Day 1 – Minehead to Porlock Weir

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After a whole afternoon and evening of hiking I’ve finally arrived at Porlock Weir. I smile as I make it sound such a long way, it’s been 7 miles! However, those 7 miles have been tough. The hike started with a relentlessly steep climb and continued with valley after valley, decents that dragged on and more relentless ascents, over and over again. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I had two pairs of insoles in my boots. I thought something didn’t feel right when I started but like a fool I ignored it and carried on. It has caused some painful rubbing on my achilles tendons. The next few days will only get tougher too, these first few sections of coast path are apparently the toughest.
     It has been a beautiful day overall and did get easier once I removed the extra pairs of insoles from my boots. I’m currently at the Ship Inn at Porlock Weir enjoying a nice pint of Scrumpy, reflecting back on the my first day. There have been a few moments that have stuck in my mind. The first is the amount of butterflys. At one point I came over the brow of a hill and there must have been between 10 and 15 of them leading my way for a short moment. The was the parsley I had thought I had found, that turned out to be fools parsley, not the cow parsley I thought it was. I checked this in my food for free book as I have already eaten well, chewed a leaf of hemlock before spitting it out the moment the taste filled my mouth! I’m glad I bought this book with me as I have never had a bad reaction from rubbing anything poisonous on my skin or the inside of my lip. I’ve always gone on the basis of if it smells and tastes ok, then it must be good to eat. This experience today completely disproves that theory!
     As I got nearer to Porlock Weir, the butterflys turned to flys and the flys, became midges. As I neared Portlock Weir and got towards the end of the marshes I met a local who a had turned up to fish for some sea Bass. He offered me a beer and we had a chat. He was a thatcher by trade and was telling me that up until ten years ago the marsh was full of reeds until the sea broke through the shingle ridge running along the beach. In place of where trees once proudly stood, grey decaying timber skeletons took their place with their stripped branches reaching out into the air around them. I thought to myself how salt is a necessity for life and how it can also preserve life, but in the same hand take what it creates in the blink of an eye.

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The conversation drew to a close as I finished my beer, the guy had told me how someone came into the pub the other day soaked to his waist after wading the last part of the path on the high tide. He told me of an alternative route by road but I would far rather be on an off road path. As I set off I began to realise how a little research can come in handy before a hike and how I was lucky to have met this guy. Part of the path had begun to flood, and you could see the speed the water was moving up the path, I carefully walked through, without the water coming over my boots. I carried on to the next part of the flooded path which I thought may just be manageable. I carefully strolled through, as the water got deeper I moved onto the other side of the barbed wire fence to higher ground but I feared it wouldn’t be enough. Not wanting wet feet or boots I decide to turn back. By now the first patch of path that had flooded had grew in size rather dramatically and as I tried to wade through just as before the water covered my boots and began to flood in.

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As I finish writing this, I have just realised what and where the crackling, crunching noise is coming from. It’s a hedgehog no more than a foot from my boot, nibbling scraps from the pub garden floor. He’s lucky I’m a vegetarian these days!

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