DAY 59: Minehead to Lynton – 18.40
So today we were checking out of Minehead and mum was heading home. But first she was going to drop my stuff at my next destination and on her way back, we would meet for a coffee. Again I didn’t sleep so well last night but as if on autopilot we had breakfast, showered, packed up and got going. This morning I was walking on the main road, but at least it wasn’t too busy… the rolling green hills continued, it remained mostly dry and before long I had arrived in Porlock where I was meeting mum. A final cake and coffee stop before I waved mum off and set off to tackle Porlock Hill.
Porlock Hill is reputably the steepest A road in England, climbing approximately 1,300 ft (400 m) in less than 2 miles (3.2 km) up onto Exmoor: a very steep hill with gradients of up to 1 in 4 and hairpin bends. Grateful that I am not carrying the full contents of my bag, I tackled it in short sharp bursts and in no time I arrived at the top. Initially met with blue skies and lovely views, the wind then got stronger and stronger as the side vegetation dropped away… A final stop at the main lookout point to add some layers and waterproofs, just in time as the rain arrived. Honestly I have never seen such horizontal rain before and even walking in a straight line was proving difficult. Exmoor; probably stunning if the weather was different, the next hour was pretty horrendous battling with the elements as I continued forward.
Once the hedges appeared at either side there was thankfully some barrier to the wind and rain, and I was further relieved when I came across a hotel so was able to stop for a hot drink. Feeling rather glum, my mood was instantly lifted when the waitress spotted I had handed her a rare special edition 50p (which she gave back to me… bless!) and then I received an email from a guest house in the area I needed to stay tomorrow night, but up until now had been struggling to find a bed. They would not be around but would still let me stay there, leaving the door unlocked and breakfast stuff out for me. Just small things, but they definitely helped me continue for the rest of the afternoon. The weather improved too, and the final section before I descended into Lynmouth/Lynton was particularly spectatcular with the coastline dropping straight down from the road into the sea and dramatic cliffs each side. How very lucky I am to be able to take the time to appreciate views like this.
Of course, what goes up…. as I then had to make the steep descent into Lynmouth. Now when I booked my room for tonight – a reasonably priced guesthouse on bookings.com – I didn’t know the distinction between Lynmouth and Lynton. On arrival in Lynmouth however, I was suddenly made very much aware when I realised that whilst Lynmouth is at sea level, Lynton is actually up high again. So my 17 miles weary body then had to endure without doubt the hardest end to any day, as I made my way up to the top of the cliffs and the tiny picture postcard village of Lynton. Finding my guesthouse and the keys left out for me, I quickly changed and walked the few steps to the local pub for some dinner. I very much enjoyed the Somerset chicken I picked for dinner, and tried to ignore it contained cider… so my now 8 month run without alcohol still continues.