Day 19 – Dunkery Beacon to Monksilver

I was feeling energetic and positive after yesterday’s relaxing rest day, and looking forward to a good day’s walking through the Brendon Hills. It was another very rewarding day’s walking – down off Dunkery Beacon on a bridleway through a sunlit forest, through Wheddon Cross past some wistful animals, then up to Lype Hill, the highest point on the Brendons, where I stopped for lunch and to enjoy the amazing views.

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The path then followed a ridge walk down into Kingsbridge, a small village full of very pretty ‘chocolate box’ cottages. I stopped at the Royal Oak for a pint (a lovely pub, with friendly barman and an excellent cool pint of Exmoor Gold) before heading uphill again towards Roadwater. In the lane on my way out of the village I came across a lone sheep which had clearly escaped somehow from the field behind it, and spent an enjoyable 20 minutes trying to persuade it to rejoin the other sheep. Gate safely closed I went on my way with a sense of virtue (whilst secretly worrying that I had put it back into the wrong field). The afternoon was spent walking through fields and hedgerows, some with surprisingly exotic foliage including bamboo and some rhododendrons still in bloom.

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I say ‘walking’, but the path was often difficult to follow and in places was completely invisible, and many of the field edges were overgrown with nettles and tall grasses – unsurprising at this time of year, but proving to be a real problem for me, as my legs and arms were covered in nettle rash and hives and I was sneezing my head off! I had a restorative cup of tea at the edge of a ploughed field before heading down into Monksilver, where I headed immediately for the Notley Arms. This is clearly a pub known for its food (the menu looked expensive but very tempting) and the other patrons were smartly dressed – I felt sweaty and conspicuous in my damp tshirt, grass-covered leggings and muddy boots but the lovely barmaid didn’t turn a hair.

Arran and the kids turned up while I was halfway through my pint and we ended up having dinner at the Exmoor Forest Inn, where the friendly staff found us a room to ourselves and the kids played with the two resident dogs.

Highlights: Commiserating about horseflies with an actual rider (the first I’ve seen on a bridleway) coming down off Dunkery Beacon, the long shady path through the woods, the amazing vista and ridge walk from Lype Hill, cool grass underfoot in the pub garden at the end of a long hot day.

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