Monday, 16 May 2011
I would walk Five Hundred Miles. And a bit more.
Day One - Ashcott - Minehead - Porlock Weir. Thursday 12th May
Set off early this morning when mum and dad drove me up to Minehead. They bought me a breakfast from a little place on the seafront (nowt better than an Omelette to keep you going) and I set off from the coast path marker there. The walk from Minehead began at a punishing pace - zig zagged up towards North hill and I climbed at an astonishing rate, through some pretty little woods which were scenic but didn't help with the heat.
Soon enough, (a little forebodingly) I was lost, all within about an hour and a half of setting off. Thankfully I met a lovely old lady walking her dogs - the conversation went like so.
'You a coast path walker love?'
'Oh, err, yes, hello! I'm a little off the track I think.'
'A little, you've climbed a couple hundred feet too high.'
'Right. Shit. Really? Right. Err...'
'But don't worry, just cut through the gate there and take a right, you'll be back on the path eventually.'
I thanked her and was quickly on my way - turns out I did come back on the right path, though with an added mile on the recommended route. Caught sight of a blue Meriva perched in one of the clifftop car parks and thought it looked familiar - turns out mum and dad had driven ahead and soon I saw my dad, perched on a bench and looking rather entertained. They made the trip a little faster than I did...
The rest of the walk was relatively uninspiring until I decided to take the 'rugged alternative path.' Again, added a couple of miles but it was rougher underfoot and took me much closer to the sea, with views over to South Wales. Hurlstone point was gorgeous and descending through pretty woodland into Porlock Weir was a real highlight of the day. Mum and dad made a final appearance with a hug goodbye whilst I pitched up in the lovely Sparkhayes farm campsite.
Unfortunately the evening was sullied a little by the ignorance of the woman who ran one of the local shops - she decided that I (as a six foot two inch, twenty two year old with a beard) didn't look old enough to buy matches to light my stove. At the time I held my tongue but might I add, if you're reading this woman who runs the shop next to the Royal Oak, then I applauded the drunk fellow I saw peeing up your shop window later that night. He was a hero and not the only one I met in Porlock.
Thankfully both the campsite itself and Porlock as a town were full of heroes - very friendly, the guy that ran the camp even got his maps out to offer a bit of route advice and another member of staff went so far as to lend me some matches and offer his opinion on the girl in the shop. The local pub (the Royal Oak) was good and did a nice pint to accompany some food that can only be described as uhh, 'hearty.' Very hearty and one of the locals was good enough to let me beat him at pool a few times.