Following a wet and windy weekend at home we head off on our first trip of 2016. Part of the fun of caravanning is the planning and Lynnie and I sat down with a map back in November and identified parts of the country that we had yet to visit. So during 2016 we will make our first caravan trip to Scotland and also parts of England we have not previously visited. Of course, along the way we will revisit a few of our favourite sites.
Our first site of the year is located in Devon between Tiverton and South Molton and as we head west we go through an almighty downpour. But by the time we arrive at Plymptons Farm, just outside of the hamlet of Roachill, it has eased to a steady drizzle.
We try to find someone to tell us where to pitch, but get no answer at the house, so attempt to find the firmest spot. This appears to be on slightly higher ground at the end of the site. However, I had not calculated for the impact of molehills on the area of wet ground that I would need to pull the car onto in order to reverse back. Very quickly we were neither going backward, or forward, but down. After a fraught period a truck arrives to pull us out, that gets stuck too. A while later a tractor arrives to first pull the farm truck out and then provide the much needed assistance to get us onto firmer ground.
Then it is a case of identifying the driest area of another pitch and abandoning any thoughts of erecting the awning as the pitch is surrounded by puddles. Finally we are settled, but with a few key lessons learnt; (1) Book a hard standing pitch if caravanning between November and May. (2) Despite my off road Freelander training it will not necessarily tackle all terrains if it has a caravan attached to it! (3) Carry more gin in case of emergency.
One of the reasons for choosing Devon is that I have a client in Exeter and I am able to combine travel and work. So after a morning meeting I am back trying to remove some of the mud from the Coachman and the Freelander before heading out for a walk.
Over the Easter weekend Lynnie’s brother and his family visited us at home. Adam and Rew, the partners of Lynnie’s nieces, are keen walkers and the map came out so they could suggest good walks whist we were close to Exmoor. One of which was a circular walk from Winsford to the Punchbowl. Based on this recommendation we head off early afternoon to Winsford.
Our walk starts from the village car park opposite the garage, from here we cross the bridge and then turn right to go over the footbridge besides the ford. Our car route into the village had been via the ford, as I drove through I hoped it would wash off the mud from underneath the wheel arches.
From the ford it is gradual climb up the road, passing below the church. At a fingerpost to Winsford Hill via the Punchbowl we turn left and follow the yellow way markers along a boggy path before passing through a number of fields to skirt above Withycombe Farm before dropping through the westerly edge of the farmyard.
After the farmyard we cross Winn Brook before following the track as it sweeps to the right and starts uphill. When describing this section of the walk both Adam and Rew agreed that it was a good climb. I concur, it is a while since we tackled a long steep drag up a hill and this one soon has us both blowing. I press on because in about six weeks I intend walking the Three Yorkshire peaks with Lolly and Toby so I need to get some stamina into my legs.
Lynnie keeps a steady pace behind me, but her camera is soon out providing her with a bit of a breather. I wait half way up and then we push on together to reach the top of the Punchbowl. This is a stunning spot with cracking views. We decide to wander across to the top of Winsford Hill to get the fine views in all directions. In the far distance to the south, Dartmoor is clearly visible and to the north we glimpse the Bristol Channel.
From Winsford Hill we follow a fingerpost in a north-easterly direction towards Halse Lane and after walking along a wet and boggy track we emerge onto Halse Lane by ‘The Folly’. Here we turn left to follow the lane as it descends down into Winsford.
We contemplate popping into the Royal Oak for a pint, it comes recommended by Adam and Rew, but it means waiting fifteen minutes for it to open. Somehow it seems wrong to sit outside a pub waiting for the bolt to be drawn back on the door, it smacks of desperation!
Perhaps if we had walked twenty miles I would have waited but thanks to the fancy Suunto Traverse walking watch I purchased a few weeks ago I know we have only covered 4.3 miles. (I could also provide you with fascinating stats on the speed of our walk, the altitude and much more, I should stress that it also tells the time!). But one of the advantages of this clever toy is that I can provide a map of our route. Despite the trials and tribulations of yesterday it is good to be back on the road!
[To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map OL9 – Exmoor]
30th March 2016
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2016)