Wednesday 11 May 2016
Porlock, Somerset to Lynmouth, Devon
The Captain’s House B&B
So the rain that had been promised finally arrived. It was pouring down when I awoke, and misty. It was definitely not the sort of weather that inspires one to go walking. I ate a big breakfast and delayed my departure for as long as possible.
Ignoring the heavy rain and lack of visibility I enjoyed the calm and quiet. Porlock Weir was a beautiful little village, even more quaint than Porlock. I could just see along the shingle bank that (almost) bounds in the salt marsh; the breach created by Hurricane Lili in 1996 was visible.
I entered the beautiful old woods on the side of the steep cliff, which I would spend nearly all day walking through. It felt almost prehistoric in the damp, dense wood, carpeted by moss and ferns (no bluebells). I loved it.
St Bueno’s Church, Culbone, is tiny and hidden 400 feet up the cliff in a wooded combe. I counted 2 houses next to it so I’m not sure where the rest of the parishioners come from. Apparently this grade 1 listed building is in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest complete church in England. It really was tucked away in the woods.
After a morning completely on my own I started to see other people on the path. Just after I crossed the border into Devon I caught up with Tanya from yesterday, and she was walking with Jarmo from Sweden. We walked together for the rest of the day. It was different walking in company, particularly foreign visitors, and I finished my day 2 hours later than I expected, but I enjoyed chatting.
Unexpectedly, the rain eased off and the 3 of us eventually popped out of the woods and were able to get glimpses through the mist of the coast and the sea below. We must have left the influence of the Bristol Channel because the sea was more blue and green than dirty brown. That made me smile. The walk to Foreland Point and over Countisbury Common was more open and exposed more of the Exmoor moorland that I had expected to see.
As we approached Lynmouth our party of 3 swelled to 5. I had spent barely 2 days on the SW Coast Path and already I was at a European walking convention. This was getting weird. We picked up Petra from Switzerland and Bernadette from Austria. All of my companions had come to England (separately) to hike part of the SW Coast Path; an internationally well-known trail route. Petra had done most of it in 2010 and was returning to finish it off by heading to St Ives. I wondered if this was a sign of things to come – a busy path where I constantly bump into others “on the trail”. I wasn’t sure whether I liked that thought. I did like the thought that other women across Europe were happy to come here and walk alone.
We descended into Lynmouth through the mist. The East and West Lyn Rivers meet and run through the middle of this town, which nestles at the base of the surrounding hills. There is a cliff railway to get up the hill to Lynton that I remembered from a childhood holiday visit.
The 5 of us went our separate ways and perhaps I’ll bump into some of them again “on the trail”. I had booked a B&B in the morning when the rain looked set for the day. As it was so late (almost 6 pm) I was glad that I didn’t have to walk out of town to the campsite and pitch my tent.
I ate a very nice, and expensive, fresh fish dinner in the Rising Sun Hotel. What a strange and wonderful day.