Dunster Loop #Exmoor #UKwalks

I’ve been queuing up a series of walks – mostly about 10 km (6 miles for us colonials), and this is the second.

This started out as a “pub walk” from the house we hired in Wootton Courtenay – and we did get to one, about seven miles in. After several missed turns and places where the map … deviated from the trails on the ground.

This shows our GPS trace overlaid on the most current Ordinance Survey map. These differences made it a bit interesting.

I covered the first part of the hike on an earlier post where we hunted a local pub. So you can read that post for details. We take this walk up at the village of Timberscombe.

Saint Petrock’s church in Timberscombe

We headed uphill on the wrong road, but eventually found our way to where we could see Dunster in the distance.

Dunster’s there, somewhere.

If you get to this carved bird (the buzzard), you’ve gone too far.

Some of the local landmarks have a decidedly sci-fi name. Is Gallox bridge in Gallifrey?

Gallox Bridge
Inside the Stag.

We stopped in the Stag – which is an excellent pub – and let two sweaty, dirty, and tired hikers enjoy their pints inside. It had a guitar in the corner so if you were a better player than I am, you could entertain the crowds (or if you were a better runner you might escape the disapprobriation.)

 

 

The path heads uphill, of course, from the town. It winds its way past St. Leonard’s well (Shades of Blackadder) along a ridge.

St Leonard’s well. Locked, but making the footpath mucky for the last thousand years.

There is an excellent set of views of Minehead from the exposed ridge. The sun is shining on Butlin’s holiday camp.

Minehead.
Minehead in the distance

We also wanted to look for this weird feature – seen on google maps.

Unfortunately, it’s nothing special.

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Dunkery Beacon #UKwalks

I’ve been queuing up a series of walks – mostly about 10 km (6 miles for us colonials), and this is the first.

Dunkery Beacon is the tallest peak in Exmoor. We’d hired a house in Wootton Courtenay which is at the base of the peak, but if you’re driving there are other places to start from.  I would probably park at Webber’s post where there is a large parking lot, but no post.

We managed to arrive just after a heat wave; 32-35 is no fun without aircon. It was typical English summer weather; i.e.raining and cold.

The trail proper starts in a lovely grove of trees and then ascends a moderate slope.

Of course we started in the sun, but that was not to last.

Wootton Courtenay is there, somewhere beneath the clouds

We passed the ponies several times – this shot being on the way up.


These preferred Bracken to handouts, which was a relief.

The top is marked by a cairn. We used it to shelter from the wind while eating lunch.

This shows the path up the hill.

We followed a steep descent part way down the hill and made our way through delightfully pretty woods (Rowan and Holly so we were doubly safe from the foul spirits of the undead) to Webber’s post, and back to our house. If I started from Webber’s post I’d go across the hill and up the way we did rather than the other way around.

Of course, then the weather cleared.

The view from the Timberscoombe trail.

Selworthy Beacon

This is a good short walk for a rainy and overcast day. Selworthy is a short distance past Minehead on the A39.   Leaving from the church parking lot, we went up hill and worked our way to the Beacon. The church is worth taking a look at with original features dating back to the 1500’s. One highlight for me was a 1609 copy of “An Apology for the Church of England” by John Jewel. It laid out the case for the Church of England being more Catholic than the Church of Rome and every parish was required to have a copy. Unlike many villages, Selworthy lost nearly as many men in WW2 as WW1.  However, like many small villages, Selworthy has sadly lost much of its population since then.

Selworthy Parish Church

It’s a surprisingly steep climb, steeper than Dunkery Beacon. There’s a side trail to the castle – a neolithic settlement – that we didn’t take. The wooded parts of the path are well covered and somewhat close – even at 13C. However, when it opens up, it is windy and exposed. I valued my windshirt.


The top of Dunkery Beacon is hidden by the clouds in the distance.

Porlock Weir is in the distance (There will be another post about that). There is a herd of belted galloway cattle that grazes the heath.

This shows the trail down.

The village itself is mostly national trust property. We stopped for an excellent cream tea at the Periwinkle Tea room.

The National Trust Property

The Tearoom is left of centre in this picture.
Selworthy Village

Hunting a Lion on Exmoor.

Not the semi-mythical Exmoor beast, but a pub called “the Lion” in Timberscoombe. We thought we’d have a relaxed day with a short pub walk for lunch. Good pub food, a few pints, and an easy walk home.

Unfortunately the pub – which looks a decent place – was closed for renovation. Looking in the windows suggested it needed the work. So we had a few handfuls of trail mix (hint: buy the components and mix them yourself. It’s a whole heck of a lot cheaper.) and headed back.

Rather than simply backtrack, we tried a loop with short stretches on the A396. These weren’t too bad, there being pavement for most of it. (Sidewalks for yanks.) We did have a digression because some landowner had blocked off the public footpath. You’re not supposed to do that, but they did nonetheless.

Most of the paths on the way back were sunken roadways which tends to make for ‘close’ air and hot walking.

Dunkery Beacon – where we walked the day before, braving wind and rain, is somewhere in the back of this image.

We went through the pretty little hamlet of Ford and headed home for a beer and Stilton lunch.

Wootton Courtenay from the distance.

800 miles in.

me_on_bikeJust completed my first 800 miles (850 to be more precise) on my little cbr250.  I’ve learned a few things in the process.

  • Practice, practice, practice. The BRC gets you started, but it takes a fair bit of practice to get going with any level of real skill. There will be people who claim to have picked it up immediately. They’re either lying, fooling themselves, or unusual prodigies.
  • Go slow to go fast. Learn to place your bike. Then you can go faster. If you just try to go fast, you’ll be sub-optimal.
  • No one sees you. Really. I’ve had people blithely walk into the street in front of me and even next to me. And they weren’t even on their cell phone (mobile).
  • Watch out for cars. Cage drivers text, drink, smoke and do everything but pay attention to the road. Occasionally you’ll run across a really crazy one. Let them get in front – you can keep an eye on them that way.
  • It’s a surprising amount of exercise. Your legs will get a workout from shifting weight in turns and lifting your bum when going over bumps. There are lots of bumps on Atlanta streets. Your arms and shoulders will get a workout too.
  • New tires are great.
  • The wind at 65-70 miles an hour is ferocious. So is the noise. It will buffet you – which is why your shoulders will hurt.
  • Freeway driving is boring.
  • My CBR needs a better windshield to use on the highway. Up to about 50-55 mph the wind is not bad. Above that it’s a P.I.T.A.  It could also use a few more horses if I were to ride freeways more often. On the other hand it’s a great city bike – snappy, nimble, and fast below 50 mph.

Sandhill Cranes 2017.

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The sandhill cranes have returned. We saw the first few birds a couple of weeks ago, but now they are there in flocks. When we drove through today, they were a tad more spread out than usual. These ones (above) were hunting the early wood frogs. I could hear the frogs while I took the pictures.
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These were across the street from the others. During the summer this hill is a cotton field, so I’m not sure what critters there are now.
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However, there must be something because the flocks were spread out over several fields. These were the closest to the road where there was a convenient place to pull over and take pictures. I used a 600mm sigma lens. I’m not thoroughly happy about the sharpness.

crane_map This map shows where to look if you’re interested in seeing them yourselves. Remember they are protected birds. If you continue to Centre there are some half-decent places to eat and the petrol is about 30 cents cheaper than in Atlanta.

Squidly Do-right

Motorcycling in Atlanta

Not many pictures with this post.

me_on_bikeWinter is upon us, just as I’m getting better at the biking. It’s not too hard to keep warm in mid-30’s (1-2) degree weather when you’re commuting. (45-50 Mph max). If I keep my trunk warm – wind shell in my outer jacket and a layer inside seems to be enough – then I’m pretty comfortable. Although I do need slightly warmer gloves. As long as you don’t have a “death grip” on the handlebars your hands will stay warm – though your fingertips may get a tad cool. The chill begins to penetrate at the high end of those speeds so real highway riding would require more layers.

SMIDSY (sorry mate I didn’t see you) accidents seem to be the biggest hazard so far. Atlanta drivers tend to slip into tiny gaps in stopped traffic so that they can turn into the other direction. You can’t see them because the other cars are blocking your view and they aren’t looking for you. This drives me up the wall when I’m driving a car, but that would be only a fender-bender.

The roads themselves aren’t too bad. There are a few places with perennial steel plates – which are a real headache, but the drivers seem to be aware that you might need to swerve around them.

Stop and go volume delays are a royal pain. It’s not too hard to creep along, but unlike an automagic transmission, I have to use the clutch. I even managed an steepish uphill creep which is not bad. I like, scratch that, love being out in the air, but there are limits. Half an hour to go 300 metres is a bit much.

My little CBR250 looks too much like a scooter, so I have idiots trying to pass it because they seem to think I can only go 25.  Usually I let them by because it isn’t exactly smart to get into an argument with 2 or more tons of steel cage. There is no point in pushing the speed to 50 just to slam into a stopped car in front of you, is there?  Best to leave the game of chicken to the bird-brains. The one defensive thing I do all the time is to look quite far ahead on the road. I do that when driving and probably more when riding simply because I get a much better view.