Day Two: 2nd May 2009

Day Two Morning Set Off Wootton Dunkery Horner Porlock Evening Features Read Me

Day Two

On today's thirteen mile walk we ascended Dunkery Beacon which, at 519 metres, is the highest point in Somerset and on Exmoor. The first part of our route was along the Macmillan Way (West), dipping down to the sheltered village of Wootton Courtenay before climbing to higher things, namely the Beacon itself. We then descended through woods (alpine-like scenery) to the village of Horner with its tea shop and Packhorse Bridge. In another 1½ miles we reached historic Porlock - our destination. Our walk was one of contrasts - the wide open and exposed landscape of Exmoor and the lush green - almost cosy - valleys with their pretty villages nestling in the foothills.

We have reached Exmoor's highest point and here are Dolores and Dan to prove it.
Your truly was taking the picture!

Early Morning in Minehead

Before breakfast, with just a glass of water to detox, I strolled up to Higher Town, where I took these views. Early morning strolls in the rising sun seem to exert a certain magic over yours truly - a magic which might just grab you too from these two pictures. Magic? Yes, tranquillity in an historic village bathed in gentle sunlight. Definitely to be savoured!

The day has started over Watchet and the Dunster Folly (mound in the right background).

Looking towards St Michael's Church. The occupants of the house with the blue awning were having its roof changed from wheat thatch to reed thatch and needed planning permission to do so.

We Set Off

After breakfast three of us, Dolores, Dan and I, decided to head for Exmoor's highest point, Dunkery Beacon (only just over 0.5 km high). For my sins I was walk leader, since I suggested the walk, but despite this we reached Porlock safely! The wide expanses of Exmoor contrasted strongly with the neat villages, hamlets and lush green valleys that are the hallmark of this part of Somerset.

We have reached MacMillan Way West on the ridge to the south of Minehead and are enjoying the scenery and the weather.

Behind us are Croydon Hill and the village of Timberscombe.

We meet some cheerful horse riders accompanied by their happy canine quadruped.

I take an interest in an unusual group of trees, sculpted by Nature's ingenuity.

Wootton Courtenay

On the Macmillan Way (West) we descend into Wootton Courtenay, nestling in the lush green gently undulating landscape below Dunkery Beacon. Of courses, traditional churches reflect the historical context of a community, and so we paid a short visit to Wootton's place of worship. Interesting, but oozing less history than the Saint Michael's in Minehead's Higher Town.

We have Wootton Courtenay firmly in our sights!

We descend the lush pastures into Wootton Courtenay. Dunkery Beacon lies ahead of us.

Local topiary experts have added to the interesting aspects of this rural place of worship.
The church itself appears to be not older than 19th Century, and so lacking some history.

A colourful floral display greets us ...

... as we enter. Yes the church looks Victorian.

However, there is a nice carved rood screen, ...

... an interesting door, ...

... and what looks like a very narrow door leading to the church tower.
There were no doubt a number of other artefacts which escaped our notice.
However, the sunny weather was beckoning us to continue with our walk!

Dunkery Beacon

Dunkery Beacon, as mentioned frequently before, is, at 519 metres, the highest point in Somerset and on Exmoor. As you can see here, the views are of the tremendous all-round variety. We tarried awhile to soak in the landscape, and soon realized that the Beacon was a popular destination. Then it was time to descend to another of those lush green, tree-filled valleys.

We have reached Exmoor's highest point - one third of our party without much perspiration!

We have reached Exmoor's highest point - two thirds of our party without much perspiration!

And here we are again!

Here is the summit in splendid isolation ...

... and here are some more visitors giving the impression of
performing some ancient ceremony as dictated by time-honoured custom.

And so to Horner

We then descended into the green valley of Horner Water (a river). As we went, we could still good views across to the Bristol Channel. The landscape was characterized by bright yellow gorse, silver birch and scots pine. This gave a sort of Alpine feel to surroundings. In Horner, we "took afternoon tea" at the busy Tea Rooms. Suitably refreshed we wended our way across the Packhorse Bridge, and around Crawter Hill into Porlock.

We had views towards the Bristol Channel ...

... and back towards the Beacon.

Our descent is characterised by a mixture of pensiveness and happiness.

Here is another view of the Beacon ...

... and here it's time to discuss Exmoor, life and everything.

Looks a bit Alpine here.

It's yours truly again!

Lots of destinations to be explored.

On our way to Porlock, stopping for a short break.

Porlock and the Bristol Channel are in the distance.

The brook gurgles tranquilly beneath Packhorse Bridge in Horner. We have just had nice pots of tea in the local, well frequented, tea shop, and feel suitably fortified for the last lap of our gentle walk from Minehead to Porlock.


A thatched house guarded the way into Porlock. Here we had a brief nose around the old church, with its characteristically (for hereabouts) sawn-off spire, before catching the bus back to Minehead. The bus wasn't the open topper, but a common or garden single decker, but it got us back to Minehead in good time.

A thatched house greeted us as we entered Porlock.

Porlock church has the peculiar spire which appears to be a characteristic of some churches round here. Did the residents want to save on the last few feet?

We enter the church which is being renovated.

Nice flowers welcome us.

Long term residents of Porlock.

Here they are in close up.

And here is the ornate roof which has been guarding them for many a century.

Also life-expired, appear to be these parts of the church clock.


As mentioned, we still had time to catch the evening bus from Porlock to Minehead. Back in Minehead, we met up with John Edward's group who had done their walk along the coast from Minehead to Porlock. We had all worked up a good appetite and had a pleasant evening in one of the hostelries on Minehead's sea front. So ended our second day.