16th July – Cheddar to Gordano Services

King John’s Hunting Lodge, Axbridge near Cheddar


A much better day than yesterday as it was marginally less hot, with a cooling breeze at times. The route was also more interesting.

I left the rest of the hostel occupants sleeping and crept out at 6.45.

20180716 tunnel on the Strawberry Line trail
Approaching the tunnel on the Strawberry Line Trail

Knowing the Mendips quite well I did not see the need to go up the gorge and climb over Beacon Batch. I took the more obvious route following the Strawberry Line trail to Yatton. That way I got 11 miles done before having a late breakfast at 10.30 in the Strawberry Line cafe at Yatton Station.

Sitting at the station I remembered that in 1978 I caught the early train from there when I first moved to Debenhams. Instead of putting me up in a hotel in London they agreed to let me travel First Class each day. I was only an Assistant Buyer. How the job market has changed.

20180716 Kenn Moor road
The (Kenn Moor) road goes ever on…

From Yatton I followed the 3.5km straight of Kenn Moor Road and then took to the fields along the drainage ditch to the Blind Yeo before emerging onto the B3130. All easy walking except for a slight altercation with an over-friendly herd of cows and their big friend.

20180715 Some locals who shared their field with me
Some of the locals who shared their field with me

I was looking forward to some tea, at the cafe at Golden Acres Nursery and Fruit Farm, only to find the whole site derelict and abandoned. Fighting my way through brambles and vegetation I managed to find the exit from the site and continued up to Cadbury Camp.

From there to Clapton Court was a nightmare trying to force my way along a path which was so overgrown I almost had to go on hands and knees to get through at one point.

I stopped for a drink at the Black Horse at Clapton in Gordano before reaching the hotel at the motorway services at 3.45. Just after I arrived there was a heavy shower of rain!!

The hotel is undergoing renovation, so it is cheap, and I can get a subsidised breakfast tomorrow at Harry Ramsden’s.

Tomorrow I cross the Avon and head for Aust.

15th July – Bridgwater to Cheddar

042 First harvested field on the trip
First harvested field on the trip


This was a hard day. It was very hot, there is very little shade on the Somerset Levels, and the route was long and boring. I have joked with several people that if I ever take on another trip it will be in Holland.   Today showed me the error of my ways.

042 Typical Somerset Levels road
Typical Somerset Levels road

I left Bridgwater at 6.45, crossed the M5, and then made my way, via roads and virtually non existent paths, to Bradney, Bawdrip, Cossington, Gold Corner and River Brue before arriving at Blackford.

043 Typical Somerset Levels track
Typical Somerset Levels track

The Sexey’s Arms provided some much needed non alcoholic refreshments.

The trail finally rose up to Middle Stoughton and Brinscombe Hill before entering Cheddar via Cheddar Reservoir.

046 Axminster from Brinscombe Hill
Axbridge from Brinscombe Hill

I arrived at the hostel at 4.40 to find it closed until 5.00. From then on life improved as they had a restaurant and bar.

On a nostalgic note I remembered that Lin and I had our first camping trip together in Cheddar, on another very hot weekend, in 1975.

The best thing to say about the day is that another 20 miles have been completed.

14th July – Bicknoller to Bridgwater

Saturday 14th July

031 Masons Arms Williton

The Mason’s Arms, a 16th century inn, at Williton was very comfortable and I had an early breakfast and was back at Bicknoller by 8.20.

032 SW from Quantock Ridge
South-west from the Quantock ridge



Today started with a 250m climb up onto the Quantock ridge.  The views were magnificent and justified the hard work. Once on the ridge it was easy walking over Thorncombe Hill and Black Hill before dropping down to Triscombe Stone.

035 Somerset Levels from Lydeard Hill
Somerset Levels from Lydeard Hill


The route then goes over Wills Neck 384m, the highest summit in the Quantocks, before unusually not going to the summit of Lydeard Hill but contouring its north slope. Leaving the Quantocks behind I dropped towards Bridgwater across farmland. Here there was the normal problem of paths being nonexistent on the ground or deliberately not maintained. Only in Devon have they been basically passable.

040 Enmore School 1810
Enmore School, 1810

Eventually I reached the road to Enmore and stopped in the village to look at the school. This was established as the first free elementary school in England in 1810 and is still in use. The Tynte Arms provided much needed liquid refreshment.

From Enmore I choose to follow the lanes to Bridgwater via Andersfield and Goathurst. This was uninspiring, but quick, and I reached Bridgwater at 4.00pm and my guesthouse for the night, just in time to see England lose to Belgium. The Admiral Blake Guest House is homely and welcoming but not in the most salubrious part of Bridgwater.  Walking up to the High Street it was noticeable that all the shops had steel shutters.

I am planning another early start tomorrow as it is 20 miles to Cheddar with little opportunity to cut corners and lots of extra miles possible if some of the route is impassable.

13th July – Luxborough to Bicknoller

20180713 Brendon Hills
The Brendon Hills on a gloomy morning


Today I crossed the Brendon Hills leaving the Exmoor National Park behind at Monksilver.

I had a late start at 9.00am after a fine breakfast at the Royal Oak. I changed my plan last night when I discovered that the pub had drying facilities so took the opportunity to get some clothes washed. When I was on Ride-Stride-Glide, my John O’Groats to Land’s End trip, my brother Alan took care of all the support work, but this time it is down to me.

20180713 Peacock Butterfly
Peacock butterfly

Today’s route was a third less than yesterday in distance but with around the same amount of climbing. Basically it was a roller coaster of ascent over ridges before descending to river valleys.

A steep pull up from Luxborough was followed by the descent into Roadwater. Two kilometres of up hill later I went downhill to Monksilver where I had tea at the the pub.

20180713 Church at Nettlecombe
Picturesque church at Nettlecombe

Travelling on to Bicknoller involved another up followed by the inevitable descent. Somehow I missed a turning off of the main route. I was very pleased that I had made an error as I had assumed that the bus stop I wanted would be in the village. However, it was on the main A358, just where I joined, it and a bus arrived within 5 minutes at 3.03.

Five minutes later I was at Williton looking for the Mason’s Arms.

Tomorrow is a much longer day, 25k with 580m of ascent. The good news is that I can get just under half of the climbing done in the first 2km ascending to the main Quantock ridge.

20180713 Main Quantock Ridge
The main Quantock ridge in the distance

12th July – Warren Farm to Luxborough

20180712 Approaching Dunkery Beacon
Approaching Dunkery Beacon


Many thanks to Trudy who got up to give me breakfast at 6.30. Andrew and Trudy at Warren Farm could not have been more helpful and welcoming during my stay.

I left at 7.35 contouring above the Exe before crossing Ellmsworth, Almsworth and Exford Commons. I climbed onto the ridge, which forms the main watershed of Exmoor, at Rowbarrows before ascending to Dunkery Beacon 519m, the highest point I reach until the Black Mountains in Wales.

20180712 Dunkery Beacon
Dunkery Beacon

The route then descends to Dunkery Gate and on to Wheddon Cross.  I managed to get some tea and lunch at the village shop before climbing up onto White Moor and Lype Hill.  I left the proposed route to follow a quicker, but supposedly “inferior”, trail to cross the Washford River at Kingbridge and reached the the Royal Oak at 2.00pm.  As this trail was on a good track down a beautiful valley and the “superior route” would have meant beating out a trail in knee high vegetation I maintain that it was the right decision!

20180712 Inferior track and valleyJPG
‘Inferior’ track and valley

The one excitement of the day was when I put up a doe about 20m from the path to Roebarrow. We were both quite surprised.  My one regret from my days on Exmoor is that I did not see the large herd of stags that live near Warren Farm. Andrew showed my photos of around 50 stags he had seen a week earlier.

20180712 Royal Oak
Royal Oak Inn, Luxborough

11th July – Challacombe to Warren Farm

20180711 Pinkworthy Pond
Pinkworthy Pond


A relaxed day today as it was a short walk over glorious moorland.

A late breakfast at 8.00am meant that I had a good nights sleep. I was dropped off at the village shop in Challacombe and left, after replenishing supplies, at 10.15.

Crossing the old packhorse Bridge I climbed up the ridge on South Lane descended to the road and ascended up to Wood Barrow. Turning right I descended to Pinkworthy Pond, diverted off the route to visit Chains Barrow 487m, and then passed Exe Head, the source of the River Exe.

20180711 Source of River Exe
The source of the River Exe – no wonder there’s no water in the river!

Walking down to Exe Head Bridge was followed by walking up to Prayway Head. Here I followed the ridge above the Exe before descending very steeply down the old Postman’s Path to Warren Bridge. A short walk up the access road got me back to the farm by 2.45pm.

20180711 Warren Farm
The Exe valley with Warren Farm in the distance

The next few days will be longer. Lack of any accommodation or campsites means the I have to go from Cheddar to Aust in two days stopping at Gordano Services on Monday. I will be going home to Wantage on Wednesday 18th as I am well ahead of schedule and need to sort out my pack. I must take a tent for the next sections so some other things need to go.

10th July – Barnstaple to Challacombe

023 First sight of Exmoor
First sight of Exmoor

Tuesday 10th July

I had a slight timing issue today as I had arranged to meet my landlady for the evening at 4.00, at the pub in Challacombe.  Not wanting to be late, I left Barnstaple at 6.15 using my End to End Trail guide.  All was going well until I had to go down a footpath in the town between houses 74 & 73.  73 exists but 74 is a housing estate of flats and the alley is no longer there.  More delay as I found another way.
The first part of the route, once the town is left behind, was delightful going along a green lane above the River Yeo.
Emerging above Collard Bridge I was not inspired with confidence when the guide stated “It should be possible to follow the right of way once the trees have grown.”  As it was easy to nip down a country lane this is what I did. The author of the guide is obsessed with avoiding any roads and often proposes long and unnecessary detours.
Climbing out of the valley I was soon at Bratton Fleming and treated myself to a late breakfast.
024 The ford at Challacombe
The ford at Challacombe
Dropping down into the valley of the River Bray at Leeham Bridge I rose again to cross the watershed of the River Barle and arrived in Challacombe.
Small technical hitch. It was 11.45 and the pub had not yet opened!
025 Black Venus Inn
The Black Venus Inn – a great place for a 3-hour lunch break
It seemed churlish not to stay for a long and relaxed lunch and to rehydrate.  I eventually rang the B&B and got picked up.
Warren Farm is beautifully situated at around 400m on the edge of Exmoor. The farmer’s wife says that it was very different in the winter when there were 15 foot snowdrifts as they were lambing.
026 Warren Farm
Warren Farm


Tomorrow will be another short day as I only have to walk from Challacombe to the farm.  I could have easily reached here today but I have accommodation booked until Sunday which I cannot change.  A Catch 22 situation.

9th July – Bideford to Barnstaple

019 Tarka Trail to Barnstaple
The Tarka Trail to Barnstaple


A much more relaxed day. The route along the Tarka Trail follows the old railway track and is very flat.  Consequently I was able to enjoy a late breakfast and leave at 8.30.

021 Appledore and the River Torridge
Appledore and the River Torridge
020 Teashop at Fremington
Teashop at Fremington

My route took me past Appledore and Fremington, and a little after 12.30 I arrived in Barnstaple.

022 Approaching Barnstaple long bridge
Approaching Barnstaple Long Bridge

This left plenty of time for going shopping for vital supplies and a lunchtime beer in one of the many pubs.  Naturally the Premier Inn was some way from the centre and up the hill. The local Tesco is opposite so getting supplies was easy.

I have quite a big day tomorrow and plan to leave at 6.00 to ensure that I make it to the pub in Challacombe for 4.00pm and my lift to Warren Farm. I have a taxi booked for 6.00 to take me down to Barnstaple. My rules are that I will walk the total distance. If I need to take a bus, lift, or taxi to accommodation or shops I return to the exact spot where I left the route.

I have sent the guidebook for the Coastal Path and all the maps home as they are no longer needed and every gram of weight is worth saving. The scenery along the coast is spectacular but would have been much more enjoyable with just a day sack with a few essentials.

8th July – Clovelly to Bideford

20180708 Clovelly Harbour
Clovelly Harbour


After an excellent breakfast at the Durante House Hotel my taxi dropped me back at the visitor’s centre at Clovelly at 9.00.

It was already very hot so I enjoyed the fact that to Bucks Mill, and beyond, the path was mainly in woods. After Bucks Mill the path follows the cliff edge descending to Peppercombe and then going up and down via Rowden Gut and Babbercombe Mouth before descending to the sea at Westcliffe and finally going over Greencliff before joining the old railway to Westward Ho!

20180708 Peppercombe and the route to Westward Ho
Peppercombe and the route to Westward Ho!

I took a recommended shortcut to Bideford just before Westward Ho! and was delighted to come out about 1 km from my hotel at 3.45pm.

20180708 Turning off the coastal trail near Westward Ho
Turning off the coastal trail near Westward Ho!

The hotel has laundry facilities so I now have clean kit.

Tomorrow I go to Barnstaple along the Tarka Trail and will then leave the Coastal Path behind to go across Exmoor, the Quantocks and the Mendips before crossing the Severn Bridge and entering Wales.

On a practical note I have to replace a vital piece of clothing which is somewhere on the trail I walked yesterday.  I was drying socks etc hanging from my pack and it obviously dropped off.  Luckily Barnstaple has an M&S!

7th July – Elmscott to Clovelly

20180707 Approaching Hartland Point
Approaching Hartland Point

I left the hostel at 6.30 as I was anticipating possibly having to walk as far as Bideford to find somewhere to stay.  The route to Hartland Point continued with steep river valleys that had to be crossed and I was delighted when I turned east at Hartland Point.

20180707 Hartland Point Lighthouse
Hartland Point Lighthouse

Psychologically I knew that the most difficult sections of the path were now behind me.  That was a mistake as the trail was still very steep, just relatively easier.

20180707 rock formation near Hartland Point
Near Hartland Point

I reached Clovelly around 2.00 pm on a blisteringly hot day and could not face continuing.  Luckily there was a bus to Bideford, where I will stay for two nights.  Tomorrow I will get a taxi to Clovelly and then walk back to my hotel.

This evening I have sorted out places to stay for the next 5 nights.

The last 4 days are the hardest on the trail, until Scotland, each with well over 1000m of climbing, and I am glad they are behind me.

20180707 Lundy Island
Misty Lundy Island