The Uttlesford Ramblers

Making a walk a pleasure

Exmoor and the Quantocks April 2018

This year’s spring break took us to the West Country with 21 members travelling to Dunster in Somerset for a weekend walking in Exmoor and the Quantocks staying in the Yarn Market Hotel.

All had a fairly trouble free journey on the Friday and met in the bar of the hotel for a pre-dinner drink and to catch up with friends who we hadn’t seen for some time. It was a very enjoyable meal with the group taking over most of the dining room. David and Madeleine, who had organised the trip, then explained the timetable for the next couple of days before we adjourned to bed ready for an early start the next morning.

The Saturday morning began with a plentiful breakfast before we set off in the mini-buses to the start of the walk at County Gate. This area straddles the border between Somerset and Devon with views to the south over the famous Doone Valley towards Exmoor’s high moorland and north over the Bristol Channel to Wales. Setting off downhill we were, for a time, above the mist coming from the sea but this was soon cleared by a stiff breeze to give plenty of sunshine and the promised views. The walk continued along the undulating path of the Coleridge Way descending down to join the South West Coast Path and the tiny church at Culbone. This is said to be the smallest parish church in England, seating only 30 people but still holds regular services although it is 1.5 miles from the nearest road. After a picnic lunch in the sunshine the walk continued along the coast to Porlock Weir before finally turning inland to finish the 9 miles at Porlock village. Here there was time for a welcome cup of tea (or something stronger!) before our journey back to Dunster. After dinner we were invited by David and Madeleine to take part in a light hearted quiz. Three teams were made by drawing names out of a hat so there was no chance of all the ‘clever-clogs’ sticking together! Thanks to Daphne for thinking of that but not too sure it worked out like that. The quiz completed and the prize awarded we once again retired to bed tired after a very busy day.

Sunday’s walk was to take us to the Quantocks and, as we rarely seem to have two fine days together, we were greeted by a dull day with heavy cloud. After a hearty breakfast to keep out the cold, waterproof jackets and over trousers were reluctantly put on for the ride to the start. Emerging from the mini-buses at West Bagborough we were welcomed by light rain and so started the climb up to the ridge. No views to admire on this walk although we were ensured the sea was somewhere to our left (or was it right?). The walk continued along the ridge visiting three trig points along the way the highest being at 384metres. Lunch was a very hurried picnic standing in the rain which seemed reluctant to stop. The afternoon continued with the rain becoming showery and, of course, as we walked down to the end of a very soggy 7 miles at West Quintoxhead the sun came out. Having dried out a little while waiting for the mini-buses the journey back to the hotel didn’t seem to take too long and there we were greeted by tea and homemade biscuits. After dinner there were farewells as some were making an early start for home the next day. It had been a very successful weekend with grateful thanks to David and Madeleine for making all the arrangements and leading the walks. Also a big thank you to the Yarn Market Hotel for such a great welcome, friendly staff, excellent food and good service, maybe we will see you again.

Friday, January 18, 2019