For this years vacation we planned something new, a long distance walking holiday. Since I hadn't done this before we looked for an easy route to start with and the Coleridge Way in South-West England fit the bill perfectly. Coleridge Way is dedicated to the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge who was a founder of the Romantic Movement in English literature at the beginning of the 19th century and who lived in this area during that time.
We started in the quaint village Nether Stowey, where Coleridge Cottage, the house he lived in at the time and now a museum, is located. Of course we started off with visiting it and we learned a good bit about the poet and about the living conditions at that time. We stayed the night at The Old Cider House where we felt very welcome and had a splendid home cooked dinner and Furmity for breakfast, yummy!
The first day of walking led from Nether Stowey to Williton. On the way we crossed a beautiful hill and spotted a half wild horse family (two horses with a foal).
Williton itself is a bit off the main hiking route, but it was the closest place with accommodation. And the detour was well worth it. On the way we crossed a meadow with hundreds of sheep and in the hedges we spotted dozens of wild rabbits! Unfortunately, they stayed in the shadows and so we couldn't get a good picture.
After settling in at the White House, we headed out towards the railway station to look for a Geocache. A great decision! The station dates back to 1862 and still looks the same. A perfect place for a group of reenactors ;)
The second day was a short stretch to Roadwater where we arrived around 3pm, just in time to check into our room in The Valiant Soldier, a traditional English Inn. Since it was still early we headed onwards to Washford for another old railway station. This one was turned into a museum, which unfortunately was closed when we got there. But the walk there was wonderful with beautiful views of Bristol Channel and Wales.
Day three was another short distance to Wheddon Cross. Since we knew that we could walk more, we made a detour at Kingsbridge up into the Moor to look for a couple of Geocaches, most of which we found :). On top of the hill we spotted a small group of wild ponies in the distance! (Too far away for a picture, but still a beautiful sight)
Back on the trail Coleridge Way led us across Lype Hill, which was a huge meadow with hundreds of sheep. We were definitely blessed with animal encounters :)
Exhausted but happy we arrived at The Rest and Be Thankful, another 19th century inn where we had a great dinner and a good nights sleep.
From the Inn we saw the next days challenge: Dunkery Beacon, with 519 meters the highest point in Exmoor. And even though it was not on the official trail, we added it to our route because this was the real Exmoor and we didn't regret this decision. The views on the hill were stunning. And at the top we were greeted by a large group of wild ponies who weren't bothered by the tourists at all!
At the bottom of the hill we met the trail again and after crossing a small forest we spotted a deer, which quickly fled when it noticed us. The way continued to touristy Porlock and for us a bit further to Porlock Weir, a tiny hamlet and harbor. We couldn't resist to go for a short dip in the channel. Due to the cold water it was only a short experience ;).
At the beach there were leftovers of what looked like a bunker from the second World War, but it definitely had seen better days ;)
After another relaxing night at The Bottom Ship we started what turned out to be the most strenuous day to Brendon. On the one hand because the sun was shining brightly today, making it the hottest day so far and on the other hand because of two steep inclines which were in the open. In addition we added a scenic detour which added another couple of hundred of difference in altitude.
Completely exhausted we arrived at Millslade Country House where we received a very warm welcome with fresh lemonade, which was perfect for this day. After another delicious dinner, a relaxing night and a brilliant breakfast (pancakes with berries), we sadly departed. We wouldn't have minded staying a couple of days more.
And so we started our last day towards Lynmouth, which is another tourist hotspot. This we noticed soon, because the number of hikers and day guests increased dramatically. Whereas we had been walking for several hours without meeting someone, we crossed paths with others now every fifteen minutes. Nevertheless, it was a nice stretch through the wood and in the afternoon we finally arrived at the end of Coleridge Way, which was marked by a statue of Coleridge.
Since it wasn't too late, we did another extension and walked to Poets Corner which offered stunning views of the Valley of Rocks.
On the way back we even spotted a couple of wild goats on the cliff!
In summary, we were sad that it ended. We had a fantastic time and were very lucky with the good weather. On the other hand we were glad for a day of rest. All the walking did leave its marks with very tired limbs. But plans for the next walking holiday are already brewing in the back of our minds :).
We arranged this trip with the help of Encounter Walking Holidays, who were very friendly and did a great job in supplying us with all needed information (including gpx-track for my new GPS-device) as well as organizing all accommodation on the way.
Labels: Europe, geocaching, hiking, pictures, traveling