Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Exmoor Day 2 – Mischievous rain and a sat nav mutiny

Landscape at Porlock Common in Exmoor National Park by Martyn Ferry Photography

After a very disturbed night, thanks to the seemingly endless rain tap tap tapping on my taut tent topping, I wasn’t up that early, not that there was much to be up for, the rain was still continuing its cascade of damp misery. So after a leisurely breakfast, by which time the clouds had taken on a more cheery countenance and the sun was finally awake, I took a drive over the moors to the coast, and Porlock Common.

Porlock Common is a fetching piece of land that comprises meadows of heather and a patchwork of trim, hedge lined fields upon rolling landscape, all situated right on the coast. It encompasses all of what makes Exmoor such an appealing place, in a way that very few spots in the National Park manage to do. And it was looking very fine in the morning light.

Porlock Common on the coast of Exmoor National Park by Martyn Ferry Photography
Porlock Common looking very summery.

After popping over to Lynmouth for a coffee break, I drove across to Simonsbath to have a little wander alongside the River Barle, a waterway that meanders through some delightful scenery. Then taking the road south, I followed it up out of the village, stopping to get an impressive view of the Barle Valley from above. 

The weather was back to its usual tricks by this time, and no sooner had I set up than the rain started pelting down. I didn’t have a rain coat with me so I scampered back to the car for shelter, at which point the sun reappeared and the rain completely stopped, so back to my original position to get a few shots. The view was looking good, with the land lit up by the sun under a brooding sky, but it wasn’t long before the rain started up again. I called time on that particular enterprise pretty sharpish, as I couldn’t be arsed to keep messing around.

View along the Barle Valley in Exmoor National Park by Martyn Ferry Photography
Looking into the Barle Valley under some looming clouds. 
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I stopped in Winsford, an attractive old village, for a bit of lunch, which was very nice, although I was thrown a bit when I asked for ketchup and the bottle didn’t contain Heinz ketchup, it was a Heinz bottle, but had obviously been refilled with something cheaper, which I thought strange, as the place wasn’t cheap and they obviously went out of their way to make good food, so as I say, I was thrown a bit. 

But I didn’t let it deter me from heading off to my next location, namely, The Punchbowl. I’d not been before and as I made my way along Winsford Hill it was an easy spot from the car, so I parked up and wandered into the Moor to get a better look. Thanks to its incongruous placement, it has been suggested that it was the site of what may have been the only glacier on Exmoor and indeed in southwest England during the last ice age.

View of The Punchbowl from Winsford Hill in Exmoor by Martyn Ferry Photography
It's easy to see how The Punchbowl got it's name.

Whatever its story, looking down into the converging valley, with its clusters of trees in their plump summer apparel, and the patchwork of fresh, green fields beyond, it’s worked out very nicely for anyone who enjoys a good view.

Trees and fields in the Punchbowl at Exmoor in Somerset by Martyn Ferry Photography
A close up shot of the contents of The Punchbowl.

Next up I tried to find Hurlstone Point, a promontory of land between Porlock Weir and Minehead that has commanding views of Porlock Bay. This took far longer than it should have, as firstly my car sat nav determined it was a task too much, so it basically gave up and deposited me outside someone’s house in a suburb of Minehead. It might as well have said ‘Find the sodding place yourself’. Then my phone sat nav decided it was going to take me to a place that sounded vaguely similar to the place I wanted to go, but was decidedly not the place I actually wanted to go. By the time I realised it’s game, I was miles away.

I did find it in the end, and after working my way through the tiniest lanes that the upper reaches of Minehead had to offer, I was out into lofty, open countryside and soon looking over Porlock Bay. It turns out I had arrived at the wrong time of day to get any pictures anyway, the sun was right in my face. Hey ho.

Trees line the moors in Exmoor National Park by Martyn Ferry Photography
Golden sunlight bathes this row of trees. 

Drove back to the campsite, stopping on the way to capture a row of trees up on the moors, in the warm, low sun of the early evening, before arriving back at camp and letting my culinary skills do the talking.

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