Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Exmoor

Where the coast and the moors meet.
We've travelled up from Porlock Weir onto Exmoor



our only company being the wild Exmoor ponies. 
Extract from The Salt Path by Raynor Winn 
"The South West Coast Path is said to have been established by the coastguards who needed to view into each and everyone of the endless coves and bays as they patrolled for smugglers. But the many sites of ancient history described in every guidebook or tourist pamphlet suggest that the path has been trodden by man for as long as he has walked over the land".

Gazing out across the Bristol Channel we can just make out the Welsh coast on the horizon, but the wind is starting to gather around us, so we decide that it is time to collect the car and travel to somewhere more sheltered. 

We find a road that heads down from the top of the moors, but it soon becomes extremely narrow, and steep. There are trees, ferns and mossy boulders to our offside, and a rather frightening vertiginous drop down into the valley on our nearside. 

We hope we wont meet another vehicle travelling up the road, all of which keeps us on tender hooks, that is, until we finally arrive in the valley safe and sound.

Doone Valley, is a valley immortalised by R D Blackmore's book, Lorna Doone, published in 1869. Lorna Doone is the tale of a young boy, John Ridd, whose father is killed by Scottish outlaws - the Doones. The Doones were exiled from Scotland in 1616 to this remote corner of Exmoor where they robbed travellers and local farmers. Living amongst them is Lorna, whom the Doone family had kidnapped as a young child. John wants revenge for the death of his father, but falls in love with Lorna. It is a story of romance, intrigue, and mystery. Facts are mixed up with fiction, legends using names that have links to local families having been used, but is the story true or is it fiction? It is a story that leaves the reader to decide for themselves.
At Malmsmead a humpbacked packhorse bridge crosses Badgworthy Water, and rather like the road taken earlier, this too, was not built for cars. It is extremely narrow but can be crossed with care.

 However, it is far easier just to drive through Badgworthy Water to get to the  other side.


 Fortunately we discovered a much better road to take us out of the valley which followed the twists and turns in the river, and arrive back at our hotel in time for a freshly brewed cup of tea.

41 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Glad that you enjoyed but how fortunate we were with the weather.

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  2. Great post. A quote about classic books sticks in my mind " A classic... one that everybody has heard about but very few have ever read. I'm ashamed to say that's me as well but it's an almost universal story with huge adaptability that rings true... Romeo and Juliet, The Searchers (film) Sawney Bean etc, so it must have happened a lot in the past in real life,in every country with various twists, right through to modern times with troublesome tenants still getting evicted even now and ending up elsewhere to become some other districts problem. Like the water crossing splash.

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    1. Many classics are a hard read and could not be classed as light reading. I suspect that most of us crossed their paths whilst still at school.

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  3. Hello Rosemary, I read a quite exciting book by John Masefield about the smugglers along the English coast and the coves and caves that they employed to hide their contraband. (They also kidnapped a boy (à la Stevenson) to take with them--what is this with English people and kidnapping?) I was not gripped by Blackmore's novel (perhaps I just read it at the wrong time), but I used to love Lorna Doone cookies, which if they never made it to Britain, are a kind of shortbread.

    As usual, the combination of picturesque countryside, old stone, and clear streams has me itching to explore that region.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - Lorna Doone cookies are unknown here, and I am now left wondering just why you have them in the States. Blackmore's novel is not an easy read, but the valley where the tale was set is a little gem.

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  4. And all this time I though Lorna Doone was just a cookie. Fun trip.

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    1. I have only just learnt about Lorna Doone cookies from Parnassus above. I am curious now as to why you have cookies by that name.

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  5. Perhaps not our most spectacular National Park, but I'll argue with anyone who says there's a prettier one.

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    1. The fact that the National Park joins up with the coastline does give it some spectacular views.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,
    What an adventure you had. I marvel at the health of your Exmoore ponies. Lovely scenery and you have captured it so beautifully. A vaccine can not come soon enough so that we can travel again.

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    1. Dear Gina - the Exmoor ponies are owned by moorland farmers and are free to roam across the moors, but they are monitored by the farmers. Every Autumn the farmers gather them in to the home farm and check their condition, and whether they are fit enough to withstand the coming Winter months which can be extremely harsh on the moors.
      We do feel fortunate that we have managed to have two small getaway holidays this year, but abroad is quite another matter.

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  7. One of these years I'm going to read "Lorna Doone."

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  8. As it happens, I have just previously scheduled a pick-up today of two reserved books at the library. Now, I will have to plan on picking up Lorna Doone as well! Since I had a childhood friend (also family friends) whose name was John Ridd, his mother, Rosella, was an English teacher before she married but it was no secret that she named Ridd (or even Riddy when he and I were quite young!) because she loved and admired the book, so I will now try to get through it and see if I agree.

    As for the cookies (!) - I haven't eaten them in ages, but I may have to seek them out when I am shopping today.

    As Gina noted, those ponies caught my eye, too! How delightfully, with the photo taken through the fence, I felt like I was standing in the grass observing their peacefulness and ease with strangers.
    Lovely excursion you have taken me on this grey, hazy morning, Rosemary! Thank you and thanks, Jim, for the reminder about those yummy shortbread cookies!!!

    Mary in Oregon

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    1. Lovely to hear from you Mary - it were fortunate to get this little break away before the really bad weather sets in, I don't know when the next opportunity might arise.
      Should you get the book, I hope that you find it of interest, especially as you once knew a boy by the name of John Ridd.

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  9. I changed my account name and lost my design icon(?)
    Now, when I have time I will try to replant it or find something new!

    Mary in Oregon

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    1. Good luck Mary - I do hope that you succeed in finding your lost icon.

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  10. Beautiful shots! The ponies seem more interested in a meal than in the photographer.

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    1. Yes, they took no interest in me whatsoever, they were too busy grazing.

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  11. How exciting to see Doone Valley, and to read of your exciting ride down into it - especially so soon after I re-read Lorna Doone. It is a cracking tale, and as you say fact mixed with fiction, which kept me vastly entertained. How green it is, and the ponies are gorgeous. I wonder if they serve the cookies at Lorna Doone Inn :)

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing the valley Patricia especially as you have just re-read the book.
      No they would not serve the cookies at Lorna Doone Inn Patricia as they are a completely unknown commodity to us here. Why they have Lorna Doone cookies in the USA I have no idea.

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  12. Dearest Rosemary,
    One must have quite some nerves for driving through the water like that...
    Both ways, a very narrow bridge, and the driving through the water is tricky!
    Glad you found a much easier route back to you hotel; quite an adventurous trip and even more so after having read the book.
    Pieter read a book about such a robber family that lived on the British coast and he did read certain segments to me, from his Nookbook.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - splashing our way through the water was far easier than negotiating the long narrow road down into the valley which seemed to go on forever.

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  13. What an intriguing travel with some adventures, Rosemary! You seem to have almost monopolized the beautiful landscape and had rare experiences. Crossing over water using that narrow bridge or walking down from the top of moors look thrilling. Probably the place of mostly no mask and no social distancing? I like a fictional local story made out of non-fiction.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - being out in the country, alone, and in nature, is such a good way to escape the cares of our world safely.

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  14. What a beautiful setting for a novel. The narrow and steep road was an adventure to remember. I've not read Lorna Doone - it sounds suitably tragic for the time in which it was written.

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    1. One thing is certain Lorrie - we shall never drive along that road again. It was beautiful but frightening.

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  15. The first photo is lovely.
    Would be fun going over that road with water going over it, there are places in areas of Australia that are like that mainly in the north, of course crocodiles to look out for too.
    The road is narrow and windy and can relate to that living in Tasmania.
    Take care and thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yes, definitely no crocodiles in the water here.

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  16. what lovely pictures, my grandmother lived on Porlock Hill and I spent all my holidays there, we walked through the woods beyond the Toll Road and down to Porlock Weir then got the bus back, we had such lovely times there sitting on the wall watching the boats and having scones at the tea rooms. It has the happiest memories of my childhood for me, I did a post a year or two back when I took hubby there. Lynton and Lynmouth is also very pretty. thanks for sharing, everyone has a different experience of the same place and it's nice to see it through another persons eyes :)

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    1. I am pleased that this post reminded you of your happy childhood days. You were very fortunate to have your grandmother living in such a pretty location.

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  17. I read Lorna Doone in high school, Rosemary, and that was more than a few years ago! Perhaps Is time to revisit some of these old classics. It never seems to happen because there are so many new books to read. As always, to tour the British countryside with you is true sensory delight. Not only are the pictures breathtaking, your narrative is always lively and informative. Merçi beaucoup, Rosemary.

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    1. Thank you very much David for your kind comment - you have made my evening.

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  18. Such variety on this tour! A calming cup of tea after your hair-raising adventure? I should have plumped for something stronger, haha!

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  19. I have traveled across water filled roads several times. Really frightened me the first time on a 4wheeled trip through the mountains.
    Don’t know why I am surprised that England still has wild horses. We saw a few wild horses on our recent trip through northern Nevada. The bridge is beautiful. Lorna Doone brought to mind the shortbread cookies!

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    1. We don't have Lorna Doone cookies here, and until I wrote this post, I didn't even know that they existed.

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  20. Μαγική αίσθηση. Είδα την ανάρτηση και η ψυχή μου αναθάρρησε. Η ομορφιά υπάρχει, είναι δίπλα μας.

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  21. The Purlock Weir photograph could have been the Venice Lagoon.

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