It is another damp morning with showers through to lunchtime. The forecast is not much better for the afternoon, but we all need to get out for some fresh air. We consult the map and decide to head towards Winsford and have a jam about.
Lynnie seeks reassurance that this will not involve another trek around the Punchbowl; her legs are still recovering from that climb. I offer an incentive, I suggest that after our walk we partake of a pie and pint at the Royal Oak.
Our starting point is the car park opposite the village garage. With the garage in front of us we turn left and walk alongside Exford Road, after crossing the River Exe we stop to admire the old bridge, shortly after we turn right up Furzehill Lane. It is a long, steady climb up the quiet, country lane; eventually levelling out.
At Upcott Cross we turn left along Ison Lane, a farm track that leads past East Nurcott and then continues to climb, before descending down to a field that we cross to reach a road, Oldrey Lane, here we turn right to walk past Oldrey Farm.
After another shorter uphill stretch along the road to a T-junction we turn left into Thorne Lane. This road has fine views, with Dunkery Hill to our right.
As the road starts to descend we take a way-marked bridleway through a gate and along a muddy track bringing us to a field. We keep the hedge close to our right and descend through another gate by an old quarry, then down a field that becomes increasingly muddy. There is clear evidence of bears so we keep a wary eye out.
After a very muddy section around a bear feeder we pick up a track. Still no sign of the bears but we know they cannot be far away. We cross a stream using the stepping stones to avoid wet feet and make our way to a gate leading onto Exford Road.
At the road we turn left and follow this to Ashcombe Farm. Here we pick up a footpath leading through this farmyard and signed to Staddon Farm. The signs are clear but the farmer helpfully confirms the route. From the farmyard we start to climb Staddon Hill. This is a steep climb and we get a welcome breather when we reach a junction of tracks and stop to consult the map. Our route is to the right and then within thirty yards picks up another track on the left, we are still climbing.
At this stage Lynnie is flagging a bit and has to be reminded that there is a pie at the end of the trail! At the end of the plantation we go through a gate and walk with a fence on our left, still heading towards Staddon Farm. At a junction of paths we take a left turn along a track signposted to Larcombe Foot. This route is well marked and after turning right we get a view of the Punchbowl in front of us. Further down the hill the path sweeps to the left, the map shows that we are now on Kemps Lane.
We gradually descend, passing Kemps Farm and on reaching the Exford Road turn right and then almost immediately right again to leave the road and cross the River Exe. After going through a gate we follow a signpost left to Winsford. This takes us through a kissing gate and along a path besides the Exe. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and it definitely feels like spring is in the air.
The route is clear and after just over a mile we reach a road and turn left to wander down into Winsford, crossing Winn Brook by the ford. My Suunto Traverse shows that we have covered just over seven miles. It has been a cracking walk, free of the rain that was forecast, some good climbs and stunning views. Time to head to the Royal Oak.
I had expected the Royal Oak to be quiet on a Monday evening. We manage to get the last unreserved table and within minutes of our arrival it is packed. After we have both consumed a pint of Otter Amber Ale and devoured Steak and Exmoor Ale pies we can see why this pub/hotel is so busy. An excellent end to the day.
To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map OL 9 – Exmoor
5th April 2016
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2016)