And ‘Moor Walking!

It’s been a weekend of walking for me and we’ve had the weather for it as well. Saturday was glorious, walking (probably) 12 miles in Bath. I was planning to have a rest on Sunday, which could’ve given me two days in the workshop, as I had also booked today off work. But, the same friend I saw on Saturday convinced me to join the group walk she was leading down in Exmoor. It was fifteen-miles long; it look hilly; it was what they regard as a 3-Booter and, when I woke up in the morning, the sun was shining.

Horses on Exmoor

Before I go on, I’d like to point out that each of the photos taken from this walk were captured using my smart phone. I did carry a camera in my bag but getting it out each time or even carrying on myself does get annoying. I am impressed with the quality, if not the quantity of what I have.

This walk began in Carhampton, next to the tiny village of Blue Anchor [careful how you say it!] near Minehead in West Somerset. I live in North Somerset (a good few miles south of Bristol) and decided that I would drive there alone, where the rest of the walkers would all meet up and arrange to car-share from the centre of Bristol. I was the first to arrive at the unspecified farmer’s yard where we were instructed to park. I saw one woman there without a car (who did turn out to be the joint-walk leader) and assumed she was from the farm. I didn’t feel confident enough to park on someone else’s property and so, completed a lap down to Blue Anchor and back, by which time the first car from Bristol arrived and I pulled up alongside. Panic over! 🙂

Conygar Tower – Dunster, Somerset

We set off uphill and on to the hills of Exmoor. We started with a good long climb towards woodland, down one hill, up and another and in to more woods before we found a resting spot with tree stumps for seating. It was probably a good two hours or more before I took my first photo, which you can see at the top of this post. There were at least two, if not three, more climbs before we stopped properly for lunch on one of the highest points, with views towards the sea and the south of Wales.

Conygar Tower, taken with my smart phone camera.

From here on, it was mostly a downhill walk. It is a welcome feeling when you stop for lunch knowing that the hardest part is over. That feeling that you can literally stuff yourself full for the ‘casual’ return circuit to the “car park”. Well, there was one brief climb up from Dunster to Conygar Tower but that was nothing compared to the heights we had already conquered. I understand that not all 3 Boot walks with this group are as easy; particularly the ones over in Wales.

Dunster Castle, from Conygar Tower

Before climbing to the folly tower (which is free to enter with no restrictions on access), we passed through the village of Dunster (where a St.George’s Day parade was ongoing, 48 hours early) and right by Dunster Castle, which was sadly, one of several properties not open to visitors looking to take advantage of the National Trust’s annual free weekend. So, after a brief toilet break and tea stop, we kept on going.

Dunster, with the castle in the background; fellow ramblers in the fore.

I enjoyed this walk for several reasons. In fact, I also enjoyed the easy drive down the M5 for only a short distance, before getting off at Junction 23 (Bridgwater) and following the A39 west through surrounding hills, combes and countryside, before making a single right-turn on the road leading to our start point. My good friend was also there and I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of other familiar faces, including one who I met on a walk back in February that went so horribly wrong that no-one has seen the leader of that day night since. I struggle to often to make basic conversation with the majority of people I’ve met on these walks and that can make the experiences less enjoyable. It is nice to have people who I consider to be friends in and amongst this group.

Reaching the beach in Carhampton (I think), Somerset.

Leaving Dunster, we continued south across the track of an old steam train and down towards the coast, where we would follow a pebbled beach before crossing fields on our return to Carhamapton (seriously, that is its name – it just sounds so apt). On my return, I got as far as Bridgewater and decided to follow the A38 north until I was close to home. Much like when I’m walking; I hate back-tracking over the same routes when I’m driving and motorway driving offers little appeal, unless I’m in a hurry to get somewhere. I also enjoy heading south down the M5 in any occasion, where you’re surrounded by mile-upon-mile of countryside. I’ve never had the same experience heading north, where it’s all so industrialised.

Church and a blossoming tree (and walkers) in Carhampton, Somerset.

When I got home on Saturday, I felt so tired that I had to lie down for a few hours and I had little intention of doing the walk across Exmoor yesterday. We barely saw a drop of rain and, by the time I arrived home, I was a little weary but still stable on my feet. Even this morning and in spite of the fact that I’ve been awake since 3.45am; it’s like I’ve just had an average weekend plus an extra day off. It did start to catch up with me at lunchtime today and I’m fearing it might hit me again tomorrow morning when I arrive at work for 7am.

Perhaps the moral is that it’s better to push through the pain sometimes, instead of spending the day lying in bed? Hmmmm, that doesn’t sound very profound… But I am planning to lead a group walk for the very first time next month! There are a few details to sort out but it’ll be around Bath, just like on Saturday with my good friend.

Thanks for reading. 🙂


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