modestly encouraged.

Good place to have run in, once. Not a place I’d be in a hurry to visit again.


Running like a tourist – Hartland Devon edition

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