Day 3’s walk of 27.4 km with 1104 mtrs of ascent and 917 mtrs of descent. The circular part to the right is discussed in more detail later 🙂 (Click for a larger version)
Day 3 was primarily a coastal walk Eastward. The objective was to place me within 7 km of Minehead ready for the following day’s departure by public transport.
For the most part the going was quite easy, which resulted in a relatively fast pace over the 27.4 km – one of the longest distances I have walked for quite a while.
It rained most of the day and despite being wet I was quite comfortable. The kit even managed to dry out quickly once I made camp.
Making camp was always my biggest worry, as I needed to be in an out-of-the-way place and I would need access to fresh water – both of which would be in short supply in this area.
By far the biggest memory of this day wasn’t the views or the walk, but the swarms of large flies that continually accosted me. There are some photographs of these creatures near the end of this blog entry when they decided to make my tent their home…
Having swarms of flies circling one’s head really spoils the enjoyment of the walk and can even impair the decision making process. For me personally, they were bad enough that I’m very unlikely to revisit this part of the world again.
Anyways, I’ll let the pictures tell the story of day 3…
I awake on the morning of Day 3 to the sounds of rain on the tent!
What always continues to amaze me about tents, is just how much worse they can make the rain seem. From inside it sounds like a torrential downpour, but when you unzip the tent and look outside, it’s just a mere drizzle!
As usual, I eat a good breakfast to start the day. This breakfast consists of fruit muesli, a scone, a wheel of cheese and some coffee! Perfect!
I pack up the tent and once more leave the ground as I found it.
I now start to the hike Eastward toward Coddow Combe.
Up ahead on the right is the bridge marking the location of a small streamlet. This is where I filled up last night. My main bottle is still full and I have some water left in one of my collapsable bottles. I know that I will run into numerous water supplies today, so elect to keep going.
I’m finding the view of the sea to be a bit of a novelty. But I do find this part of the walk relatively boring as navigationally there isn’t much to do – just follow that coast!
The trail soon starts to thin out. It is here that the flies that had been bugging me the previous day had started to make an appearance again. As they circle my head I wonder what it is that they are actually after? Do large flies drink blood?
As I head into Chubhill Wood the flies seem to disappear. I’m guessing they dislike the lower lighting levels? Maybe it’s because woods have a higher incidence of spiders and their webs? Either way I’m thankful that they have disappeared.
The sign up ahead marks the end of the Glenthorne Cliffs which indicates that I’m making good progress!
Still headed Eastward and once again the flies are back!
Despite the annoying flies the views are actually pretty good. I was hoping the light rain would keep the flies at bay, but alas it doesn’t seem to make any difference.
Occasionally the track takes me into dark areas like this. When I enter these areas, the flies choose not to follow. It is in these places that I can rest up and snack out without having my own personal air show!
However, much of this part of the walk is out in the open. I know that at some point I will be entering the main part of Culbone Wood. Once there I should be safe from the flies.
As I pass through the wood I run into the odd isolated house. The track seems to run right through these house’s properties. This is the view back to the gates of Glenthorne estate. I just loved the sculptures on top of the gates!
At one point I had to turn off to follow this track. At first I thought I had taken a wrong turning as the track had all but disappeared in the ferns. However, this is indeed the correct route. The downside to having to bushwhack through this type of terrain is that one can get very wet when it’s raining.
My persistence pays off with the track eventually opening out onto this wooded section.
With tracks like this I found my progress was very swift. Working out exactly where I am is relatively difficult in the woods as there isn’t much too see. As a result I occasionally check the GPS to get my longitude so that I can work out how far down the coastal path I am.
Water isn’t an issue on the coastal path. Nearly every coastal inlet has a stream like this that crosses the path. So obtaining water is a breeze!
For a coastal track, I’m finding that I’m not getting to see as much sea as I thought I would. Much of the track is now within the Culbone Wood which limits ones views. Occasionally there are breaks in the wood’s coverage that allow one to get glimpses of the sea down below.
Another water source on the way through the wood! Despite the rain, I’m enjoying this part of the walk as the flies have long since departed.
One feature of the track through Culbone Wood is that many parts of it has subsided resulting in parts of the track being fenced off like this.
Luckily alternate tracks have been put in place – normally in the form of steps like these to take one around the subsidence.
Occasionally I have to contend with the odd fallen tree too! I’m guessing the winds can get pretty severe here given its coastal exposure.
It has been raining pretty much the whole day. As expected the RAB eVent Bergen wetted out in a matter of 30 mins or so. However, my base layer doesn’t hold onto water – it tends to repel it. So although I am soaked, I don’t feel like I’m being weighed down by wet clothing. Being wet isn’t really the issue. By far the biggest issue is whether or not you are cold. In my case I felt just right and was on the whole pretty comfortable!
As I pass through Culbone Wood I come across this very isolated community. It’s marked on the map as Culbone Church, but it also has one or two residences nearby. The church also has it’s own small graveyard, so I’m guessing that generations of one family have lived and died here.
This is a look back at one of the residences of Culbone Wood. I imagine that the people that live here have quite a different lifestyle from the rest of us!
I’m still headed Eastward. The next objective is to exit the wood and get to Porlock Weir – a village by a beach!
However I soon run into another landslip. This one worried me a little as the track to get around it headed Westward for quite some time – the opposite direction from where I wanted to go!
As I approach Toll Worthy I run into some tunnels which are marked on the map. This is a good sign I’m headed back to civilisation!
I soon run into one of the outlying buildings of Toll Worthy. I need to go through the gate up ahead which should get me onto the road to take me to Porlock Weir.
I follow the road for s short while then divert off onto a track. It’s now a case of following this track until I get to Porlock Weir.
As the terrain opens up I start to get views back onto the sea. Up ahead in the near distance is Porlock Weir. In the far distance is Bossington Hill – the hill that I spotted on Day 1 which I knew I would be climbing on this day.
It almost felt like I was trespassing here as the track takes you through people’s back yards. There are track signs here, so I am in the right place, but it does feel rather odd.
I’m now at the car park of Porlock Weir. There are a lot of people here despite the weather. Once again I feel a little out of place with all my hiking kit on!
It’s now a short trek down the B3225 road before I have to hang a left onto the coastal path.
Here’s the turn off. I’m not looking forward to this bit of the walk as it will be on a shingle beach.
I try and keep close to the land where the pebbles are a lot larger. This helps make the forward progress a little easier.
I soon come across this rather odd sign. It makes it very clear that it doesn’t want people to follow the beach at this point and that it wants them to go inland. I’m not sure why this is, but elect to follow it’s instructions. Perhaps the sign is there to keep people away from potentially dangerous tides?
The walk inland is a relatively easy one. I’m enjoying the open spaces as much of the earlier part of the walk had been in the confines of Culbone Wood. At least I can now see something other than trees now!
This part of the walk should take me to the village of Bossington. From there I will start my climb of Bossington Hill at 243 mtrs elevation.
As I head Eastward I run into this old War Memorial.
The pigeon in this photo was acting rather oddly. It wasn’t injured, yet it didn’t fly away.
Up ahead through the rain is Bossington Hill. I know that the end of today’s walk is within 2km of the top of that hill. Given the time of day, I have plenty of time in hand, so I start to relax.
I get to a track which will take me through Bossington Village. To the right of the track is a small stream that I use to top up my water.
Bossington Village is very quaint – a typical English Village!
I have now passed through the village and have started heading up to the base of Hurlstone Combe where I intend to climb up Bossington Hill.
It doesn’t take long to get to the base of Hurlstone Combe. Up ahead is a female hiker with a very large load. We conversed for a few minutes before we parted ways. Apparently she was on a 28 day coastal walk – hence the size of her pack. I wish I could go on a 28 day walk – but alas I could never get that kind of time off. Her journey had only pretty much begun and she mentioned that it was a trial by fire given today’s weather! Hopefully the rest of her journey has seen better weather!
As I ascend Bossington Hill I take this photo of the coastline to the West.
The rain starts to ease off, but much to my disappointment, the flies are back! It seems that I can’t get away from the pesky blighters.
A quick look back down the hill. Although Bossington Hill’s elevation is relatively low at 243 mtrs, the ascent is pretty steep in places…
I’m nearly at the top where the winds have picked up. This forces the flies to break off their pursuit!
The next stage of the walk is to get to the top of Selworthy Beacon at 308 mtrs elevation.
For the first time today I’m starting to see some blue skies. It looks like the weather is finally starting to clear, resulting in some fleeting views down below.
I make it to the trig point on Selworthy Beacon at 308 mtrs elevation. I can’t believe those hiking boots have been on the trig point since 1995. I’m guessing that this marked the end of their walk, either that or they didn’t like their boots!
Selworthy Beacon! This marks the highest point that I will be reaching today.
I’m now heading Eastward to intercept a road. According to my map at the point of intersection is a stream. These are far and few in this area, which means that I have to locate it so that I can top up all my bottles read for camp.
Once I reach the road I try heading cross country to get at the stream head, but the going is exceedingly difficult and prickly thanks to the gorse. In the end I decide to head back to the road and take some tracks directly to Selworthy Combe. This would put me at the other end of this stream. The original plan had called for me to camp in the woods of Selworthy Combe anyways, so this made perfect sense.
A close up of my diversion to get water. Basically the above walk was conducted in a clockwise direction. On topping up water at the spring to the South I was accosted by many swarming flies. In my desperation to get out of there I end up heading Westward rather than the way I came. My final camp-spot for day 3 can be seen top right.
On my way downhill to Selworthy Combe. I was looking forward to making camp after a long day of walking.
However, as I descend, the flies are back with a vengeance. They now seem more numerous and more persistent. It’s making this part of the journey most unpleasant.
Even entering the woods seem to make no difference. The flies were stuck to me like glue
I soon find the other end of the stream and top up my bottles. Trying to do this with flies circling around one’s head is quite difficult.
I decide that I cannot camp at Selworthy Combe as originally planned, the flies are just making things impossible. In my rush to try and get away from them I end up heading up the hill in a Westward direction rather than Eastward as planned…
I soon reach the road, but my swarming companions are still with me. After a short walk down this road I double back and take the track directly up to Selworthy Beacon. I know that it is relatively windy up there, so that should get rid of the flies.
With the weather settling down I’m starting to get some great views of the surrounding country side. However, rather than stopping and taking it all in, I’m compelled to keep on moving to try and get away from the flies.
I soon make it back to Selworthy Beacon where there are a few horse riders. Some of the flies are still with me, but they are much reduced. Looks like my plan of getting them into the wind was working!
After looking at my map I decide that I will make camp to the North which should keep me away from the main track in and around the trig point.
It’s just a case of following this road/track Eastward then hanging a left to turn Northward. By now, the flies seemed to have disappeared – something that I was very thankful for.
I’m now headed Northward. Up ahead is a T-Junction where this track meets the South West Coast Path. My intent is to hang a left and scout down that track looking for a suitable place to camp.
There’s the left turn that I have decided to follow. With hindsight, I should have hung a right and gone East as I had found much better pitching spots there the following day…
I find what looks like the only suitable place for miles around so decide to take advantage of it. I’m now quite relaxed as I have water, shelter and no flies!
However, my relaxation is short lived. It seems that the swarming flies have caught up with me, which results in the tent having to be closed down. However, they soon breach the outer tent so I take off my boots and just relax in the zipped up inner tent. With the sun coming out the tent is quite warm which promotes an early evening nap – even with the noise of the swarming flies between the inner and outer tent. I’m hoping that the flies will either give up or run out of energy by the time I wake up. It’s at times like this that I’m glad I have a proper tent rather than a tarp.
I awake and notice that the noise of the buzzing flies had all but subsided. However, when I open the inner mesh up I can see many of them crawling around the outer tent. I’m guessing that their energy reserves are low as they are not bothering me.
Many of them had elected to stop off on the main tent beam. I was quite shocked at their numbers when I took a look – there are over 16 of them in this photo alone.
Looking down the side of the tent i can see even more of them! I don’t think I have ever seen so many flies in one place. It seems that their attempts to get at me in the inner tent over the previous few hours had reduced their energy reserves to a point where they weren’t really interested in flying and hassling me.
I decide to open up the outer tent to give the flies an easy exit out. Whilst the outer tent is open I rustle up the traditional last meal of the walk – a Chicken Curry!
It seems that my winged friends had taken the hint with many of them having departed by this stage. The sun will soon be below the horizon, so I now get the tent ready for bed.
That’s it for day 3. It’s a shame that I will forever remember this day for all the wrong reasons. In fact, I suspect that from here on in I will always associate flies with Exmoor, which probably does the place an injustice.
Tune in next week for the final day of my Exmoor walk!