Monday, 24 September 2012

Backpackers Exmoor weekend

The weekend didn't get off to a good start, to say the least. My usual packing list was composed ages ago and I've been using a tarp for the last ten years or so. I thought this time I'd take my new £200 off Laser Comp. When I was the best part of thirty miles from home it suddenly dawned on me that I'd left the tent pole at home. I turned around and went back to get it. Absolute pain. I then hit the M5 around Bristol at 5.15pm, the worst possible time. It took ninety minutes to get clear of it. As a result, I didn't get to Malmsmead (between Porlock and Lynton) until 8 o'clock, by which time it was dark. I took the wrong road off the main road down to Malmsmead, having to negotiate a hairpin bend on the single track land and then Robber's Bridge, with a stone sided wall either side. I just breathed in and hoped for the best.

I didn't see any of the other attendees until the next morning. There were just five of us, a very select bunch. I fancied a day out walking on my own on the Saturday so set off south towards Badgworthy Water across the river from Cloud Farm. It was a perfect morning.
Walking east of Badgworthy Hill, I passed by Larkbarrow and then on to the lane by Alderman's Barrow. The Exmoor Hunt was much in evidence, milling around me at times. They were pursuing a stag, I was told. At Larbarrow Corner, I went westwards on the Macmillan Way West by Warren Farm to Prayway Head and then along the B3223 until I veered off east on a bridleway at SS764423 across moorland where I stopped for a snack at Hoccombe Water. I then headed back to Badgworthy Water and Malmsmead. A really nice day.
Saturday evening was spent at the Staghunters Inn at Brendon. I didn't eat there but others did and said the food was good. Not fancy but good wholesome fare, e.g. liver, venison, etc.
A scene from Lorna Doone
Sunday's walk was back down to Badgworthy Water (really lovely), towards Larkbarrow and then up to the hamlet of Oare. At this point, I was with Andrew (probably in his late 60s) and Ian, aged 73. Andrew was navigating and led us the wrong side of a field boundary. We ended up having to negotiate a double barbed wire fence, scrambling up a steep bank and then jumping over another fence to tumble down the other side. It didn't end there! We found ourselves in the garden of Oare Manor House. Walking down the driveway, there were a pair of electric gates separating us from the road. Andrew was trying to give Ian a stirrup lift over but they were too high ( I don't know how the last man would have got over). Anyway, I saw a way out, up a rock wall and over a fence into the churchyard and that's where we went. All very unorthodox.