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Monday, 22 September 2014

Day 19 (last day) - Withypool to Lynmouth - Sunday 21st Sept.

This was the first day of nineteen that was not hazy and it couldn't have been a better day for it. I did have a reed-swamp-fest soon after leaving the hotel and went in over the top of my wretched Brashers for the first time on the trip, so wet feet for the rest of the day.

I was looking forward to the trek over Exmoor to locate Exe Head for the second time. I passed through on my LEJOG walk, but this time I would cross that path at right angles. I hadn't fully realised until writing this that I have walked to Exemouth on the SWCP, and now to Exe Head. Is there a viable route to trace this interesting river?

Compass and gps were needed to get to the river source, others who are better at following almost invisible tracks may not need all that gadgetry. It is strange how memory plays tricks, but when I finally homed in it was a much more elaborate location with fences and crossing paths than I remember.

That had been a great trip across the moor watching the light improve. I now followed a much more defined path following Hoarse Oak Water with fabulous semi wooded ravine views, and then a tricky bit of navigation at The Hoare Oak - no clues, followers must sort it for themselves - part of the fun.

That took me to a superb cropped grass ridgewalk with great views, and I met the first people of the day on my route, a family on horseback.

The final few kilometres into Lynmouth look deceptively easy on the map - a broad track through woodland for starters, but then a tortuous hill climb, descent, zig zag, narrow path that goes on forever. However, the wooded ravine views and the distant sea are worthwhile rewards.

After five and three quarter hours walking I was at the finish -Lynmouth, 12:45pm. My overriding concern was to find a public convenience. Once sorted the local brew shop informed me no bus anywhere until 5: 00pm. I started to hitch-hike to Minehead, my direction of travel to get home. After one lift of two miles I was in the middle of nowhere, and it was after 3:00pm, things were getting serious.

I crossed over the road and started hitching the other way back to Lynmouth. I got another lift to five miles down the road from Lynmouth to Barnstaple, again in the middle of nowhere. A guy in a a Land Rover with a Springer Spaniel stopped on his way home which was about three miles from Barnstaple. He drove me right past his house, then all the way to the railway station in Barnstaple, waited until I established it was not possible to get home tonight, then drove me to a hotel in the centre of Barnstaple where I am now typing up after a very satisfactory evening meal. There are still some very decent people about, but not many judging by the huge number that didn't stop. This trip is costing me a fortune, but worth every penny.




Looking back on the way to Exe Head, morning light forcing through


Now a bit of sunlight on the moor ahead


Off the path on the way to Exe Head


Exe Head


Hoarse Oak Water



Easy walking on the ridge to Cherriton


Incoming cavalry


A fellow Yeti owner. Loading lambs sold on to more lowland farmer for further fattening. His land doesn't have rich enough grass


Lynmouth


One of many views from path approaching Lynmouth




Lynmouth, just to prove I got there



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

4 comments:

gimmer said...

luck strikes again - you must give lessons to the rest of us!
the Devon County Council website describes a so-called Exe Valley Way - a head to toe route (or v/v) which curiously goes off stream after a short distance to join the Barle at Simonsbath all the way to Brushford where it rejoins the Exe (or goes to to Exeford from S/b for a quick look before back to Withypool!) - the lower valley after Brushford looks about as pretty as you can get but not quite the True Path you envisaged. No explanation provided for this non-event. Maybe you will need a machete, ropes/ladders and waders. More study required.

AlanR said...

Its been a fantastic journey and i have enjoyed every mile.

Sir Hugh said...

Gimmer - I'll have a look at that when I get back (on the train at the mo). Wouldn't grumble at visiting the Barle, from what I saw it's a damned attractive river.
I don't know about luck. May be that I can put on a sorry for myself face when hitch hiking, but it was a close thing yesterday. But, if that guy hadn't turned up something else would have. I haven't had to sleep under a hedge yet.

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Alan R - so have I.

Roderick Robinson said...

Hitchhiking. Very much a sometime thing. I have hitchhiked for whole holidays round the UK but the worst day ever was trying to get from Capel Curig to Chester, passed by thousands of cars on the coast road. But then I reflect. I have only once picked up a hitchhiker and that because I recognised his motives (he wore an RAF uniform). These days newspaper headlines don't encourage picking up.

Try and imagine what you look like to a car driver. Not the sturdily independent (And yet you're asking for a lift!) walker with honourable intentions, but someone who looks eccentric. Who is by most standards eccentric. And there are few Brits willing to accommodate what they perceive as a near madman. As much as anything it's the imagined monologue they fear. "It is an ancient mariner..."