SOMERSET – meandering to the coast.

Williton – Minehead.

It was bright but there was still a cold easterly wind blowing as I left Williton. The sandstone church on the edge of town seems much younger than most of the Norman churches passed so far. A little lane was signed to a Bakelite Museum, outside the building were random exhibits – miniature egg shaped caravans, bikes,etc. Unfortunately it didn’t open till 10.30 so after a quick external peep I was on my way. The paths hereabouts seem to be part of an estate with walled sections and bridges over driveways. The lanes in the area have a reddish tinge to them caused by the farm vehicles from the red clay fields. The way was undulating to say the least with constantly changing scenes, tiny hamlets dotted the landscape, compass work was needed to navigate the network of unsigned narrow lanes. On paths, often the Macmillan Way, the vegetation was already high with nettles, the shorts I’d been tempted into today didn’t seem such a good idea now.

I arrived in Withycombe ready for a rest but was attracted to the squat towered church. To my surprise inside there was coffee and tea making facilities available to visitors so I enjoyed a sit down and refreshments. Thank you. The interior itself was interesting with some fine woodcarving. Two stone carved effigies, one of a lady with a dog at her feet and one of a man wearing a hat. There were also 15C stone carvings depicting ‘green man’ – these figures are apparently common in SW churches  All in all a worthwhile stop.

Effigy with dog.

Effigy with hat.

One of the Green Men.

I found a sign pointing up a lane, Dunster 2½ miles via Withycombe Hill. Soon I was up on top with views to Minehead, the Bristol Channel and into Exmoor, and behind back to the Quantocks. Further along the ridge was Bats Castle an Iron Age fort whose ramparts and ditches were clearly visible.

The Quantocks of yesterday.

Bats Castle and distant Exmoor.

I was glad to loose height out of the cold wind into forestry on the edge of Dunster. Until now I had seen nobody all day but suddenly there were car parks, signed ways and hordes of people. Dunster is a picturesque village with the added attraction of its castle. First though a visit to the Chapel House Tea Rooms for cheese scone and tasty tomato chutney, cream teas seemed popular with other tables. I wandered through the crowded streets and into the castle grounds but felt I didn’t have enough time for the castle itself so don’t know what I’ve missed.

I was keen to find lanes taking me to the coast for the last few miles. The tide was going out so I enjoyed an exhilarating walk along the sands rather than on the golf course above. All to soon I was passing a busy Butlins complex and checking into my cosy B and B in Minehead.



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