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

6th July – Bude to Elmscott

20180706 Beautiful coastal scenery
Beautiful coastal scenery


The extreme weather conditions have forced me to take some extreme action. I had a late start as I needed to shop but I also boxed up my tent and some other gear and sent it home.  Altogether it came to 4.4kg about a third of the weight of the rucksack. The weight problem is exacerbated by having to carry 3 litres of water ie 3 kilos.  In the heat the weight was just too much.  As I get fitter hopefully things will ease.

I left Bude around 10.30 and there was a noticeable difference. The path takes you over 8 big ascents and descents.  I stopped at Duckpool and Morwenstow for food and to replenish my water.

20180706 Duckpool

At Morwenstow a poorly signed diversion meant that I wasted 30 minutes walking down the valley, only to find the path was closed and I had to retrace my steps.

Carrying on I decided that I had to divert to the Youth Hostel at Elmscott as I was running out of water.  I had tried to book but the hostel was full.  I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find it was actually almost empty and I had a room to myself.  They also had a small shop so I could buy dinner.