A Jaunt to Somerset

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Five of us decided to head to Somerset for a long weekend, leaving on the Friday and coming back the Monday. It wasn’t one of our early, early starts but it was early. We met at the services at London Colney and got onto the M25. As it was early traffic was okay, not brilliant because it never is, but it was okay.

We then joined the M5 and headed towards Riders of Bridgwater which is a Harley Davidson and Ducati dealership. The showroom is spread over two floors and has a myriad of bikes to look at as well as clothing and accessories and best of all it has a cafe.

We had a leisurely cooked breakfast with copious amounts of coffee and a wonder around. A really good place for a pit stop.

We carried on towards Roadwater in Somerset which was where our cottage was. We had to meet the owner of the cottage at their house and then we were to follow him to the cottage. Simple.

Um… no … we got to the town where the owner lived and I’m not sure what happened but we got split up, two went one way, two went another and the other I’m not where he ended up. I was with Stephen and we followed his sat nav and found the owner’s house which was, to be honest, very remote. I stayed at the house and Stephen rode off to find the others. A short while later Graham appeared. I’m not sure where John and Giles had gone but it must have been another ¾ of an hour before they appeared with Stephen. Phew!

After a chat with the owner he hopped in his car and said to follow him to the cottage which was “just down the road”. Well, we were riding for a good twenty minutes and we ended up down this back country lane which led to our cottage.

There was a kind of parking space or probably better description is parking area with the odd bit of concrete but it was big enough for all our bikes and tucked behind a hedge which was the main thing.

I kid you not, we followed the owner down this footpath, over a wooden bridge and up a set of steps and finally reached our cottage. It was remote to say the least. We put the kettle on and settled in.

After a bit of R&R we got back on the bikes to explore the area. Literally 100 yards down the lane there was a pub. Nothing else, just a pub. We stopped to check it served food, it’s opening times and booked a table. Dinner was sorted.

We carried on and had a ride around stopping on the way back via a supermarket to get supplies and beer. We found a much better route to the cottage too and had now got our bearings.

Come early evening we walked down to the pub we had spied earlier, The Valiant Soldier Inn. We were not disappointed, the food was amazing and I could see us coming back for the next two nights.

The following morning we set off after breakfast to Lynmouth. I say set off, we got as far as the bikes and Stephen realised he had left his sat nav turned on on the bike. The battery was flat. After a bump start we were off.

We went to Lynmouth via Porlock Hill. Porlock Hill is west of Porlock, Somerset. And is part of the A39, connecting Porlock to Lynmouth and Barnstaple in Devon and is the steepest A-road in the UK, approaching 1 in 4 in places and takes you up 1,300ft in less than two miles with many hairpin bends. I am not a fan of hairpin bends but we made it, some faster than others!

We arrived in Lynmouth and parked up. Lynmouth is very pretty and straddles the West Lyn and East Lyn rivers in a gorge 700 feet below Lynton and the two villages are connected by the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway which works two cable-connected cars by gravity using water tanks. Very impressive to look at and watch in motion.

In 1952 a tropical storm hit Exmoor which resulted in a dam giving way in the upper West Lyn valley sending a huge wave of water down the river resulting in over 100 buildings being destroyed or seriously damaged along with 28 of the 31 bridges and 38 cars were washed out to sea. The village had to be rebuilt which included diverting the river around the village. A very interesting village to visit.

We found a lovely cafe for lunch and best of all this most amazing fudge shop. I bought some fudge with the intention of taking it home but upon tasting it realised it was probably not going last the rest of the day.

After lunch we headed out of Lynmouth for a ride following the coast road. We came across a cafe in a tiny village and stopped for a cuppa and some cake – well it would be ride not too 🙂

After getting back to the cottage and having some R&R and showers, we headed off down the lane to find the pub. It was nice to be able to walk to dinner which meant we could have a drink or two before staggering back.

The following morning, we headed to Dunster which is a beautiful village sitting on the north eastern fringes of Exmoor National Park, Nr Minehead. There are lots of quintessential shops and beautiful buildings and, most importantly, cafes serving home cooked food including cake. Perfect.

The village is dominated by Dunster Castle, a Norman fortress later transformed into a Victorian country house by the Luttrell family, who have held the manor of Dunster for over 600 years, though it is now operated by the National Trust. Well worth a visit.

After lunch we hopped back onto the bikes and decided to explore more of the National Park. It really is a beautiful place to visit, it was just a shame that we were heading off the following morning as there was so much more to explore. Definitely on the places to go back to list, hopefully next time for longer.

We headed down to the pub for our final evening. We couldn’t believe how busy this pub was bearing in mind there was nothing around it. A really good find.

After breakfast the following morning, we packed up and headed off for our journey home. We stopped at the local petrol station which was on an industrial estate to fuel up and spied a motorbike garage in one of the units.

We rode over to check it out and found that it was a motorbike repair shop which imported Japanese bikes. There were two floors to this unit and the top floor was jam packed with bikes. We were ooing and ahhing for ages over which bikes we would happily take home with us. The owner was a really interesting chap and happy to chat with us and tell us about the bikes.

After a couple of hours we finally set off for home stopping for lunch on the way.

A great weekend away, just not long enough as always. Thanks guys 🙂