Writing this blog has taught me many interesting things; for example did you know that Glastonbury Tor is officially a mountain. As this page shows depending on what definition you use many hills can officially be mountains. I LOVE that the Glastonbury Tor achieved mountain status by using The Geneva Institute of Protuberance Nomenculture criteria – although extensive googling cannot confirm that this is a real institute!
With this in mind and a distinct lack of well defined mountain opportunities in May I looked for a mountain of the month using the Glastonbury definition and came up with a trip to Dunkery Beacon over the late May bank holiday.
It takes less than 2 hours to drive from Bristol to Porlock with most of it along meandering A roads along the North Devon Coast. There is easy (paid) parking in Porlock and plenty of shops to stock up on any necessary provisions for a 15 mile stomp around Exmoor. The route we took had plenty of climbs and a lot of variety in a small area. We started up through the woods, enjoying the dappled light and ancient trees. We left civilisation at Horner, sadly too early in our walk to justify stopping for an ice cream at Horner Tea Gardens which looked absolutely delightful and started up through Horner wood. After a few hills and valleys we climbed for the final time up from Cloutsham to Dunkery Beacon. The views were spectacular in all directions. From here we followed the moorland ridge line along towards Exford Common and descended towards Porlock Common and then through Worthy Wood via Pitt Farm to a well earned bitter shandy and plate of cheesy chips at The Bottom Ship. From here it was just a couple of miles back inland via the South West Coast Path to the car.
Exmoor is not as rugged as Dartmoor and while the views were spectacular I can’t quite kid myself that Dunkery Beacon was a true mountain by my definition, however, it is rare to find such variety, such beautiful woodlands and such a good leg stretch all accessible on a day trip from Bristol. Exmoor has definitely found a little place in my mountain heart.