The first stop on our road trip along the south-west coast of England was Somersault, a music, adventure and well-being festival set in the heart of North Devon’s beautiful countryside. The photos we had seen from the previous year (also the festival’s first year) awakened memories of our childhood summer holidays, with people swinging from trees into a sparkling river, scrambling over rocks and dozing in long grass under the sun. With this nostalgic setting, and the line-up of all the indie folk/rock bands you could dream of (Bombay Bicycle Club, Angus & Julia Stone and Bear’s Den to name a few), we booked our tickets right away.
However, when we arrived at the festival site on the Thursday evening, having driven almost 5 hours to get there, it was dark and cold and starting to rain. So Dan quickly set up our tent whilst I sat under my raincoat, waiting for our pasta to boil and praying that the rain would be gone by morning…
We ended up sleeping through twelve hours of relentless rain, and unzipped our tent to see people walking by wearing water-proof ponchos and mud. We missed the ‘Sunrise Yoga and Surf Session’ we had booked, convincing ourselves that no-one could possibly want to perform a few downward dogs in this weather, and decided to drive to nearby Croyde to see how the surf was. With as much luck with the surf conditions as we had with the weather, we gave up and dived into the Wild Thyme Café for a steaming coconut, spinach and butternut squash curry to raise our spirits.
The next morning we woke up to glorious sunshine! After doing a little jig to celebrate, we sprinted to the car and spent the day exploring the wild coastline of North Devon. With our Wild Guide leading the way (the official Bible of our trip), we followed its directions down to Broadsands Beach, a double cove with an island you can climb.
From here, we embarked upon a wild goose chase in search of Hunter’s Inn, where the book told us we would find a path leading down to Heddon’s Mouth beach. On the hunt for Hunter’s Inn, we stopped off at Holdstone Down, a high wilderness of rusty bracken and purple heather. We started to climb the hill when we heard a strange noise drifting down from the summit. As we reached the top, we found a tribe of walkers chanting in a large circle, facing out towards the sea.
We continued on down the winding country lanes until we finally came to the Inn, and walked a mile through a deep wooded valley along a stream. After wading across the stream we sat down and had a well-deserved picnic, before setting off again for Woody Bay, a cove which the book promised had a ‘magical tidal pool’ which you can swim in. So with high anticipation of this ‘magic’ pool, we followed a long forest path that twisted and turned down down down through the trees and finally to the coast. Although it was a bit too chilly to dive into the tidal pool, the wild, rocky cove had an other-worldly stillness to it. The light was beginning to fade, so we made our way back up the wooded cliff to get back in time to watch Bombay Bicycle Club.
The rain returned on our last day at Somersault, so we thought we may as well get wetter and go surfing at Croyde. We hired boards from Ralph’s Surf Shop, who were very helpful when I was deciding which wetsuit to buy. After a very wet and windy four hours in the water, we enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate from the pub across the road from Ralph’s and drove back to listen to the husky voices and muted guitar notes of Angus and Julia Stone. With a few hours to kill before the last headline act played, we trudged back through the mud to the car to cook dinner on the roadside before wandering around the festival’s boutiques and food stalls. We loved the soft jumpers and tees at the We Do Nothing Collective tent!
Ending the weekend on a high, Crystal Fighters put on a psychedelic show of mesmeric lights and tribal beats, transporting the dancing crowd far away from the damp fields of North Devon. Despite the bad weather, everyone was in high spirits all weekend, pulling up their wellington boots and stomping through the mud in true British fashion, in one of the most beautiful counties in the country.