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About Summiteer

~Somerset Excursion~

30th June - 4th July 2022

Dunkery Beacon

Dunkery Beacon


Yealscombe Cottages Yealscombe View

Within this report are phone and camera photos from a short holiday taken in Grooms Cottage (Yealscombe Cottages) near Exford, Somerset. The participants on this trip are my brother, Peter, the writer and Molly the Collie. It was on my mind that Peter recently had a milestone birthday and we hadn't marked it with anything in particular; also July 2022 marks my 40th anniversarry of doing much the same thing in the same place, with varying financial rewards...but never such difficult trading conditions. So Sieze The Days!! We can take phone calls as though we were in the office and emails can be attended to; we will be off work from Thursday to Monday, inclusive.

Stowborrow Hill

Stowborrow Hill

On the way down on Thursday 30th June, we left the M5 near Bridgwater and took the A39 to West Quantoxhead, looking for somewhere to take Molly for a walk. We parked in a lay-by and walked into the woods of Stowborrow Hill at the northerly end of The Quantocks. The weather was not great and one path on the map ended abruptly at a quarry; the next one disappeared into overgrown shrubery. We concluded it was best to retrace our steps and so it was an out-and-back walk in this new territory.

The Crown Exford

The Crown Hotel, Exford

Dog-friendly pub with table service and a limited menu, but the food was good and at modern prices. We walked down from Yealscombe Cottages, but most of the way was on tarmac and it was also the same on a different return route. Very little traffic in the evening. Exford is at the heart of the Exmoor National Park; it has two hotels with public bars, a large village green (dogs not allowed); a general store and a church which is nowhere near the centre of the village. There is free parking for easy to access to many local walks, the River Exe runs through the village.


Lynmouth Estuary

On Friday 1st July, we drove to Lynmouth in North Devon and managed to find drizzle in the process. We took the popular path up to Watersmeet where the National Trust run a cafe; the weather improved along the way. It's a great woodland walk close to water all the way.

Watersmeet Cafe

Watersmeet Cafe

A familiar choice of drinks and snacks on offer. Plenty of outside seating and separate male and female toilets around the back. I'd read somewhere that the National Trust was de-gendering their toilet facilities, what a strange world we live in! Oddly, there were puddles in front of both toilet entrances, but this surely had more to do with regular footfall and recent precipitation than locked doors.

Butter Hill

Butter Hill 991ft asl

After light refreshments, we walked down the river for a short distance before taking path up through the woods and into open moorland to meet the A39 just west of Countisbury. We walked past the pub, into the church - no photo due to scaffolding and trees etc. Then up to the top of Butter Hill where an OS Trig Point greeted us like long-lost friends; or maybe vice-versa.


Lynmouth Bay

From Butter Hill, it's all downhill to Lynmouth on the gently sloping South West Coast Path, what fabulous coastal scenery!

Looking Back to Foreland Point

It's easy going and safe all the way down to Lynmouth. I forgot my camera on this walk, so the photos are all taken with the 'phone.


Tessas Dunster

Tessa's Tea Shop, Dunster

On Saturday 2nd July, we decided to take a ride on the West Somerset Railway. But first we had to find somewhere to get a tasty breakfast and on this occasion it was Tessa's Tea Shop in Dunster. All day parking is available nearby, I seem to recall it was £5.50. After food, we walked down to Dunster Railway Station via a footpath from Loxhole Bridge (see OS Map). But, the farmer has grown wheat and the footpath has disappeared. He is entitled to do this and we walked around the edge of the field - an obvious solution but one which leaves us trespassing. What would you do?

Dunster Station

Dunster Station

The schedule of running for today did not lend itself to buying a "Rover" ticket, so we bought returns from Bishop Lydeard with a mind to getting off somewhere on the way back to take a walk. £27 per adult for the Dunster to Bishop Lydeard return ticket. Dog £3. Soon the 12:28 service arrived, pulled by "Manor" Class 4-6-0 "Odney Manor".

Dunster Manor Odney Manor
Odney Manor

The train calls at Blue Anchor, Washford, Watchet and then Willtion where there is always something going on.

Williton Work Hymek at Williton
Shunter Maintenance
Class 35 "Hymek" D7018

Two men are busy watching a third man servicing the engine of the Barclay Industrial Shunter No1 or maybe No.2 - I can't tell which one of the two it is. The matching "Hymeks" carry numbers D7017 and D7018. The running one is probably D7018; my trainspotting skills have deserted me, such uncertainty was never allowed on the platforms of Preston, Crewe, Birmingham New Street- to name but three.

Odney Manor

Odney Manor at Bishop Lydeard

Here's a thing, if you catch the Settle to Carlisle train, you end up in Carlisle and it ain't that interesting; if go from Fort William to Mallaig on The Jacobite, you end up in Mallaig and there is nowt to do; if you take the train to Bishop Lydeard...well it's a bit like Mallaig, without the harbour. However The Quantock Brewery is within a short walk of the station and punters can buy the beer brewed there in the tap room. We didn't find anywhere to walk Molly. Of course, Bishop Lydeard was never the start nor the finish of the original West Somerset Railway.

Crowcombe Heathfield

Crowcombe Heathfield Station

Working at Williton Molly on the train

The same two characters are watching the guy who knows what he's doing at Williton. Molly takes shelter beneath the table on our train back towards Dunster, but she needs not worry, we are to leave the train at Blue Anchor and walk along the sea front.

Blue Anchor Station

Blue Anchor Railway Station

We watch the train depart. "Hands Up" if you need the loo.

Blue Anchor Bay

Blue Anchor Bay / Beach

It's not too far back to Sea Lane and up to Dunster. We went up to Minehead by car for food, heated it up at the cottage and later in the evening, we went to visit Tarr Steps.

Tarr Steps

Tarr Steps on the River Barle

Tarr Steps is an ancient crossing on the River Barle. Damaged in recent floods, all slabs are back in place where there has been a crossing since C13th. It was about a 12 minute drive down from Exford to the car park near the hamlet of Liscombe. We take a short walk up the river on the East bank to the first bridge and back down the West bank to cross over Tarr Steps. Visitors need to park about half a mile away in a National Park car park and walk down a path which runs off-road and past Tarr Farm Hotel - where refreshments can be enjoyed.

Tree Catcher

Tree Catcher

As the notice says: this is not a bridge. Set high above the steady low water level of today, the wire rope structure is designed to catch fallen trees rushing down to Tarr Steps after heavy rainfall and prevent further damage to the stonework.

Tarr Steps

Peter Safely Crosses

Porlock Weir

Porlock Weir

Porlock Weir is a few miles West of Porlock and has one of this Pay-And-Display car parks where you have to guess how long you will be, even though you might have no clear idea, especially if you've come to enjoy yourselves and wish to take your time. We booked three hours for our walk up to Culbone Church.

Porlock Weir Worthy Toll Road
Porlock Weir Refreshments
Worthy Toll Road
Wild Camper
Woodland Architecture
Wild Camper?

The walk up to Culbone Church is a steady uphill hike through fairly dense woodland. At the time of writing, do not follow the marked public footpath or bridleway as seen on the OS map; follow waymarkers which take you above the mentioned routes which are now impassable due to landslip. You will walk under a tunnel as well as the bridge shown here and the red tent is a mystery. We didn't knock on the zip to see if anyone was in; maybe it's one of those candid camera set-ups!

Culbone Church


Culbone Church

Culbone Church

Thought to be the smallest parish church in England, it once served a community of miners and lepers; now a small congregation arrives by any means possible for occasional worship, we just missed a service but greeted those leaving the church. We looked hard at the map and bearing in mind our three-hour ticket at the car park, decided to head back the same way.

Sea View

The Bristol Channel

Whortleberry Tearoom

Whortleberry Tearoom, Porlock

As one does, we went in search of refreshments and found ourselves in Porlock. The Whortleberry Tearoom is very good and welcomes dogs; tea is served with loose leaf and a strainer. A whortleberry is the local name for a billberry (in our parts) and grows on moorlands and hills.

Dunkery Beacon

Dunkery Beacon 1,705 ft asl

On the way "home" from Porlock, we drove up to the nearest point to Dunkery Hill and its Beacon. It's about 3/4 mile from the road and a little ascent to get to the magnificent viewpoint which is also the highest point on Exmoor and in Somerset. Many others arrived at roughly the same time, so I had to be patient to get the photos.

Dunkery Hill Trig Point

Dunkery Hill Trig Point

Molly got to the top of the beacon, but was denied a chance to jump up at the trig, it is under repair.

White Cross Exmoor

White Cross, Exmoor

Yealscombe Farm is just down the road to the right of this signpost on the B3244. A very narrow lane leads down to the holiday accommodation.

Yealscombe Farm Lane

Yealscombe Farm Cottages

Peter, Molly (hiding) and Me

I think that's enough from our Somerset adventures. The Yealscombe Farm Cottages have access to a private woodland walk and this is a fantastic secluded path through mature woodland down to a ford across the Exe; there is an alternative return route, but at the time of writing a fallen tree makes the return quite difficult. We booked through AirBnB and had no problems at all.

Peter on Dunkery Beacon

Peter & Molly at Dunkery Beacon

All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2022 ©

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