Day 15: 07 Apr 2014; Combe Martin to Lynton
|Date||Mon 07 Apr 2014||Start to end time||08h 54m|
|Start point||Combe Martin||End point||Lynton|
|Miles today||16.44||Cu miles||281.24|
|Ft today||6,324||Cu ft||51,845|
|Route miles left||1,187.03||Route ft left||143,532|
|Today’s weather||Heavy rain till about 10. Then overcast but dry. Torrential rain 12-2 then dry with some sun for rest of day. About 9 C. Strong westerly wind|
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
|GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)
“Today had all the hallmarks of being a tough day. It was pouring with rain as I got up and put the tent away. Then the route from Combe Martin to Lynton was said to be one of the hardest on the coast path, with over 6,000 ft of ascent. And there were no friendly tea shops at all in the whole 15 miles from start to finish. So I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it.
In the end, however, it turned out to be remarkably enjoyable. I’m not quite sure why, though. It certainly was hard going – in the end I climbed over 6,300 ft, making it the hilliest day of the walk so far – even more so than the first day. But the ascents and descents weren’t quite as stony and precipitous as on earlier days, and they seemed more manageable. And I also had the satisfaction of meeting a few personal milestones – at 1,043 ft Great Hangman is the highest point on the south west coast path and the highest point on the walk so far. And today’s walking took the total mileage to 281, which has broken my record for longest distance walked – my previous best was 270 miles, when I did the Pennine Way, and that was 37 years ago!
The weather was poor, but now that I have developed coping strategies, not unmanageable. Though I have to say, today’s rain was the heaviest of the walk so far. At one point it was coming down in torrents, with raindrops as big as gobstoppers. And although my tent was saturated when I got up, I have discovered that you can save time by not trying to dry it – I just wring it out as best I can, roll it up, and put it away. Then when I get to the next camp, I put the tent up, nip into the washrooms and collect as much toilet paper as I can without creating the impression that I have dysentery, and use the paper to mop out the tent. Usually I can get it dry enough to put the sleeping bag and Karrimat in without them getting soaked.
When the clouds began to clear, there were some spectacular views. Really, a lot of today’s walk was an upland hike, rather than a coastal walk. A lot of it is above the 700 ft contour, along the edges of Exmoor as it plunges into the Bristol Channel.
I particularly enjoyed arriving at Lynmouth – partly because I at last found somewhere to get something to eat and drink, and partly because it was a fascinating place in its own right. It was more like a Lake District town, situated on the confluence of two raging rivers, one of which has a small hydroelectric power station. And of course the rivers contributed to the 1952 floods in which 34 people tragically lost their lives.
I then clambered back up from sea level to my campsite, which, at nearly 900 ft, is my loftiest night so far. By this stage the weather at last had begun to improve and the sun came out. The nearest pub is 2 miles away and back at almost sea level, so I decided to “cook” for myself and had a delicious meal of chili con carne, rice pudding and custard, complemented by Cornish pasty and biscuits. Absolutely excellent, though I say so myself.”