We stayed at Big Meadow for an extra day, finally leaving on Tuesday 27th July. After popping in to the VW dealer in Barnstaple to pick up a replacement relay, we headed up to the North Devon coast, across Exmoor, aiming for Lynton. As we came off the moor and turned for Lynton, we came across an incredibly tight corner heading up a hill. The van struggled to get round the corner and up the hill, but we thought we’d made it and were climbing up the subsequent slope as I noticed that the clutch wasn’t working properly. A nasty burning smell confirmed that the clutch had gone getting up and round the corner. Stuck halfway up the hill, with no forward traction and no mobile phone signal was a less than an ideal situation. Fortunately, several kind people stopped and offered help including a couple of young blokes in a Range Rover. They towed us to the top of the hill where we were able to call the RAC again. The RAC send a recovery vehicle and suggested that they recover us as far as the local garage at Lynton. As we couldn’t make it to a campsite, and with the clutch working a little, we found a quiet car park by a local football pitch and after a couple of drinks and a meal in Lynton, bedded down for the night.
The next morning we crawled up to the garage in Lynton only to find that they were too busy to be able to perform the repair for at least a week. Calling the RAC again resulted in them agreeing to perform a second recovery, as they had suggested the first garage themselves. The same guy turned up as the previous day, and we took the van to the VW garage in Barnstaple which we’d visited only the previous day.
Without the van, we had nowhere to sleep, so booked a couple of nights in the Royal & Fortescue Hotel in the centre of Barnstaple. Proper beds and a shower that you don’t you don’t have to feed with 20p coins or keep pressing a button for!
We spent a couple of days looking round Barnstaple, going to see Shrek 2 at the cinema (we needed a laugh at this point) and walking part of the Tarka Trail along the coast to Instow.