|Day 14 – April 19||Simonsbath to Roadwater|
|Weather: Sunny||B&B: Wood Advent Farm (£35)|
|Departed: 09:15 Arrived: 17:55||Walked: 7h 17m Rested: 1 hr 27m|
|Distance Today: 21.7 mi / 34.92 km||Total Distance: 224.1 mi / 360.65 km|
|% Complete: ~ 19.99%||Pint of the Day: none!|
|GPS Track for: Day 14|
It’s the end of day 14 and I find myself just outside Roadwater, a small village at the eastern edge of Exmoor National Park. I knew this was going to be a long day and indeed it clocked in at almost 22 miles. With the possible exception of Friday, today should be the last 20+ until early May.
I didn’t get away from the Exmoor Forest Inn as early as I hoped but I have to say they serve one of the best non-English breakfasts ever. Of course the “Full English” is on offer but I needed a break from eggs and bacon and enjoyed fresh fruit salad, yoghurt, cereal, juice, coffee and a hot danish right out of the oven. I’m giving the Exmoor Forest Inn two serious thumbs up for their fantastic food and value-priced accommodation (book online to get the best price).
For the first few hours of the walk I headed north and then east towards Dunkery Beacon. This involved a steep climb out of Simonsbath and then a very steep descent to Warren’s Bridge where I found a man relieving himself at the side of road (Tip #1: before you whiz in public look UP as well as to both sides). Once past Warren’s Farm I followed the Macmillan Way West over open moorland. I have to say that compared to the SWCP the signage is very poor on the MWW. I spent a lot of time consulting my maps and GPS and can’t help but think this could have been a lot easier had they used arrows on their signposts rather than blotches of blue paint. There were several times where I had to rely on gut instinct to choose the right path and most of the time I guessed right. Unfortunately the one time I didn’t cost me half a mile of unnecessary walking. I recovered this time by making the decision not to climb Dunkery Beacon. Although it was a clear day the visibility was poor and there would be no spectacular views today.
I only took my pack off once today and that was at the small car park at the foot of Dunkery Beacon. I took advantage of the fact that I had mobile reception (Tip #2: there is none in Simonsbath or Roadwater) to sort out accommodation for Wednesday and Thursday nights. I was having a difficult time finding a B&B in Cheddar and ended up booking into a hotel instead.
The second half of the walk was spent traversing the Brendon Hills and as the name suggests there is quite a bit of up and down. Fairly early on I linked up with the Coleridge Way and the signage improved substantially although still not up to the standard set by the SWCP. The CW weaved its way through woodlands and through a lot of enclosed pastures. There were some sections of open hillside and even a pine forest that reminded me of home. For the most part the CW skirted the edges of villages and my timeline was such that I couldn’t afford to stop in any of them.
Roadwater is an attractive little village which I passed through on the way to Wood Advent Farm. If I had studied my map more closely I would have noticed that my B&B is at least ½ mile outside of the village and almost all of the walk was uphill. I was kicking myself for not having noticed this before but to be honest there is so much to do to keep this walk going that mistakes like this are going to happen (that and there is very little accommodation in Roadwater). Basically when you’re not walking you are busy preparing for the next day’s walk.
This is the first B&B I’ve stayed at that didn’t have a shower and although I prefer a shower I must admit my aching bones enjoyed the bath. The added bonus was that I could kill two birds with one stone by washing my walking clothes at the same time! Tip #3: your hiking socks make a great luffa!
I hadn’t eaten lunch so I was famished but didn’t relish the prospect of going down to Roadwater and climbing that hill a second time. Strangely enough the proprietors assumed I wanted to have supper at the B&B and had already prepared a meal for myself and one other guest. They’re obviously used to walkers because they knew what I needed before I did.
I enjoyed a 3-course meal (pricey at £20) and also the company of another walker from the Netherlands who is doing LEJOG in stages over several years. We had lots to talk about so it was a very enjoyable evening … I even scored a pair of COMPEED blister plasters! I had used the last of the ones I brought from Canada (which are crap by the way) and was dreaming about getting my hands on some of these magic plasters. I assumed I wouldn’t find a chemist until Bridgwater and so I’m very grateful for the ones I received tonight.