Monday, 30 May 2011

Minehead to Porlock

Today was a shorter walk of 7 miles. Minehead to Porlock - the first section of the Southwest Coast Path. The first bus of the day didn't leave Porlock until late morning which is why I hadn't done this section yesterday. I didn't want to be hanging about all morning on my first day. This morning however, I was glad of the later start as it rained really heavily for most of the morning. By the time I was due to leave for the bus stop it was just a light drizzle and by the time I started walking it had stopped completely and ended up being a nice day. 

When I arrived in Minehead I called in Boots to buy some special tick tweezers in case any more ticks think I make a good lunch. Then I bought a cheese and broccoli Cornish pasty and wandered down to the seafront to eat it. I wasn't sure where the walk actually started so just walked along the seafront in the right direction. A huge bronze sculpture of a couple of hands holding a map open to show the path in it's entirety was a pretty big clue. That and big white writing on the pavement saying 'Southwest Coast Path' and an arrow. I was very impressed with the sculpture so stopped to take a few photos of it before starting the walk. 


The walk soon headed out of town and uphill into dense woodland. It was beautiful, but like yesterday, there were glimpses of the sea rather than a permanent view of it. There were plenty of grey squirrels and I stopped to watch a baby one playing in front of me seemingly without fear. The path zigzagged upwards until it flattened out onto moorland quite a way in from the sea. At one point I passed a sign pointing to a 'rugged alternative path' which seemed to go closer to the coast. The 'rugged' bit of the sign attracted me though I thought I should maybe avoid anything too rugged as my knees were still sore from yesterday and I knew I had some more descents to cope with before the end of my walk today. The clincher though, was the 'alternative' part of the sign. I didn't really want to do any 'alternatives' unless I had to. The alternative could be saved in case I ever did this walk again. 

 It was a good decision as the moorland walk was lovely with lots of wild flowers and big skies. I even got to see some Exmoor ponies. I only saw a couple of other people the whole time I was on the moor. Of course it had to drop down though and my knees were soon objecting. One bit in particular seemed very steep and I descended very sloooowly saying ouch with each step. As I got nearer the bottom there was a well-placed and welcome bench with a lovely view of the sea. I sat for a while and finished my flask of coffee. 

Then it was the final bit of descent before picking my way across farmland and marsh to the turnoff back up to Porlock. This bit wasn't very well sign-posted and if I hadn't have started my walk from here yesterday I would have missed it. So if walking here make sure you use your map!

The total descent (and climb) on this section is allegedly 698 metres. No wonder my knees hurt again.  

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