Devon entrepeneur sets up pop-up coffee shop on Tarka Trail
PUBLISHED: 11:16 31 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:16 31 October 2017
Whatever the weather, there's a welcome sight for the Tarka Trail's walkers and cyclists who are in need of refreshment, discovers Catherine Courtenay
Whether walking or cycling from Barnstaple along the Tarka Trail you’ll spot the tiny figure, stood by what looks like a box on wheels covered by a big umbrella, from far off.
Get closer and Kirk Lace and his custom-made coffee trike hones into view. Positioned just where the South West Coast Path joins the trail at Yelland, Bake and Brew is a welcome, and unique sight, made even more pleasurable by the huge smile and friendly greeting.
“People recognise me when I’m walking down the street in Barnstaple and say: ‘You’re that guy who sells coffee on the Tarka Trail!’” Kirk seems a little bemused by his apparent fame, but it’s easy to see why, in just a few weeks, he’s made such an impact on the walkers, cyclists and dog owners who regularly use this section of the pathway between Barnstaple and Bideford.
I’d spent just five minutes in the chirpy 27-year-old’s company and already he was helping people with directions, advising on the best spots for local wildlife and passing on restaurant recommendations to holidaymakers en route to Bideford.
Kirk, it seems, has time for everyone, and likes nothing more than serving hot coffee and his home-made tray bakes to weary travellers.
What also strikes you after finding out a little more about the chef-turned-coffee-and-cake-seller is his incredible determination; because it was no easy ride setting up Bake and Brew.
He got the idea after spotting something similar in Padstow, but it was difficult finding the right sort of bike, one which could facilitate the making of hot drinks and be as eco-friendly as possible.
After 18 months, he tracked down someone in Blackpool who customised a bicycle from Kirk’s own sketched designs. At the same time, Kirk meticulously researched the Tarka Trail to find just the right spot to set up – before providing all the necessary evidence to persuade the council to give him a licence.
“I spent the whole of last summer up and down the trail, speaking to anybody and everybody,” he says.
A cook all his life, he cheffed around North Devon after “falling into it” at school, but his dream was always to do his own thing.
Now he shares that dream with his partner Eilidh Morrow who helps him with cake making duties, each evening cooking brownies, flapjacks, granola bars and tiffin, which are vegan and/or gluten free.
As well as meeting people, he enjoys wildlife spotting. “I’ve seen sparrow hawks – it’s like Springwatch down here,” he enthuses. But, despite having achieved his dream, it’s not all plain sailing because every day he has to contend with the elements.
“One day I saw a lightening strike and thought ‘what am I doing here!’” he laughs.
On reflection, I don’t suppose there’s much the weather can do to put off this young man and his coffee trike.
“I want to be that hearty soul who’s always here,” he says.
Kirk is based on the Tarka Trail up until October half term and in the winter months he’ll be available for private hire. Find him on Facebook: BakeandBrew.