Mud & twisted trees

Up with the sparrows and their wind breaking ways. The morning was gorgeous. No clouds, all sun and blue sky. After downing my first (and usual) morning coffee, I wandered down to the village to buy the Sunday Times. Not many people about, but for a few dog walkers, so the place looked lovely.

It feels like every second building in Porlock is B&B or hotel accommodation – the rest are very tasty looking restaurants and a few shops.

Castle Inn, Porlock, Somerset

Porlock is an ancient village. The name means ‘locked port’ and, as it faces the Bristol Channel one assumes it has always had trade by sea. Iron Age man lived here as well, attested to by the numerous amounts of standing stones and artefacts found about the place. Archaeologists have dated a human body excavated on Exmoor to 1500BC.

The real history of the Porlock area starts in Saxon times (around 700AD) when the land was cleared for farming. Vikings attacked a couple of times. Once Harold (later to be the king that our old friend Bill the Bastard, shot in the eye) attacked halfway between Porlock and Porlock Weir. He and his well oiled machine of fighting men fought on to the village and succeeded in burning every building and stealing everything not nailed down or worthless. A nice way for a future king to behave! And we worry that Prince Harry goes to lap-dancing clubs!

But enough history (for now). I woke Mirinda and we enjoyed a lovely breakfast of bacon and eggs on toast before getting togged up for a stroll down to Porlock Weir. We took the footpath that leaves from the toll road. It started out nice and easy but gradually deteriorated into muddy slush. This was fine for me in my hiking boots but not so nice for Mirinda’s Reeboks. We discussed galoshes which Mirinda thought were a splendid idea until I told her they’d been around for years and I hadn’t invented them just then.

Mirindas muddy runners

We passed a man, two horses and four dogs at one stage and had to squeeze up against the bank to let them all by. The walk was very up and down but the views from the ups were well worth it and there was a little bridge over a little stream in one of the downs which was very pretty. Finally we emerged onto the Porlock Weir road and walked the final leg into the village.

The sea here washes up on a shingle beach and boy are they big shingles! The beach itself is only about 8,000 years old, so very young in geological terms. With sea levels started to rise and reclaim the beach, it will never get the chance to be sand, methinks.

We wandered round and out, noting the crazy signs and watching the build up of visitors. Two ladies sat painting watercolours of the same scene and I figured how great it would be to be an artist. Instead of just snapping away with a camera you could actually sit and enjoy the view as you dissected and painted it. Mind you, these two were like Japanese tourists and I can imagine them comparing the same watercolours when they get home.

Sign at Porlock Weir

We popped into the Ship Inn where I tried an Exmoor Ale’s Fox which was very nice. It’s a non-smoking pub! And I have to say it smells pretty good. Unfortunately there was a lot of people there so we went outside and didn’t get to enjoy the novelty.

Rather than go back up the hill, we followed the Coast Path along the salt marsh to get back to Porlock. It’s very slushy in parts and shingled in others. Mirinda wisely had her binoculars so she could spot lots of birds she didn’t know and will probably never see again.

Almost at the end we came across a bunch of weird, dead looking twisted trees. Mirinda thought they looked like the forests of Mordor. Found one by a stone barn that looked particularly photogenic so Mirinda snapped my pic under it.

Back in Porlock we sat down in the very cute Wortleberry Tea Room and had a high tea for two. It was a LOT of sweet stuff!

Mirinda took a granny nap while I typed up the mornings adventures. Upon her waking, I taught her to play backgammon and she went and beat me!!

Had dinner at the Countryman Restaurant – we were the only customers and it felt very quiet without any music on! Mirinda: “It has to be the first time I’ve been in a restaurant and been served by someone in track suit pants.” This is true for she wore trackie top and bottom. Apart from this, (and the fact that she kept sitting just close enough to hear Mirinda’s rude remarks) we had a lovely meal. The food was fine (Mirinda – blue cheese & walnut pate, somerset chicken. Me – broccoli soup, griddled boar with apricot, lime and coriander sauce) though, obviously, no room for pudding. We walked back to Hartshanger.

We watched Battlestar Galactica then Mirinda went to bed while I watched Match of the Day 2. Chelsea beat West Ham 4-1 with only 10 men!

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