2-9 June: Finally the weather changes

Author: Mrs A

Location: West Bagborough, Porlock and Chard, Somerset, UK

Having provided us with the sunniest May on record, June has decided to become changeable, more along the lines of what might be expected at this time of year. The second of June, however, was very warm, with temperatures heading up into the high 20s in this part of the world.

We decided to travel back to Porlock, and hike some of the South West Coast Track towards Minehead. All up we walked 9.5km (Strava link).

As we set off we could see the wisps of cloud racing across the sky, signalling a change in the weather patterns. There was just a gentle breeze down below as we tracked our way through the village and wound our way along the marshland towards the next village of Bossington.

Bossington is a sweet old village, part of the Holnicote Estate which was leased to the National Trust in 1907 for 500 years, with the aim of preserving this part of Exmoor for the people.

Picturesque village of Bossington
Lovely quiet lanes lined with stone houses. In peace time there is a licensed restaurant and cafe here. All closed at the moment.
Stunning climbing roses with an incredible scent decorate the outside of old cottages

Continuing through the village we crossed the babbling River Horner and climbed up onto Bossington Hill, following a path that wound around the cliffs.

Nice shady respite from the warm sun beside the river
Climbing up on to the headland – a great view over the bay, looking out towards Porlock Weir and beyond

We picnicked at Hurlstone Point, outside the ruins of what used to be a coastguard lookout station in the early 1900s. We mused how it would make a great pop-up bar – though the combination of alcohol and the steep cliffs here might not be so good.

The sometimes murky waters of the Bristol Channel look blue on this clear morning
Beautiful splashes of colour with Sea Pinks growing on the cliff side – these pretty flowers don’t balk at poor soil, salty air or a good lashing from the wind!

We started to pick our way along the cliff edge walk, which originally was set up in the 1800s for coast guards to walk along between lighthouses, keeping them maintained and checking for smugglers. Fishermen also used this clifftop route to look for shoals of fish, before rushing down to their boats to try and catch them.

A caution at the start of the walk warns of dangers. Searching the local gazette tells of several sad endings for walkers who mis-step on this trail.
Strolling off towards Minehead
Mark with his vertigo bravely tackles a particularly steep part of the trail
Pretty Sea Campion nestles at the base of the rocks in the cliff

We climbed up most of Bossington Hill, before finding a resting place to enjoy the sound of birds and insects and enjoy the view stretching out before us, before looping back to Porlock.

A pied flycatcher?
A (common) Sand Martin?
Wonderful resting point

Wandering through Bossington on our way back, we spotted a local house selling bottles of organic apple juice for £3. Finding we only had a ten pound note, we started to walk away, only to get chatting to another couple of walkers who had decided to buy a bottle. The next thing we knew, they were buying us a bottle of apple juice! Yet another random act of kindness in our lives – how lovely.

Heading back to Porlock along the warm hedge lined footpaths

Later on in the week we decided to make use of the changed Covid-19 lockdown rules, which now allow us to mingle with other people outside, while maintaining social distance. We caught up with a couple from Australia, Beverley and Andrew, who had also been over here in the UK for the duration of the lockdown.

We picked the town of Chard in the Blackdown Hills Area of Natural Beauty on the Somerset-Devon border. It was half way between where each of us were staying. The weather was forecast to be showery, but other than a few drops of rain on our drive over, it turned out just fine, and we were soon stripping off the layers.

Andrew, Bev and Mark near the start of our stroll
Undulating hills and lovely views
Bev and Mark pick their way along the top of a field
Mark walks alongside a field of young barley
Nearly back in Chard

It was a good taster of the area, with about 10.5km walked (Strava link) and so nice to talk to people other than each other! Bev and Andrew are about to tackle the journey back to Australia and endure a two week quarantine in a hotel room, so we’ll be interested to hear how that goes.

The weekend was warmer than expected also, and allowed us a chance to go walking around the local lanes. The scenery continues to change with new flowers emerging and crops growing.

A wild rose adding a splash of bright colour to the hedgerows
Bare fields turn to green
A newly hatched Little Tortoiseshell butterfly dries its wings on the warm dry mud on the footpath
Beautiful peonies in the garden here at our rental cottage

As we approach mid-summer here, we are able to enjoy long evenings. Late Monday afternoon we took off on quite a decent hike (Strava link), walking just under 13km, finishing around 7pm. It was a perfect time to go out, with the gloomy morning’s cloud lifting to a spectacular evening.

Our walk started with a decent amount of uphill, taking us to our favourite spot of Cothelstone Hill, where we enjoyed a herbal tea and admired the views.

I wonder how many people call this ‘their’ seat on the hill?
A common stone chat perches on top of the gorse

We explored new pathways, winding through the woodland and startling a red deer which bounded off away from us. The path disappeared and we had to do a little bush-bashing through the undergrowth to find a marked path.

It took us into a plantation through towering trees and we picked our way along what looked like badger or fox paths through the ferns and foxgloves.

Lovely crop of foxgloves
Mr A picks his way through the plantation

It wasn’t too far though, and we were soon back on track, climbing up through peaceful lanes offering us rewarding glimpses across the countryside.

Quiet lanes leading to lovely views
Mr A admires the view
Almost could be a painting
A short break for an apple
How many pleases can you get in a polite ‘no trespassing’ notice?
Evening shadows create lovely colours
The final stroll home

The dry weather hung around for another day, so on Tuesday we jumped into Truffy and drove up to Crowcombe Gate, which to date has been the extreme of our walks in the Quantocks.

We took off in a westerly direction, marvelling at the different scenery, wrapped up warm against the brisk fresh wind blowing off the Bristol Channel. Fewer trees dot the scenery here, the low heathers and bracken making up the main undergrowth.

We ignore a path heading east, despite the tempting blue skies
A new vantage point from which to look across the Bristol Channel
Another bronze-age barrow, long ago raided, and more recently used as a beacon
Marvelling at the difference in temperature one day makes!
The subtle purple haze of heather is starting to emerge across the moorlands
Our local Chinook helicopter does another low fly-past for us
The Halsway Post sits on common land above Halsway Manor. This land was sold to the ‘Friends of Quantock’ by the council for the nominal price of £1, thereby keeping the land available to the people of Somerset and allowing local farmers to graze their livestock here
Beautiful coloured grasses you could almost believe were planted by a landscape gardener
Heading back to Truffy over out final style

It was lovely to get a first taster of another part of the hills. From here we could walk down to the coast quite easily…it’s the getting home bit we would need to work out. One day perhaps…

We finished our walk with ice creams from a van in the car park – locally produced Jersey cow milk ice cream with a flake for Mr A…and a chocolate-vegan ice cream for me. How civilised!

Footnote: Sadly our little rescued baby rabbit (kit), Bags Bunny did not make it past her fourth day. We shed a few tears and buried her in the garden here.

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