Horner Wood and Dunkery Beacon

Earlier in the year I did a cracking walk from Horner on the edge of Exmoor up to Dunkery Beacon.  It was the first time I had visited the stunning Horner Wood and I knew it was somewhere Lynnie would like.  So today we are making the short journey from Minehead CAMC to the National Trust car park in Horner.

We leave the car park passing close to the tearooms and on reaching the lane turn left soon passing Horner Mill, built around 1839.  After passing the mill we take a footpath on the right going uphill through Horner Plantation.  I was here in Spring when the leaves were emerging and now they are starting to fall.

We are on the route of the Coleridge Way, this trail covers the fifty miles from Nether Stowey, on the east side of the Quantocks, to Lynmouth linking locations associated with the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  Over the years I have walked much of the route.  At a junction of paths we turn right following the way markers, annotated with a writing quill, along the Coleridge Way, ignoring paths to the right and left as we gradually ascend Horner Hill.

As we head up the weather takes a turn for the worse and it starts to drizzle.  The forecast suggested that we might be in for a wet day, so reluctantly we don our waterproofs whilst under the cover of the trees.  This area is part of the Holnicote Estate, the Acland family seat for the best part of 300 years before Sir Richard Dyke Acland, 15th Baronet donated both this and the Killerton Estate to the National Trust.  The land covered 16,000 acres and was the largest donation received by the National Trust.

On the top of Horner Hill there is a weather hut, thought to have been originally built by the Acland’s to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, it became known as the Jubilee Hut.  During World War II it was used as a look out post, but then fell into disrepair and collapsed in the winter of 1946.  The National Trust have rebuilt it, following the original design, facing four directions it always provides shelter from wind and rain.

We reach a parking area with stunning views.

After crossing a minor road we take a path leading south to reach another road which we follow uphill before joining a path on the right running parallel to the road and then rejoins it for a while.  We then take a path on the left heading up Luccombe Hill.  At a crossing of paths we join the Macmillan Way turning right to head back to the minor road.  The low cloud keeps sweeping across the hill, providing an ever-changing landscape, one minute poor visibility, the next we glimpse the views.

After crossing the road we take the broad track to the summit of Dunkery Beacon.  There is a chill wind blowing as we walk uphill and by the time we reach the beacon it is blowing a gale and we have difficulty keeping our footing.  This is hardly surprising, Dunkery Beacon sits on top of Dunkery Hill which at 1,705 feet is the highest point in Exmoor and Somerset and it is very exposed!

From the beacon we continue west on the McMillan Way heading towards Porlock Post, there is a real bite to the wind so we keep moving to stave off the cold.

The broad track is easy to follow and we get some respite from the wind when the track runs parallel to hedgerow.

The track leads us all the way to Porlock Post.

From Porlock Post we head north towards Honeycombe Hill.  This is a very minor road and we make good progress with the wind at our back. At Thurley Combe we leave the road to follow a path on the right leading to the deep and attractive Lang Combe.

After crossing the stream we continue on the path around the combe spotting a herd of Red Deer up to our right. It is one of the beauties of walking in this area, it is not uncommon to come across these fine beasts.

The path leads to a minor road and we head northeasterly along it for a short while before taking a path on the left heading towards a plantation and then on to a minor road leading to Stoke Pero.  On reaching the road we turn left and walk downhill to reach Stoke Pero church.

This church claims to be the highest altitude church in England and stands at 1,013 feet above sea level.

Shortly after the church we take a footpath on the right, through a farmyard, to join a track heading to Stoke Wood. Soon we enter a field of pasture and then go through a gate into Stoke Wood.

The steep path descends quickly, traversing the side of the combe down to the confluence of the streams running down Prickslade Combe and Horner Water.

We cross Horner Water by a footbridge and turn right to follow a broad path through Horner Wood.

This is a stunning section of woodland and we have it to ourselves.

The route back to Horner is clearly marked and it is simply a case of keeping the stream to our right until we reach the old bridge crossing Horner Water.

From here we take the short walk back to the National Trust car park.  We have covered over eleven miles, much of it in wind and rain, but it has been a cracking ramble with Lynnie luckily agreeing with my assessment that she would enjoy Horner Wood.

To view this 11 mile walk on OS Maps Click Here

To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer Map OL9 – Exmoor

6th November 2018

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2018)

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