Day 2’s walk of 23.4 km with 744 mtrs ascent and 937 mtrs descent. (Click for a larger version)
Day 2’s walk was all about getting to the coast whilst taking in some of the sights of Exmoor.
It was a by-the-numbers walk with navigation and adherence to the plan running like clockwork.
However, Day 2 would provide me with a preview of things to come with some rather nasty large swarming flies. These flies didn’t seem to bite, but it can make for a very unpleasant walk when there are ten to fifteen of them following one around and swarming around ones head!
They seemed particularly prevalent around the coastal areas and it was the first time I had encountered flies like this. I wondered if they were a feature of Somerset’s North Coast? I will write up more about them on Day 3’s report where they really got out of hand…
Anyways, on with the photo journal!
A good breakfast is a good start for a day of hiking!
After breakfast the first task is to fill up the water for the up and coming walk. Day 2’s route should have more water sources than Day 1, but never the less I opt to fill one of the 1 Litre Platypus collapsable bottles.
As with all my camp spots I leave the area in pristine condition!
I now take the trail NorthWestward. The objective for this leg is to locate and cross the bridge crossing Badgworthy Water.
Once I get to the top of Tom’s Hill the bridge makes itself known. In the far distance I spot another cadet party. This one seems a little more assured than the one I encountered the previous day.
I cross the stream and start hand-railing it Northward. The foliage nearby is loaded down with berries. I’m guessing that these ones are poisonous, though to be honest I don’t have a clue! I really should learn more about the local flora and fauna in the Uk.
As I move North the hills are transforming from being fern covered to being heather covered. Heather in the summer really adds a dash of colour to proceedings!
Eventually I get to another stream crossing. This one has a plank bridge which is just visible toward the centre left of the picture. Apparently this was a site of an old medieval settlement.
Once across the stream it’s a simple case of follow-the-trail. However, I’m conscious that I will need to break left at the next turn off to make another stream crossing Southward. This crossing should put me in line with the valley between Hoccombe Hill and Badgworthy Hill.
Here I have found the turn off toward the stream. I can’t see the crossing point yet, but I do know that it is located somewhere in the tree-line up ahead.
Looks like I found the cadet’s camp spot…. *sigh*
It doesn’t take long to locate the crossing point!
As I proceed up the hill I find myself needing a ‘call of nature’. Once again I pride myself on making my latrines seamless with the surrounding ground. Can you spot the one above? The secret is to use a survival knife to cut the top layer of turf out in a rectangle, then use the spade to lever it up. When you’re done the turf is simply placed back in the hole!
The climb continues up the side of Hoccombe Hill. This trail should take me up between this hill and Badgworthy Hill in a Westerly direction.
As the trail opens up I run into some sleeping cows. I kind of felt sorry for disturbing them from their Sunday morning slumber.
As I proceed along Bagdworthy Hill I can see the depression to the next stream that I have to cross down to the South.
When I get to the brow of the Badgworthy Hill I can spot the crossing point. It seems that a bunch of cows have made it their home…
As I approach the gate the cows start to move off, but then they stop right on the track. Looks like I will be walking around them!
Once past the cows it is a short climb up toward Lanacombe.
I’m now headed Westward. The objective for this leg is simple. All I have to do is bump into the B3223 road! By this stage of the walk the trails had disappeared. This was the only part of the walk that broadly looked like Dartmoor, but even then, there are still substantial differences between the two moors.
The going starts to get tougher and wetter as I approach the road…
I soon get to the road. Rather than exit at this gate, I elect to follow the fence Southward to locate an easier way to the Exe Plain on the other side.
From my observations of Exe Plain it looks very boggy and wet. Given that I’m wearing the rather leaky Salomon Quest 4D GTX boots I decide to modify the route to avoid the boggy areas…
The original plan was to cut right across the Exe Plain. However, the new plan involves heading Southward and climbing the hill up ahead on the other side of the road. If my map is correct I will run right into the ‘Two Moors Way’ trail which runs along its top. The hill should hopefully be a lot drier than having to negotiate the bogs on the other side of the road!
Unfortunately for me, the rather friendly fence line to my right has just taken a turn toward being a little less welcoming by sporting barbed wire. I’m hoping there will be a gate up ahead…
With some relief I spot a gate. I decide to get myself onto the road so as to avoid being trapped on this side by man made barriers.
On the other side of the road I spot a gate with these signs. These vindicate my earlier visual observations of the bogs and the subsequent decision to re-route this part of the walk.
I’m now hiking Southward down the B3223. The aim here is to get to the base of the hill up ahead and then climb it.
I get to the hill and find this unmarked trail leading up it. I do wish Ordnance Survey would update the trails on their maps…
On with the final climb! Once up there I should bump into the Two-Moors trail which should make for an easy walk.
Right on cue I find the main trail. The rest of this part of the walk should be quite easy. It is now a case of following the Two-Moors trail Northward until it merges to become the Tarka Trail.
I soon get to a gate. The main part of this trail continues straight ahead and indeed, I see may people on it. However, I know from my map that I will need to turn off through the gate.
I’m now on the Tarka Trail headed Northward. The rest of today’s walk will be broadly Northward as I attempt to get to the North Coast.
I soon find myself going down the Chains Valley. This should take me to the fording point of Hoaroak Water – a perfect place to top up water supplies!
This is shot of the trail leading down to the water crossing.
Here we are at Hoaroak Water! I top up water supplies as planned and snack out for a bit before proceeding Northward up the trail.
The trail Northward handrails Hoaroak Water and is well defined thus making navigation simple. The objective for this leg is to keep walking until I get to a boundary wall/fence and then hang a right to cross the stream.
It is quite scenic down here. I note that there are many places to camp on the other side of the stream and take a mental note of this for any potential future walks in this area.
Up ahead I spot the boundary that I was looking out for. There should be a trail breaking off to the right down toward the stream, though alas, I can’t see it yet…
However, once at the boundary, the right turn makes itself known. I decide that given my dodgy coordination and leaky boots, that I would take them off and do a straight forward ford of the stream.
I get across the other side but have to stop to get the towel out to dry my feet. Given that the rucksack is now off my back, I deicide that this would be a perfect opportunity to have a late lunch of Thai Soup, Oatcakes and Cheese spread!
Once I have had lunch I then proceed Northward. The trail is not too well defined here, but I know I need to get up to the top of the ridge line and keep heading Northward until I make it to Cheriton. It was here that I helped out two Dutch people with their navigation. Their only map was a simplified one in a holiday guide. As a result, they were a little unsure as to how to get to Cheriton, but I soon point them in the right direction! 🙂
The hill picks up more ferns. This has the side effect of adding some definition to the trail.
*Zoom On* to the West across the stream I spot some beehives. I wonder if the owners are having any luck with them, as apparently the bee population has been in a sharp decline over recent years.
As I get to the top of Cheriton Ridge the scenery starts to open out. I know that up ahead the field boundaries will start to funnel me in to the exit toward Cheriton.
Right on cue I get funnelled toward the exit!
I’m now on the trail Northward which should open up onto a road that ultimately goes to Cheriton. Once on the road my plan is to hang a left there!
As I proceed down the track I spot this rather forlorn horse up above watching me go by.
I get to the road and hang a left as planned. The left turning takes me past a farm and then down this track which should descend toward Hoaroak Water.
I cross the bridge at the bottom and make my way to a trail in Combe Park Wood. I spot a bench here and decide to take advantage of it to eat some snacks!
As I proceed Northward through the wood I am confronted with many stunning properties!
This one even has it’s own Stag Sculpture! I’m not sure why they chose a stag as this area isn’t really renown for them.
Eeek! People!!! Eventually the trail takes me out of the wood to a carpark and then onto the A39 Road!
I cross the A39 and proceed up the hill to locate the next track I need to follow. This track will take me Northward through Mytrleberry Cleave and ultimately to a place called Watersmeet.
After following the track through the woods it soon opens out into this enclosed field area. Apparently this whole area was the location of an Iron Age Village. The boundaries are very obvious and I could quite imagine the people of years gone by going about their business in and around their Iron Age huts.
To the NorthWest I catch a glimpse of civilisation – in this case Lynmouth. Although the location of this Iron Age enclosure is very scenic, this part of the walk was spoilt by a swarm of large black flies that insisted on following me! Luckily they dispersed when I made it back into the woods on the other side. I guess they don’t like the shadow of the woods.
To the North I can see some really steep hills and cliffs – I know that I will have to climb that hill to get to the coast, so I start steeling myself up for it!
I’m now on the trail down toward Watersmeet. I can just make out the bridge that I need up ahead. I can also hear that there are a lot of people there too…
On crossing the bridge I get this great view up Hoaroak Water. I have now lost count the number of times that I have crossed this stream!
The Watersmeet National Trust guide!
Watersmeet seems to be a popular destination with many people here. I really feel out of place here with my big rucksack, map, compass and GPS. As a result I’m keen to pass through.
Here I’m looking back toward another bridge crossing Hoaroak Water. It’s construction intrigues me, though I suspect that it is a fake concrete bridge…
The trail I’m on starts heading upward. I now prepare myself for the inevitable climb!
The climb has started. It’s relatively steep in places, but I’m keeping rest stops to the bear minimum as once again I’m accosted by a swarm of large black flies. The flies made this part of the walk most unpleasant.
The trail soon opens up which resulted in higher wind speeds. Luckily for me this starts to disperse the flies. The climb should soon take me up onto the A39 road.
A quick selfie as I make my ascent Northward from Watersmeet! That’s my ‘concerned-about-the-flies’ expression 😛
I soon reach the A39. By this stage the flies had all but disappeared. I’m hoping that would be the last I would see of them, but they had other plans for me the following day…
After crossing the road I start my ascent up onto the cliff tops of the coast. This is a look-back toward the valley that I had climbed up. It looks a long way down below, but in reality it was only around a 200 mtr climb.
Wooot!!!! I made it to the coast! My prime objective for today!!!!
I now head Northward up the coast. The intent is to camp near Foreland Point Lighthouse, as in theory there should be a stream in that area. At this stage my two biggest concerns were finding water and finding a spot to camp.
My original plan called for me to follow the coastal path down below, but I notice that there is a trig point nearby – so who am I to resist? 🙂
I bag Butter Hill at 302 mtrs elevation. But when I get there, I notice that it has one of the oddest trig points that I have come across. There can’t be too many of these that have their own personal communications array!
I now proceed downhill toward Foreland Point. On the way down I find a large number of horses. The intent right now is to just bimble around the local area as it is still relatively early and I don’t want to make camp whilst there are a lot of people about.
I find it quite a refreshing change walking so near to the sea!
I get to the end of the upper section of Foreland Point, but there is not much to see. I was hoping to at least be able to eyeball the lighthouse from here, but there is no sign of it. I guess that it is too far below to be easily seen.
I get back to the main coastal path and start heading Eastward and downward. According to my map, there should be a stream at the bottom…
Down below on the right I see a small road bridge. I can now hear water trickling from that area! This is excellent news as gathering water is one of the pre-requisites for setting up camp.
I get to the water source but it is quite disappointing. It is very shallow, so I have to dig some of the stream-bed up as seen to the right of the picture to allow the water bottle to be filled up properly.
The next issue to hand was to find a suitable spot to pitch the tent. I knew that this was going to be tricky, but there is a fair bit of daylight left so I decide to explore the road leading to the lighthouse. At least if I don’t find anywhere suitable, I’ll get to see the famous lighthouse!
When I get to the end of the road I spot this piece of flat grass. But alas I can’t use it. It is too near the road and a quick peg test shows that the soil isn’t deep enough. So I’m going to need another plan…
This is the view down to the lighthouse whilst I pondered my options for making camp…
And this is the view Eastward down the bay. I would be following this coastline tomorrow on my way back toward Minehead.
In the end I find the solution to my pitching woes. I cross the fence line along the cliff edge and pitch my tent there! The soil is just deep enough and I have the fence between me and any potential motor vehicles that might find their way down here.
I’m now quite relieved. I have water to hand and a place for the night – both of which were in short supply!
The view from the tent on the cliff edge – my first sea view!
Tonight’s meal is a Chilli Con Carne courtesy of Mountain House. I love their freeze dried meals, but wish they would come out with more recipes!
It has started raining and the winds have picked up. I know my tent’s location is quite exposed, so I tie this guy line to the fence and I place rocks over each tent peg. The last thing I want is for my tent to be blown off the cliff edge in the middle of the night!
As the sun starts to go down, the lighthouse’s lamp becomes more prominent. In the middle of the night I wake up from the noise of the high winds so decide to pop outside. I found myself entranced by the multiple lighthouse beams sweeping across the sea. I had thought that these lighthouses only produced one beam, but in reality they produce several.
So ends Day 2.
I was quite happy as the day had gone to plan. However, the night would see in high blustery winds and a lot of rain. These would be portents for tomorrow’s weather…
That’s it for Day 2’s report, see you next week for Day 3 🙂