|Day 15 – April 20||Roadwater to Nether Stowey|
|Weather: Sunny||B&B: Merrywood B&B (£30)|
|Departed: 09:00 Arrived: 15:45||Walked: 4h 42m Rested: 1 hr 55m|
|Distance Today: 14.1 mi / 22.69 km||Total Distance: 238.2 mi / 383.85 km|
|% Complete: ~ 20.99%||Pint of the Day: Cottage Brewery Co. Ex-Mayor Ale|
|GPS Track for: Day 15|
Away at 9am today under mostly cloudy skies and I began by taking advantage of the fact that I was already 1/2 mile out of Roadwater. I followed a dirt track behind Wood Advent Farm for about a mile until I linked up again with the Coleridge Way.
The walk to the tiny village of Monksilver was almost perfect. It spent much of its time skirting the edge of a woodland and provided some good views of the coast to the north. I say almost perfect because the last few hundred meters was practically impassable. The dirt track ran between two 10 to 12-foot hedges and become progressively wetter and was before long a complete mess. To make matters worse a stream emptied directly onto the footpath. To top it all of was the fact that some of the hedges had been cut and the cuttings were blocking parts of the path. Back home we call this a ditch rather than a footpath. There were two obvious options:
1. Plow straight through the middle of it and sink into mud up to your calves.
2. Back-track and find an alternate route.
I chose neither and employed a Canadian solution: blazing my own trail out of the harsh wilderness while reciting a selection of poetic profanity that would have Samuel Taylor Coleridge turning in his grave. For a good 20 minutes I scaled the sides of each hedge, removing dead wood and some not-so-dead wood as I went. I’m tempted to send Somerset County Council a bill for my tree-pruning services (along with a copy of my poetry).
I eventually emerged from the footpath / ditch (or what’s left of it) in a foul mood but was quickly brought back to my ‘quiet place’ by the tranquil surroundings of Monksilver. I met up with the walker from the Netherlands who had taken a different but less adventurous route from Wood Advent Farm.
On leaving Monksilver I also left Exmoor National Park and entered a small valley that sat between the Brendon Hills and the Quantock Hills. The walk to Bicknoller was uneventful and I found myself standing at the bar of the Bicknoller Inn at 11:55am. I had to make up for my disappointing performance yesterday by being the first customer today.
I had a nice chat with a local who grew up in Bicknoller and had spent many happy days exploring the impressive Quantock Hills. At 12:30pm I began the climb up Bicknoller Combe, the trail that slices its way through and up the western edge of the Quantocks. The steep sides of the valley were covered in ewes and their lambs, including a black and white pair that didn’t scamper until the very last minute.
When I reached the summit I found a selection of tracks going in all different directions and some stunning views. The fact that I missed Dunkery Beacon yesterday is moot now as I can’t see how these views of the coastline of both England and Wales could be beat. My new destination of Nether Stowey meant that I would be crossing the Quantocks from west to east rather than north to south, a process that took just over two hours. I emerged in the little village of Holford and took a brief break on a bench outside the Anglican church (Tip: need a bench … look for a church).
The walk to Nether Stowey took less than an hour and I was in my B&B before 4pm. I have a massive room with all the mod-cons, in fact I have three single beds to choose from. Nether Stowey is a large village with a library, several shops and at least three pubs.
I have another 14-15 mile day tomorrow which my blisters are thankful for. I’ll be staying in Bridgwater but will be walking a few miles beyond it and then busing back in order to reduce the next day’s walk to Cheddar.