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Exmoor and the coast
a four day circular around Minehead, Somerset

This is a walk with many other route possibilities. We wanted four days hiking including travel from London, and days 1 and 4 are shorter. We also needed a circular as public transport is tricky here. However, thanks to Butlins Minehead, there is a good bus service from Taunton Station.

We were tired at the end of most days! The two actual summits were quite easy, but as for the rest of Exmoor - if you're not going up, you're going down. The steep-sided valleys can seem enchanting or sinister, depending on the weather (ours was the on/off summer of August 2023) and when you last read Lorna Doone.

Having said that, it was a very satisfying hike, with lots of variety. This is strong scenery - nothing is medium here!

We used OS Explorer OL9 (1:25000) and the OS App with a little arrow on my phone. GPS reception seemed erratic, but never bad enough to get us lost. There was no mobile signal on our Vodaphone network. Click the map here for a larger version.

Day 1: Minehead to Dunster (3½ miles, basically level)
It is possible to get off the bus at Dunster and take the short walk into town, but we went on to Minehead and took the wonderful coastal path. You walk first past the exotic tents of Butlins (photo 1), but out of town the atmosphere changes, with the sea on your left, a golf course on your right, and wide open spaces all around (photo 2). At the trees the footpath through Marsh Street, under the main road and up to Dunster (photo 3) is easy to find.
Day 2: Dunster to Winsford (10 miles, hilly)
We couldn't get accommodation at Wheddon Cross, which would have made this day easier and perhaps we could have rambled more, so we took a fairly direct route, going south (photo 4) - beware a signpost just beyond here, it may have been tampered with - then west to Black Ball and Bonniton, going along the road before taking a path into Timberscombe. We left on the A396, taking the first yellow road off to the right and the footpath past East and West Harwood farms. We then climbed the yellow road until we met the Coleridge Way which we took into Wheddon Cross, with a late lunch at the well-named Rest and be Thankful pub. We then went west to Luckwell Bridge and south via Oldrey Cross, Ison Lane and Furzehill Lane into Winsford.
Day 3: Winsford to Porlock (10 miles, hilly)
Needing to retrace our steps, we instead took a delightful path north-west near the river (photo 5), joining the road at Larcombe Foot and up Oldrey Lane, creeping past the farm before its dogs realised we were there. At Luckwell Bridge we went up Long Lane to Dunkery Gate (photo 6) and the Beacon (photo 7) - a long but gentle climb. We then went west and soon north-west on a lovely path (photo 8), curving down to Bagley Combe with its abandoned village (photo 9) and the road at Cloutsham Gate. At Cloutsham we continued on a gorgeous, well-signed path to Coleridge Way and Horner Hill, via a steep down and up to get over East Water. We were tired when we got to Porlock, we had underestimated the length of this section - though ice creams at Horner helped.
Day 4: Porlock to Minehead (6½ miles, one climb)
Having been before to Bossington and Hurlstone Point, we took the most direct route up, to West Lynch (photo 10) and Lynch Combe. We traversed up to the South West Coast Path (photo 11), did the Beacon (photo 12), rejoined the SWCP (photo 13) and tried to stay on it, but missed the sharp left turn to Grenaleigh Farm and came down one of the many other paths (photo 14) into Minehead (photo 15) in time for lunch.
(Click on a photo to see a larger version in a new window.)
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