When I was staying in Minehead on my own in January I did a walk from Malsmead along the Doone Valley. It was a stunning day and when I recounted the trip to Lynnie she was keen to visit the valley. So today, as our current trip nears its end, we are going to do a slightly shorter version of my previous walk.
Our starting point for today’s walk is the public car park in Malmsmead. When here in January the car park was issuing tickets for a date a month earlier, the same happens today. It is all a bit confusing, but presumably those checking to see if the appropriate fee has been paid know of the problem!
We start our walk by heading south out of Malmsmead along the minor road signposted to Fellingscott, Slocombeslade and Tippacott. As the road sweeps to the right we follow a footpath sign through a gate to join a track signposted to Badgworthy Valley.
After crossing a ford the path goes through a series of gates and then becomes a sunken track besides pasture fields.
After going through another gate the path descends towards Badgworthy Water, with Cloud Farm on the far bank. We ignore the footpath across the river, instead continuing south with the water running along to our left. It is another pleasantly warm day in this sheltered sunny valley, just like it was when I was here in January, perhaps the sun always shines in this part of the world!
Continuing along the path we reach a plaque to Richard Doddridge Blackmore the author of Lorna Doone. This book, first published in 1869, was one of Lynnie’s mother’s favourite books. The story was set in this valley in the 17thcentury and tells the tale of the love between John Ridd and Lorna Doone and culminates with the villainous Carver Doone sinking into a bog.
The path now follows the river through Badgworthy Woods.
We cross a footbridge and continue on with the river now below us.
At a junction of paths we turn right to follow a path towards Badgworthy Lees, and walk through the site of a medieval village.
It is here that the Doone’s were said to have lived. Whilst Blackmore’s story is fiction it is based on historical characters. An exiled Scottish clan, the Doones, were known to live on this part of Exmoor in the 1600’s.
The route now heads up onto the moor. In January I took the wrong route here, so concentrate to ensure we stay on the main route, which follows a clear path. I am not sure how I managed to go wrong before, I was enjoying the scenery and took a sheep path that stayed too close to the base of the valley.
The path leads us through a gate and we continue along the clear track along the side of Withycombe Ridge.
The track leads down to a stream at Lankcombe Ford, where Dexter and Crosby take the opportunity to have a refreshing drink in the ford. On the opposite side of the stream we have a choice of paths, we take the path that heads straight up the hill in front of us leading to a track with a finger post.
We continue straight on across the moor following the route to Brendon.
This is very pleasant walking and it certainly feels like spring as we head across the moor in the warm sunshine.
On reaching a road at Cross Gate we continue towards Brendon. The route is now along this quiet country lane and soon we see the village in the valley below us.
In the village we head towards the river.
Now we cross the East Lyn River and then turn right on the road towards Hall Farm.
We have now joined the Coleridge Way, a fifty-one mile trail from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth. As the road starts a gradual ascent we pass Hall Farm and then take a footpath on the right leading steeply uphill to continue high above the valley with great views.
It is a cracking afternoon; the only downside is the smell of smoke coming from the smouldering gorse bushes that have been recently burnt. I am soon wheezing away and rummaging in my rucksack for my inhaler. I know walking helps my lungs, but I never venture out without my asthma inhaler.
The path descends slightly and then rises again to skirt Ashton Farm.
Here the footpath forks and we take the route on the right to descend steadily through Ashton Cleave to the bank of the East Lyn River.
This is a very tranquil spot, the footpath now stays close to the riverbank passing Glebe Farm and then reaching a footbridge over what is now the Oare Water.
We cross the river and follow the footpath up to the minor road where we turn right and wander back down into Malmsmead and the 17th century Malmsmead Bridge that crosses the Badgworthy Water.
Back at the car we have walked a cracking eight miles. Lynnie agrees that it is one of the most stunning walks we have done on our travels. I am sure we will be returning here the next time we visit the area.
To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map OL9 – Exmoor
1st April 2019
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2019)