The Coleridge Way was launched in 2005 (and extended in 2014) to create a 51 mile path across farmland, ancient woodland and moorland. Starting at Nether Stowey in Somerset and finishing at Lynmouth in Devon, the route follows in the footsteps of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, crossing the Quantock hills and Exmoor National Park.
Back in the summer of 2016, 12 year old Kellen Lincoln walked the whole of the Coleridge Way and documented his journey through poetry. We are delighted to be able to share his words and pictures as an inspiration to us all!
Day 1 – arrival at Nether Stowey
We arrived at Nether Stowey in the afternoon and checked in to the Ancient Mariner pub, opposite the house where Coleridge spent 3 years of his life. Once we had unpacked our bags, we walked to the medieval Motte and Bailey castle at the top of Nether Stowey. The motte [raised earthwork] still has the foundations of the stone keep intact and two baileys [courtyards]. From the top of the motte we could see across the Bristol Channel to Wales and saw the islands in the Severn.
“Day after day day after day,
we stuck nor breath nor motion.
As idle as a painted ship
upon a painted ocean”
(Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
Day 2 – Nether Stowey to Williton (12 miles)
We walked from Nether Stowey to Williton crossing the Quantock Hills. First we wandered through fields of corn to Walfords Gibbet, where in 1789 a man called John Walford was hanged for killing his wife. Then we crossed ancient woodland to the small village of Holford, which had a 19th century dog pound (where stray dogs get sheltered from the wild). As we continued through Holford, we walked along a drive where a once thriving hotel stands abandoned, with overgrown tennis courts and dilapidated cottages. As we continued across the Quantock Hills, we realised we were on the favourite haunt of the Lakeland poet Wordsworth. We later trekked around Broom ball and descended into West Quantoxhead, following footpaths and farmland into Stamford Brett, where we made our way up an old sunken road to Williton to our accommodation called the White House.
The Coleridge Way
As I walk in the footsteps of the poets of old
I listen to the poems and stories they told
I pass bright painted cottage of thatch and mortar
Through ancient oak and babbling water
Along sunken road and moorland climb
I trudge my way and hear their rhyme
I wonder past quarry and abandoned mine
Follow the feather and look for the sign
I tramp through fields of oat and corn
And scramble the moor of bracken and thorn.
Day 3 Williton to Roadwater (9 miles)
We left Williton, heading to Roadwater via ancient woodland and farmland. First we passed Elizabethan farm buildings at Aller Farm, continuing through fields of barley, wheat and corn. We followed a sunken lane to the village of Monksilver with its Grade 1 listed church, dating from the 12th century (its square west tower was built in the 14th century). Next we crossed farmland to ancient woodland, climbing the summit at Bird’s Hill before descending into Sticklepath. We crossed Pitt Wood and headed down into Roadwater to check into our accommodation for the night, the Valiant Soldier.
As I wander through these tunnels of green
Nothing unnatural is there to be seen
I see squirrels climb to their secret spot
And fledglings learning from their mother a lot
As I continue through the beech, the ash and the oak
I spy the black flag of the elusive stoat.
I smell the scent of meadowsweet close by
And see the kite framed in the blue sky
Day 4 – Roadwater to Wheddon Cross (9 miles)
Today we crossed farmland, ancient and coniferous woodland. First we climbed through Langridge Wood, where there is a Bronze Age cist (a stone-lined grave, which was uncovered in 1820 when road-men removed the cairn on its top for road material). We then crossed farmland, where we could still see across to Wales, before descending into Luxborough; crossing Lype Common and White Moor to a sunken road and overgrown bridleway that led to Wheddon Cross and the Rest And Be Thankful Inn, where we would spend the night.
A Tough Day on the Coleridge Way
The sun is so hot I feel I shall bake
But what am I doing here for goodness sake?
I now walk with feet so sore
I don’t think I can go any more
The green nettles they sting.
The many insects do bite
And this path keeps on going,
there is no end in sight
The gate it is closed, the latch is away
The bullocks though encircle me, they want to play
I try to dodge cow pats along my route
But some though, find there way onto my boot
The signs have gone, which path should I take
Oh no, a dead sheep caught in the gate.
All these problems you forget after a while,
Because the view over Exmoor can raise a smile.
Day 5 – Wheddon Cross to Porlock Weir (13 miles)
First we walked through ancient woodland to Dunkery Gate and ascended the highest point on Exmoor, Dunkery Beacon (in thick fog!) before heading down to Webber’s Post and on through a coniferous forest to Horner. From here headed up the opposite side of the valley to Porlock, being reminded by its steepness of how the Porlock lifeboat crew had to deal with a shipwreck and push a wooden lifeboat up Porlock Hill with its gradient of 1 in 4 in places. We followed the Worthy toll road for a bit before turning onto the bridleway to Porlock Weir, where we checked into The Café.
As Herring gulls soar high above the bay
Quaint little fishing boats on the beach lay
The blue tranquil sea laps the pebbly shore
But in a storm this sea could roar
Day 6 – Porlock Weir to Brendon (9 miles)
We started by climbing through ancient woodland to Ash Farm, before walking across farmland to coniferous woodland; we continued to Oare and Malsmead, where we crossed into Devon. More ancient woodland and a (small) hill before we descended into Brendon and checked into the Staghunters Inn.
A stag stands tall with antlers upright
He spies a rival after a fight
Their bellowing roar echoes all around
These dominant stags will stand their ground
A roaring charge as antlers clash
Crimson blood flows from a gash
The wounded stag gets driven away
The leading stag has won today.
Last Day (7) – Brendon to Lynmouth (6 miles)
We first followed a waterside path through Brendon Valley until we reached the Rockford Inn. Then we were onto a large track beside the river Lyn, through the valley of ancient woodland and waterfalls, which was incredible. We stayed on this track all the way to Lynmouth, where I went paddling in the sea, before checking into the Rising Sun where we spent our last night.
The walk was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Out of the moor, the tiny stream flows
Twisting and turning and slowly it grows
It emerges into a babbling brook
Grabbing rock from banks it took
Further down water levels rise
Meeting rivers and growing in size
As the big river from under bridges burst
The farm animals come to quench their thirst
As the lazy river reaches the sea Children laugh and paddle with glee.