Part two of our South West Coast Path Walk started with a drive up the Exe Valley to Exmoor and this time we drove over the top and looked at the views, over to the Quantocks, the Minehead headland where we started last time and the flat plain of Porlock where we ended our previous walk across the saltmarsh.
We camped right in the centre of Porlock at a nice little sight with sea views and went for a little explore that evening and tried out the local park.
The support crew gave us a lift to Porlock Weir in the morning and it looked quite different with the tide in, but we were soon on our way.
Our approach scared some lambs from the path, back under the fence to their mothers and we saw the first of many foxgloves on our way to the Toll House, where vehicles can pay for the privilege of getting to Lynmouth without having to negotiate the infamous Porlock Hill. We however, took the right hand option and the path to Culborne Church and beyond.
Whilst the path was steep in places, on the whole this stretch of the path felt flatter than last time and was mainly through woodland, with the occasional glimpse at the sea.
The path passes so close to Culborne Church that it would be rude not to poke your head inside. Especially when you know it’s going to be your last look at civilisation for a while.
We took the more coastal route and it was reasonably flat, with the odd little steep detour round a landslide. The coombes on this stretch were less dramatic, and therefore easier to navigate, we could generally hear the little streams and waterfalls before we could see them. There were still the occasional glimpses of the coast and at one The Boy even spotted a rainbow down below us.
We crossed the county line back into Devon from Somerset just before the little shrine at Sisters Fountain (where a stream emerges from the hillside), and found the boars head gateposts the guidebook mentions with ease. Soon after we hoped to have lunch with a view of the sea as the map showed we would be out of the woods, however, the rhodedendrums that have spread along this part of the coast continued to hamper our view, rendering several old benches built into the wall less tempting than they presumably were when built.
We eventually got our view and a lunch spot, and the boy celebrated by sending his Dad a text from my phone (what a great spot for a technology lesson, he’s still getting used to predictive text as he doesn’t have his own phone yet) and then it started raining! Never mind, we were soon back in amongst the trees and yet more rhodedendrums.
The rain had cleared when we finally emerged from the trees just before Foreland Point, and we decided to take a slight detour round the headland to see the lighthouse. The views there were spectacular, but the path from the lighthouse round the far side of the headland was little more than a goat track on a steep hillside and had a couple of warning signs to boot. It felt far too risky to me, so we retraced our steps back and went over the top of the headland instead.
Finally we could see Lynmouth and it was only two miles away, nearly there and all downhill, this is the easy bit I thought.
But it was pretty windy on that headland and we were basically walking along a narrow path along a steep cliff with nothing to break our fall if we slipped. I was pretty terrified most of the way down until we reached the wooded lower slopes.
The support crew were patiently waiting for us we came out onto the beach, having already scoped out the toilets and a likely looking fish and chip shop, and we all had tea there before heading back to the van, which was parked near a slightly depressing sign informing us that we had come 20 miles from Minehead and still had 609 to go to Poole. We didn’t even actually complete the suggested days walk, which was due to end up the hill in Lynton.
It was a slightly frazzled trip to the next campsite, in trying to avoid some of the steepest hills but still find a cashpoint in the middle of nowhere, we somehow ended up going round in circles for a while, and backseat navigators with Asperger’s are not the most calming people to have around in such situations, but we got there in the end and the kids even got to toast marshmallows. The real treat though, was the breakfast fritatta that LSH made the next morning in his new Dutch Oven, which was The Best Camping Breakfast Ever.