The second day of walking a small section of the South West Coast Path and this time Chris, Mark and I started from the beginning, the first 9 miles from Minehead to Porlock Weir. While the official route is 630 miles, much like we found when we walked 100 miles of the Via Francigena in Italy earlier in the year, this distance varies as sections can have different route options!
Following another al-fresco breakfast sitting outside our tents at the campsite, once again we trudged for the steep mile or so downhill, battling through the wilderness and into Porlock. The first coastal bus to Minehead was at 11:15 so today we had coffee in Porlock with the intention of cracking on with the walk as soon as we arrived in Minehead.
The bus arrived on time and we got to Minehead at 11:35. As a larger town, Minehead didn’t have the charm of Lynmouth or Porlock and it’s biggest claim to fame is its Butlins holiday camp. We didn’t hang around for long, purchased a Co-op meal deal to take with us for lunch and set off along the coast. We soon arrived at the SWCP monument which marks the official start.
We made our way with the sea to our right today (rather than our left as the previous day), past the sweeping bay of Minehead.
This would be the view if you are walking towards Minehead and is about a mile or so from the end (or start) of the South West Coast Path. Before long we had a steep climb up into the forest.
Leaving the woodland behind, the path opened up at the top of the cliffs and we entered the heather-covered moors at the edge of Exmoor National Park. This was relatively flat and with a soft spring under-foot it was easy walking!
As mentioned, the coast path has options! Rather than sticking with the soft and easy main coast path, we decided to take the rugged path which we understood would be more difficult but more breathtaking (maybe in more ways than one)…
The path was still fairly flat as we turned towards the rugged path and before long we felt it was time for lunch in this lovely spot overlooking the moorland and the sea.
Some weird pink webby stuff on this plant!
We continued after lunch and the rugged path certainly didn’t disappoint with its dramatic valleys and coastal views. We were in awe of the different types of terrain on just one small part of this huge lengthy coast path.
The coast at Exmoor is the highest in England and the path hugged the edge of the cliffs which reached an impressive height of 250 meters and meant some steep ascents and descents.
Today was a few miles shorter than our Lynmouth to Porlock stretch the previous day and in the late afternoon, Porlock Bay came into view.
Back to Porlock and tonight, following another drink in the Crown, Chris and I brought take-away award winning pie and chips from the popular ‘Piggy in the Middle’ before transporting this in a taxi back up to the campsite. While Piggy in the Middle specialises in local meat, they had a great selection of vegan pies and we would particularly recommend the jackfruit, ale and black pepper pie!
I first learned about the South West Coast Path some 15 years ago and decided back then that it would be great to walk its entire length. I’m not sure if I will ever walk it in one go and after some reflection I think the driver is not so much the challenge of such an extensive thru-hike but the memories and experiences of seeing the entire 630 miles of this spectacular English coastline and exploring the villages and towns along the way. Watch this space!!