Hartland AONB section
A high plateau of sandstone and slate meets the sea here in sheer cliffs up to 475 feet high. Cut through by streams, the serrated coastline makes for tough walking on the South West Coast Path, but it's not an AONB for nothing!
The little church at Morwenstow was once run by the Reverend Stephen ‘Parson’ Hawker, a poet and philanthropist. Inspired by the wild landscape he wrote many poems including the Cornish anthem 'Song of the Western Men' otherwise known as ‘Trelawny’. Hawker's Hut on the coast is built of ships’ timbers with a turf roof and here the Reverend Hawker reputedly used to smoke opium, compose verse and entertain guests such as Alfred Tennyson and Charles Kingsley.
All down the coast exposed, treeless pastureland runs right to the cliff edge. Further inland medieval fields are enclosed by grassy banks or stone Cornish hedges.
There are several deep river valleys with woods of ash, willow, oak and beech and also rare water meadows known as the 'Culm grasslands'. The area is sparsely populated with isolated farmsteads and a few single track roads weaving up the valley sides. Buildings are mostly of local slates, sandstone or cob, and in some of the hollows, ancient thatched cottages remain.
More modern buildings can be found just south of Morwenstow where GCHQ Bude looms over the countryside with its satellite dishes.
The AONB section ends below Menachurch Point just to the north of the town of Bude.
Take a walk around the AONB here