Obviously we didn’t leave Minehead until gone 11am, if you give us a check out time then damn right we’ll cling onto that room as long as we can. Plus everything we were meant to do yesterday got replaced with having a very cold, very tasty pint of much needed beer because that’s what happens when you book a room above a pub. It had been a sweaty day and we had to replace our fluids as a matter of urgency. This meant we had to spend a bit of time this morning buying shit from Boots to stop us from falling apart like Ibuprofen and KT Tape, and the Co-op for resupplies.
All good though, we did eventually fuck off out of the town and we were only just over a mile out when the countryside kicked in and we found ourselves wandering through the woods. Lovely. Sort of lovely. What’s with all these fucking hills? We spent quite a long time dragging ourselves up one of those relentless bastards that seem to lead to the fucking moon before having to descend some absolute knee-ruiners. They weren’t just steep, the ground was loose gravel and it’d just randomly give way.
Our route took us through Nutcombe Bottom which is, apparently, home to England’s tallest tree but that wasn’t on the trail we wanted to take. We stopped to utilise their picnic benches in the shade before continuing our uphill slog. At least the tracks were decent quality though, even if shade was somewhat lacking for a fucking forest.
I can’t remember the last time I sweated this much. Borneo perhaps? All of my water molecules were seeping out of every pore, I don’t know how I didn’t resemble a dessicated corpse by the time we gasped our way to Croydon Hill trigpoint for some astounding eyehole fodder.
We wanted to take the Cicerone End to End trail to Chepstow on account of the fact plotting your own routes is time consuming and really quite difficult on a hand held telecommunication device. Sure, you can get apps that’ll plot it for you but they’re all like, “Hey, why don’t you walk down this really narrow 60mph road with blind corners every 20 metres frequented by 4WDs driven by maniacs?” Yeah no. We’ll take Mr Andy Robinson’s carefully planned route, thank you very much.
Tarrant had plotted us a route from Minehead straight down to Kingsbridge (so I’m blaming her for the fact we’d had to spend the morning walking up and down relentless hills in an oven) but we checked the map whilst having a quick rest by the trig and realised that we could just cut out 1.5 miles and head straight to Roadwater to pick up the End to End trail. That sounded like a much better plan. That’s one of the joys of not trying to complete a waymarked trail, you can go wherever the fuck you like. Freedom!
The best thing? It was all flat or downhill all the way to Roadwater. We knew the pub would be closed, we’d Googled it to avoid disappointment, but the café attached to the shop was also closed. We didn’t even know there was a café but now I knew I was devastated. The shop was open so we bought a couple of cold Cokes and asked if there was anywhere we could fill up our bottles. The lady behind the counter offered to fill them for us which was nice of her. Then they told us we were welcome to use the café chairs rather than sitting on the floor, and there was a toilet inside too if we wanted. I felt so welcome! What lovely people.
It’s a beast of a climb out of Roadwater towards Nettlecombe and we’d decided to start looking for somewhere to pitch up for the night. We plodded through endless farmland, fending off flies that clearly thought we were more interesting than fields of sheep and shit. Tarrant was offended. The worse thing is, when you’re walking up hill and trying to gulp in lung fulls of air in order to not die you’re at a very real risk of swallowing a few of the fuckers. I mean, I guess that’s one way of increasing your protein intake.
There are precious few places to bung a tent. It’s not like the South West Coast Path where no one gives a crap if you pitch up right by the trail as long as you leave no trace, it’s not uncommon to see tents dotted around the place. Around these parts we’d have to tuck ourselves out of the way. The fields without livestock had grass up to our arses and I didn’t fancy the tick to everything else ratio of that. Anything vaguely flat was covered in nettles.
Eventually we found a small woodland that we could get into and found a place we could squeeze the tent. It was just on the wrong side of acceptably slopey but it was only one night, it’d do. We felt tucked away enough that no one would bother us, or be bothered by us, and got ourselves pitched.
Minehead, Somerset to Nettlecombe, Somerset, England
Stayed at: Wild camp in Kings Woods
Useful shit to know…
- The pub in Roadwater, The Valiant Solider, opens from 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10pm Monday to Saturday, and 12pm to 3pm then 6pm to 10pm on Sundays according to the mighty Google.
- The café is part of the Roadwater Shop which also has a Post Office. I’m not sure of the café opening times but the shop opens 9am til 5.30pm Monday to Friday, closes 12.30pm on Saturday and is closed on Sunday. It also has toilets.