Southwest Coast Path : Section 1: Minehead to Porlock

Official distance: 10 miles
Jen distance (getting lost, etc) 10.3 miles
Total ascent climbed: 2,290 ft.
SWCPA grading: Moderate.

A rather fine sculpture marks the start.   Quite symbolic, it represents a pair of hands holding a map.

My trepidation was the pair of feet holding me up. Thoughts of 22 years ago came back to me, hauling a huge rucksack up the steps that commence the climb up  to North Hill.  Today the rucksack was much lighter, and I was free of the dreadful pain that afflicted me so badly then. However the legs were 21 years older.

 

 

The symbolic sculpture on Minehead Quay road that marks the start.

The climb out of Minehead right from the start introduces the coast path as it means to go on for the next 630 miles: steep. Very steep. However it is short, about 2km and then the top of North hill is reached, the path escapes the woodland that enclosed it and the intrepid walker is rewarded with glorious scenery.  Only glimpses of the sea and coast but in front stretches the glorious panorama of Exmoor.

The steps up to North hill are between the pink and white houses in the background

Exmoor panorama

The good news for the puffing, wheezing walker is that it now stays mildly undulating for the next few kilometres, open, high moorland where little disturbs, just the birdsong and the sound of wind through the brush. Glorious, easy, beautiful walking.

The path now nears the high point of this section, Selworthy beacon, before dropping steeply into the small hamlet of Bossington. Soon a choice has to be made, the "official" route, or an alternative, the "rugged" route.

The "official" route towards Porlock

THe official route keeps away from the coast, is safe and very pleasant. The rugged route comes with a health warning. It hugs the cliifs, steep precipitous cliffs, it is narrow, steep in places. The health warnings can be summarised as "only for the reasonably fit and agile an in good weather". 

Take heed but don't be put off.  The steep bit is short and sharp, the path by the cliff edge is narrow but good, the views superb. I went for it. THe weather was good, clear, dry and no force 9 gales wanting to blow me over the edge.  Yes, my knuckles were white for a few hundred yards, but it is simply gorgeous.

The rugged route, the steep drop

The two paths reunite at the stone plaque that marks the national trust land of Selworthy and the now united path drops steeply towards the hamlet of Bossington.

Selworthy where the two paths reunite. Looking back towards Minehead, The "rugged" route goes off to the left.

The last 3km of this section is now through woodland, an enclosed path that can be muddy when wet. A bit of a trudge after the last few glorious K's but for me it was a feeling almost of euphoria. My legs had held up, the climb out of Minehead was stiff but didn't kill me - much - and my feet felt secure on the tough parts of the terrain.

 

Enclosing woods towards Bossington

After Bossington it's a couple of Kilometres walk through Porlock Village. THe direct route over Bossington beach is doable, but hazardous. Not recommended, by me at least.

Finally in Porlock itself, waiting for me, was Albert. A pleasant evening, legs a little stiff, feet a little sore, but a feeling of satisfaction. Day 1 and the trepidation was behind me. The old legs stood the strain.  Cool

Albert - Porlock

Time taken: 3.5 hours

Jen grading: Moderate with a few steep bits but lots of easy waking.

Campsite: Porlock caravan park. Recommended. Lovely. Great facilities, great position.

Bus service into Minehead, walk back.

 

 

Next:  Porlock to Lynmouth