A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick
The Coleridge Way was, for us, a last-minute substitution. My in-laws, Naomi and Adrian, had been accompanying me on walks along the seacoast in Wales and, indeed, we had walked for several days on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in 2017. But my companions were in the process of moving from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2019 and they were unable to commit to dates in their usual timely fashion. When we did have these established at last our usual trip organizers, Celtic Trails, were unable to secure the accommodation we required and they suggested several other possibilities. These included The Coleridge Way in Devon and Somerset and this, we decided, would be our expedition for 2019.
I don’t believe I had even heard of this route before it was recommended by Celtic Trails and this was not the only unique aspect of its inclusion in the walker’s journal section on this website. It also has the distinction, if we can call it that, of being the only route that we did not in fact complete. Why this was so and why I should choose to include it anyway must be revealed.
The Coleridge Way memorializes the territory familiar to the famous poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (and his friends the Wordsworths) as it makes it ways from Coleridge’s Cottage in Somerset’s Nether Stowey to Lynmouth in North Devon. It passes through the Quantock and Brendon Hills and portions of Exmoor National Park and takes in some very lovely countryside indeed. It is a fairly new route, having been inaugurated in 2005 – with an extension from Porlock to Lynmouth having been added only in 2014. Much of this waymarked route has been characterized as “easy” or “moderate” but it is hilly, some of the stretches are lengthy and if you are senior walkers like us or have to march in the hot summer months you will find some it challenging indeed. These are some of the reasons that we shortened some of the stages. Getting lost was also a bit of a problem but here we have one of the reasons why even a route description with gaps may prove instructive for others – for you can see how to get on with it even though some sections have to be skipped.
Celtic Trails provided us with the two relevant OS Explorer maps, 140 (Quantock Hills & Bridgewater) and OL9 (Exmoor). They also supplied xeroxes of the official route description from www.coleridgeway.co.uk (and xeroxes of the releant sections of the above OS maps). A companion guide by Ian Pearson appeared in 2015 but in 2019 Amazon listed this as unavailable. What we did have with us was not wholly satisfactory – as the accounts that follow will demonstrate.
Naomi, Adrian and I have been relying for a number of years on professional organizers, like Celtic Trails, in securing accommodation and arranging for the transfer of our luggage. If you want to do all this on your own or if you are entirely new to the walking enterprise (and need some help in getting started) you may want to have a look at my A Walker’s Alphabet: Adventures on the long-distance footpaths of Great Britain. This can be obtained directly from the publisher at www.authorhouse.co.uk or www.authorhouse.com or from www.amazon.co.uk or www.amazon.com.
Here is the line-up of our efforts on The Coleridge Way.
Day 1: Nether Stowey to West Quantoxhead – 10 miles
Day 4: Brockwell to Porlock – 5 miles
Day 5: A39 to Brendon – 6 miles
Day 6: Brendon to Lynmouth – 5 miles