WALK | Finding A Sense of the Wild on the Coleridge Way | Somerset
A long distance walk past the Quantocks and over Exmoor
The Coleridge Way is a long distance path that meanders its way past the Quantock Hills, the villages of the Somerset coast, and thence on to Exmoor and beyond along the Somerset/Devon Coastline - 35 miles or 51 miles depending on your start/stop point
The villages of this part of the world feel a little isolated, a little like time has taken you back in time but they make a perfact backdrop as you plunge and climb amongst the combes and high spots of this Somerset and Devon countryside
One of the shorter long distance paths - but short doesn't mean less challenging or less breath-taking - inspired by the wanderings of the poets that were once too inspired to venture forth
"...A walk in the quieter, wilder side of England..."
With its roots in Nether Stowey, its trunk on Exmoor, and its branches where land meets sea at either Porlock or Lynmouth – the Coleridge Way gives you perhaps a refreshing deep dive into this corner of England.
To give it some real specifics, the Coleridge Way is a 35 or 51 mile long distance walk in Somerset and Devon. A walk which requires days of ‘wanderment’ rather than a couple of hours. But that is what makes these journeys ridiculously special. Miles of landscape for you and whomever you choose to take with you on your way. Travels which only a very few people ever choose to experience. It is what makes long distance paths so uniquely personal. A combination of countryside and wander with you and your travel companions for company. It is that road less travelled by and it does make all the difference.
But what of Coleridge then? There is no real literature to this walk. Yes – it begins and ends in Nether Stowey, past Coleridge’s Cottage where once he lived for short times and made wanders to the places that you pass through on your route. But this walk is a window on Somerset with rare and beautiful views and a variety of landscape in a quiet slice of part of the world. The echoes of figures like Samuel Coleridge or William Wordsworth are just that, echoes of individuals who took themselves off to corners of the country like this to experience the quiet rurality and natural splendour that for the most part still exists in this locale.
So what makes this walk so special? Well for one it was the first of the long distance walks ever completed by Discover Hidden Britain. What some might call an inspired guess. A chance to walk over several days from one point to another with only ourselves and the packs for company. But a chance to see parts of Britain we might have never seen. It also took us over some of those places that offer a rare and special geographical connection – the Quantock Hills for one and of course, Exmoor. All with the smell of the sea in the air and enduring and enthralling rural views. A step into the countryside of Somerset and Devon.
The mileages are not so challenging. The countryside even in Winter when we chose to complete it was beautiful. 360-degree high points with views for days on freezing but stunningly blue skies. Glimpses of combes with just a ram and a few sheep for company. Climbing up on to Exmoor and across, across, across with an optional diversion up on to Dunkery Beacon. Spying Porlock from the margins of the moor before descending towards coastline and the quest of a pint in the pub.
But stay keen on navigation, keep your directional brain switched on, the weather can change like the turn of a wheel, in fifteen minutes, we had brave sunshine, dismal rain, harsh hail and then unbelievable a snow flurry. But observe – the quick jinks of deer, birds of prey circling and swerving on high, glimpses of ancient and modern history and of course the magical moments that only you experience. A flask of tea leaning on a gate overlooking empty beauty. Pinned to a silver birch whilst the wind barracked the fields. Stepping forth whilst wild ponies trotted past, foal and all.
The Coleridge Way is not the longest, not the most challenging, not the most varied, not the most anything particular but for me – it represented the opening of a door into long distance walking. A possibility of everything it represented. I found all of it on those wintry days walking over hill and moorland – wildlife, landscape, views and wonderment. It also offers one of the quieter spots of Britain, one of the quieter landscapes to wander forth and of course some of the most special countryside areas of Britain, whether you love poetry or not!
Directions and Map |
Find the start point at Coleridge's Cottage in Nether Stowey then wends its way ever westwards...