Still eager to make the most of our regained post-Covid freedom, together with our friend Mark, Chris and I have just spent a long Bank Holiday weekend completing the first two sections of the 630 mile South West Coast Path.
Starting from Minehead in Somerset and ending in Poole in Dorset, some people walk the entire coast path in one go although most complete sections in smaller chunks. And obviously it can be walked in either direction although I’m not sure which one would be best! I’ve been inspired by a couple of books from people who have walked the entire route including the Salt Path by Raynor Winn and Just off for a Walk by Stephen Reynolds.
Lynmouth to Porlock Weir
Sadly Chris and I have to work and we don’t have a spare couple of months so its small sections for us at the moment! We were camping near Porlock and having arrived and set up the day before, the 3 of us got the coastal bus to Lynmouth to complete the 12.1 mile Lynmouth to Porlock Weir section. The bus runs daily during the summer and takes you through the scenic Exmoor National Park.
Upon arrival, the three of us agreed it would be necessary to start with a coffee and a short look around the picturesque village of Lynmouth, which is in Devon!
Lynmouth is at sea level at the foot of the Glen Lyn Gorge and it has a twin village called Lynton which is located 500 feet above! If you don’t wish to climb the steep path, there is a funicular connecting the two villages. Lynmouth has quaint streets and a historic harbour so is worth a visit if you are in the area.
We had a long day ahead and with our backpacks stuffed with water, snacks and a delicious Cornish pasty each we set off to join the coast path and start to make our way back to Porlock.
As soon as we left Lynmouth we had to climb the steep Countisbury Hill which zig zagged on a footpath through the trees next to the main A39. After a bit of a climb and already feeling exhausted we came to a sign which helpfully told us that we had completed half a mile and had another 12.5 miles to go!
But the higher we climbed, the more spectacular the views became…
Once at the top of the cliff the coast path undulated a bit until we came to a steep downhill section.
Following another steep ascent we shortly came to the beginning of several miles of woodland where we were delighted to come across a couple of cool-boxes, one which contained a selection of ice cold cans and bottles of water and the other a range of chocolate bars! You can help yourself however you need to go to PayPal and leave a donation which is used to buy food to feed the birds in the forest. At this point we chatted to a couple of young girls who had set off from Minehead that morning on the first day of the full 630 mile coastal walk!
This shaded section was most welcome on a warm sunny August day! At some point through these woods we had crossed the county border from Devon and back into Somerset.
We had to duck under this moss-covered branch and the exotic looking ferns and foliage gave an enchanted feeling to the woodland.
At times, we could see glimpses of the coast through small clearings in the trees.
We had several short stops along the entire route as we took our time to enjoy the walk and our surroundings.
After several hours, and having decided we needed to speed up a bit, we came to St Beuno’s Church which is said to be the smallest parish church in England. We had just had a conversation with a German woman who wasn’t happy as she wasn’t allowed to wild camp there!
Just past the church, as we approached Porlock Weir we walked through ancient tunnels.
We walked past the gatehouse of Porlock Toll Road which is a scenic 4.2 mile route that you can drive along for a small charge.
Finally we arrived at Porlock Weir, the end of this official section of the South West Coast Path! But this wasn’t the end of our walk… we still had to walk for 2 miles into the village of Porlock which is slightly inland.
Porlock is another small, attractive village with three pubs and some small cafes and bakeries. At the end of our walk we rewarded ourselves with a drink in the Castle from where we called a taxi to take us up to our campsite!
Woodcocks Ley Farm campsite was located at the top of a steep hill and having walked down it earlier in the morning to reach Porlock, through thick foliage and bracken, then spending the day walking up and down steep hills for about 15 miles, none of us had the energy to walk back up it!
Finishing our day with a few drinks and cooking our dinner on the camp fire.