Les, John, Sue, and Janet – and 38 others

On a gloriously sunny Saturday morning 34 walkers boarded a coach which the Two Moors Way Association had hired to take people from Lyndale car park in Lynmouth to Ashcombe car park in Simonsbath. The coach was full to capacity and so we met 8 more local people who had been too late to secure a seat on the transport or to have contacted us sufficiently early to enable us to revise our booking.

This was the last in a series of bi-annual walks that began exactly six years ago when we started out from Wembury on the south coast to walk 117 miles to Ivybridge. Our plan, made before the pandemic, was to provide a guided walk, in April and September of each year, organising transport to facilitate the widest possible involvement, and as a way of promoting the route to a diverse range of people – regular walkers, members of Ramblers and others who did not usually walk as part of a group. After a pause in our intended programme, while so many activities were curtailed by the Covid regulations, and then when many people were still cautious about travelling in minibuses, we have enjoyed some wonderful days out together walking across Dartmoor, into Mid Devon and then onward onto Exmoor.

Forty-two people – and two dogs – set off together on ‘the last leg’, and although we had thought that such a large number of people might be unwieldy and would evolve into two or more groups as we got on the move, this never happened. We maintained a good pace throughout, making occasional stops for drinks on a surprisingly warm day. This stretch of the route is varied and we undoubtedly saw it at its best. When a small team checked the route in mid-February, and then again four weeks later, conditions underfoot were in places abysmal and the weather conditions very unkind with low cloud, heavy rain and high winds. No such problems intruded on this occasion and so, for example, finding Exe Head – the source of the river that more than 50 miles south empties into the channel at Exmouth – was no problem at all. Lunch at the Hoar Oak was a delightful break in proceedings where walkers could drink in the tranquillity of the valley and the sound of birdsong before we began the ascent to Cheriton Ridge..

At Hilsford Bridge we made another ascent that took us up high above the valley of the East Lyn river and provided us with fabulous view across the sea to Wales. After a long and steep descent we arrived in Lynmouth, meeting the road by a commemorative stone marking the launch of the Two Moors Way in 1976. Purists carried on round to the Exmoor National Park Visitor Centre on the esplanade while others got their boots off and headed for one of the local hostelries to celebrate the end of a thoroughly enjoyable journey from coast to coast with friends old and new.

Start point: Simonsbath
Finish point: Lynmouth
Distance travelled: 11.5 miles
Started: 20/04/2024
Walking time: 5hours 45 minutes