Day 4’s short 7.3 km route with 120 mtrs of ascent and 365 mtrs of descent.
Day 4 was a spare day with only around 7 km to do.
Public transport in Minehead is very frequent, this combined with the relatively short distance to Bristol meant that I was in no real rush to get back.
As such, when it got foggy, I decided to revel in it and try to wing my way back to Minehead. I figured that I was more likely to see and experience interesting things if I did this.
The result of this decision was that I spent around 3 km in the fog without ever really knowing precisely where I was. I found the whole experience quite liberating – it was nice not having to be a slave to the map. I could have quite easily cheated and used the GPS, but I was having way too much fun! 🙂
Anyways, I’ll let the pictures tell the story of the last day:
The night had been relatively uneventful, though I did get woken up by what sounded like a slow moving Land Rover driving past my tent. I knew the tent was well out of the way of the track, but I was still concerned that it could be in the way. However, it drove by without incident. On getting up, I start the day in the same way as with the other days, I kick the morning into touch with a bowl of with Muesli.
The view out of the tent. I didn’t really get to see much of this on the previous day as the tent had to be closed down due to the swarm of flies that had been following me.
Once I had eaten breakfast, I pack everything up and leave the ground exactly how I found it.
It’s now a case of heading East for the final short walk into Minehead.
I was somewhat relieved that today seems to be fly-less. This makes for a much more enjoyable walk.
The going is relatively easy. It’s just a case of follow-that-trail!
After I exit this field I take a wrong turn. The weird thing is that I knew I had done it as I did it, but never the less decided to carry on. I think I was of the view that if I keep heading East and keep the coast to my left I would have no choice but to bump into Minehead! Yes I know, my attitude to navigation can be a little slack sometimes!
As I head East the track starts becoming a little less defined. The visibility also starts to close down too.
At this point I didn’t know exactly where I was and wasn’t too keen to find out. I was revelling in being locationally challenged. I knew broadly which direction to head in and that’s all that mattered. Public transport from Minehead was so frequent and the journey to Bristol so short, that I didn’t mind heading off piste as it were!
Soon the fog really closes down. Visibility is now down to 5 metres or so – some of the foggiest conditions that I have walked in. Here I’m by the coast, but soon the going would get pretty hard, so I decide to turn back and get onto the main trail.
The fog laden adventure! I don’t know if it was because I wanted to spice things up, but I really enjoyed free-wheeling in the fog. I had hoped to follow the coast around to Minehead, but it soon becomes evident that this would not be practical, so I grab the compass and put myself on an intercept course with the main East-West trail.
The trail I was on petered out very close to the coast. Rather than bushwack my way through, I decide to to head South East. Although I didn’t know where I was, I would be guaranteed of running into a main trail and if that failed I would end up on a road – that would be very hard to miss! Once there I could work out what to do next.
The route to the South East looks well trodden – which is always a good sign 🙂
Bingo – I run straight into the main trail and as an added bonus it is sign posted too! Just need to hang a left here!
Even though the trail is sign posted I still perform a quick compass check to make sure its headed the right way. I have been known to get to a T-Junction and take a wrong turning, especially if I’m approaching it from the North….
As I head Eastward the fog gets even worse…
On my fog laden journey I encounter these horses enjoying the grasses of the moor.
The track is still continuing Eastward which is good enough for me. I know that I should be encountering a forest boundary at some point as it stretches from the coast to the road.
Right on cue I spot the forest boundary!
The walk through the wood is very pleasant. Again, I don’t know precisely where I am, however, the current plan is to relocate myself once I leave the Eastward boundary of the wood.
The trail starts to close down a little, but it is still headed Eastward, which is good enough for me!
Finally I get to see what I think is the Eastern boundary of the wood. I’m quite curious to see where I will come out!
However, as I go through the gate it becomes evident that I have a little further to go before I reach the true boundary. The fog and the interplay of the light makes for a memorable walk, despite not being able to see much.
The trees soon thin out. Based on what I can see – a field to the left with a wooded boundary and to my right a boundary wall I now have enough clues to work out my precise position. So ends my free-wheeling jaunt!
As I head down the field the sunlight partially breaks through the cloud in random places which makes for a spectacular and ever changing light show!
To my right I get the first glimpse of my destination – Minehead. Nearly there!
I soon get to the final field and actually get to see someone! The lady in question seems to be training her two sheep dogs.
It’s now a case of following this trail until I get to the road. As I know where I am, I plot a course on the map that should result in me intercepting the original route in Minehead. This is important as Minehead is relatively large and potentially an easy place to lose oneself in. By going back to the planned route I would be navigating on streets that I had used Google Street view to practice with. This would ensure that I would stay on track. Luckily for me there is a landmark at the intercept point – a church – this should make locating it very straight forward.
Here’s the road! I know I need to hang a right here, then follow the road until I get to a T-Junction where I will need to hang a left. I have always said in the past that using OS maps for street navigation can be quite difficult, but on this day I was finding it surprisingly easy.
Woot!!! I soon have eyes on the church! I will soon be back on plan. From that point on I will simply be able to follow the route that I had practiced on Google Maps.
I’m now following the familiar practiced route. Getting to where I need to go is now a certainty. The only worry now is working out where the bus stop is!
Up ahead I can see the buildings that mark the entry point to the main street of the city centre – the objective for today’s walk.
Right on cue the main street of the City Centre pops into view. I now need to wander around a little to locate the bus stop that I need.
Minehead – the end of my walk. Finding the bus stop proves to be trivially easy. Fortune was smiling on me too as the bus arrived within ten minutes of getting there! Perfect!
So ends my first Exmoor walk.
It was an interesting walk, but I’m not sure that I would ever do it again. The terrain and proximity of human habitation combine to make it an ill-suited place for multi-day wild camping.
It does have one advantage, in that it is relatively near to where I live, so I could always pop into the area for a short day walk without much notice.
However, my mind is now firmly fixed on the next walk which will be in Scotland’s Cairngorms again. Unlike the previous one, I will be travelling right across its expanse from Blair Atholl in the South to Aviemore in the North.
I can’t wait!
I’m really looking forward to some real wilderness time and if I have half as much fun as I had on my last visit it will be a truly enjoyable walk!