Walking from John O'Groats to Land's End in the winter of 07/08.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Bridgwater to Roadwater

Through persistent drizzle I've walked all day to end up further north than where I started. Although this might sound like a step backwards on a John O'Groats to Land's End journey, west is the new south.

I left Bridgwater on tarmac; tightly packed council houses slowly decaying into a country lane as I wandered past. After getting very confused in a farmyard where four paths meet, I eventually managed to cross a few soggy fields to rejoin the roads and pass through some lovely little villages. It required a long climb to enter the Quantock Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty, but it was worth it to return to a landscape of grassy slopes, tumbling brooks, open heathland and large pine woods after the flatlands that have been dampening my spirits over the last few days.

Fine misty rain was being blown in on a fresh breeze as I escaped onto footpaths, my natural habitat. The miles flew by; dropping into a muddy farmyard, descending a small valley to cross a tiny stream, climbing steep fields to ever greater heights, ambling along tracks through woodland and finally emerging onto open moorland on the main ridge. Up there visibility was a matter of metres, although what I could see seemed suitably wild and there were plenty of people following the crest to the highest part of this range of hills. Far too soon, it was time to stop heading towards the Bristol Channel and tumble down a bracken filled gully.

The rest of the day mainly followed roads, but there were some little shortcuts, such as the delightful path along a babbling brook at Crowcombe Bridge or the old lane being reclaimed by prickly vegetation. The route linked a number of wonderfully named villages nestled in the low hills; the Roald Dahl-esque Stogumber, the potential treasure trove of Monksilver and finally Roadwater.

I have now entered Exmoor national park and it feels like the final straight. Only fantastic walking, across high moorland and along dramatic cliffs, remains.

No comments: