Letter from Exmoor: Green and Pleasant Land Meets the Sea

By Keith Hunt. Originally posted on Keith Hunt’s blog on 7 July 2014

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On Sunday, the weather was perfect for a walk to Lynmouth and back again. With just two weeks until I take part in the Race to the Stones 100k this was my last chance to go for a long walk in preparation for it.

Once I had taken James to Bishops Lydeard for his day helping on the West Somerset Railway for their Thomas the Tank Engine weekend (another one next weekend if you missed it!) and Poppy to work in Minehead, I headed to Porlock for a day’s walking. I ended up parking the car near West Porlock and walked down to Porlock Weir. Back at home, there were some clouds about but here, the skies were blue and the views were really clear with the sun getting quite hot by now at 10.45 as I set off. It was still quiet with just a few visitors and the Ship Inn getting ready for a busy day on their festival weekend – The Weirfest. It was nearly high tide with a few boats bobbing on the calm water.

The coastpath is accessed from behind the Anchor Hotel or alternatively up some steps past the local businesses. The path runs alongside a couple of fields until it joins a small road which you walk along until reaching the Worthy Road Toll Lodge. To the right is an arched gateway to walk through before the path climbs up and through some unusual archways which I read were the creation of Lord Lovelace after spending some time in Italy. The path zig-zags up for a while including diversions after landslips in recent years. The path continues though woodland where dappled sunlight, birds singing and small streams  trickling down to the sea below make this an idyllic walk. After 2 miles, I arrived at Culbone settlement – a few cottages and England’s smallest parish church.

From here, there are a choice of two paths of which I took the lower path through Culbone Woods and the combes towards the Glenthorne Estate. At this point, you can walk down to the beach through an impressive Pinetum with it’s giant Redwood trees. Tucked away is also an old victorian Ice House. Continuing my walk, the coast path passes Sister’s Fountain, a natural spring below a man-made cairn and a large slate cross. The path then rises and meets a track going through a pair of stone pillars with a boar’s head on each one before passing a pretty victorian woodland lodge. Further along the track, the path leads off to the left along Glenthorne Cliffs and the first views of Foreland Point and looking back, views to Hurlestone Point as well as clear views across the Bristol Channel to Wales.

Once the path joins the road at Foreland, you can take the coast path or like me, walk down the access road to the lighthouse and taking great care, walk along the scree path around the point to rejoin the coast path at Countisbury where the cliffs are the highest in England. From here, you can see straight ahead to Lynmouth and Lynton as you walk down the hill, making sure you take time to enjoy the views in all directions. I arrived in Lynmouth at 2:45 so just 4 hours walking from Porlock Weir although I did walk at a fairly brisk pace. I would recommend this walk to anyone who enjoys walking as it is not that hard going. Allow around six hours to give yourself time to rest and enjoy the views and the peacefulness of the surroundings. The coastal 300 bus service is available to take you back to Porlock and Minehead. The last one leaves Lynmouth at around 5pm but check times online.

At Lynmouth, I had my packed lunch followed by a Styles ice cream before my return walk heading back up Countisbury Hill to the Blue Ball and a little further before turning right, down into the Doone Valley to walk through Brendon, Malmesmead, Oare and Robbers Bridge where it was time to take my boots off for a while and let my feet recover before heading back up the hill to the A39 where I crossed to walk from a path at the top of the main toll road down through woodland to Porlock Weir. As I reached the Worthy toll road, there were signs informing no walkers or cyclists were permitted and alternative paths should be used. I will enquire as to why that is as that seems a very strange rule. If I had my bike, I would not have wanted to take that anong the very rough path and would probably damage it by doing so. Hopefully, there are signs informing cyclists before they take the long descent. As I arrived back at Porlock Weir, the Weirfest was in full swing with live music playing to a large gathering. After my long walk, I was looking forward to getting home and a relax in the bath! An excellent day’s walking though a few miles short of what I planned.

Here are my Fitbit results: 53,557 steps. 25.85 miles. 4,680ft  ascent. 475 active minutes. 6315 calories burne

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