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.