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

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Roadwater to Exford

Leaving Roadwater on a lane nestling alongside the River Washford was the only time I would be dry all day. The rain started as I used a forestry track to climb steeply out of the dale, with the usual soft mat of pine needles to cushion my feet. The trees sheltered me from the worst of the precipitation, although not from getting sweaty. Exposed to the elements when I emerged from the woods, the wind spat raindrops at me as I continued uphill, through grassy fields and then awkwardly alongside a flooded track.

I gained some respite in the form of a pleasant muddy path that followed a stream through woods, before I resumed upward progress and crossed the rounded summit plateau of Lype Hill. After I passed through the last remaining line of trees, the rain blasting past coated me in sheets of cold water; droplets ran down my face and soaked me from the inside out. There was no escape and I became increasing frustrated by the drenching. By the time I had battled the wind to reach the trig point I was shouting obscenities at the sky. After almost a thousand miles on the trail, I'm perhaps not the most mentally balanced person anymore.

Things improved slightly as I crossed a road and headed downhill, but it was still unpleasant to be cold and wet with plenty of miles still to go. As I reached Wheddon Cross I had to choose between a busy road or a path that takes in the highest point on Exmoor. I decided on the path, at least the scenery would be more interesting.

I followed the River Anvil though a wooded valley, crossing the few swollen tributaries easily thanks to my already sodden feet. A steep climb took me into the clouds and onwards to Dunkery Beacon at 519m. I followed tracks across the high moorland, meeting only school children forced outside on this wet and windy day by the Duke of Edinburgh. I was getting used to being damp as I descended into Exford, and my occasional bouts of shouting were peppered with phrases like "come on then", as well as the usual abuse. The weather gods had failed to defeat me today. Eventually finding my accommodation after a quick phone call, they luckily also had a stable so were used to filthy creatures who had been stomping around the moors all day. Hope the weather improves soon.

1 comment:

William said...

I walked the Wheddon Cross path a couple of Springs ago with my wife, in slightly better conditions whilst staying at a Bed and Breakfast Exmoor. Good perserverance! It's more of a challenge anyway!