Have a guess at the state of the weather. Yup: fog. It seems yesterday was the only clear day we'll get. We couldn't put off the one remaining Exmoor walk any longer, so despite once again being unable to enjoy the views we were up on the roof of the South West Coast Path.
First up today was the one part of the North Devon coast I'd been to before: The Valley of Rocks, and beyond it Lee Abbey. We only saw a couple of the Valley's herd of feral goats on our way through but when we looked back we saw perhaps twenty or thirty congregated in a car park (morning assembly, perhaps?).
As we dropped down to Woody Bay we caught up with the first of three groups of DofEers that we saw during the day. There's nothing like a handful of testosterone-filled eighteen year-olds to hurry you along. Unfortunately, being overtaken by a middle-aged couple isn't their idea of fun either so for a while we leapfrogged each other on the path through the woods.
We knew there would be two significant descents and ascents on this section, the first at Heddon's Mouth Cleave and the second at Sherrycombe. It seems the first put off all other walkers. Up until that point we had frequently passed others, but beyond we were the only people on the path. There was a significant amount of climbing elsewhere too, but these were the most prolonged sections. The steep, slippery descent into Sherrycombe at times felt more arduous than the following ascent.
Next came Holdstone Down and the unexpected highlight of the walk. About fifty metres away we saw six deer in two groups catch sight of us and disappear into the mist.
Finally we reached the very apex of the roof of the path: towards the end of the walk we summited Great Hangman, which at 318m above sea level is the highest point on the entire 630 mile National Trail. I think the only place that beats it on the coast walk so far is Bwlch yr Eifl on Llŷn. If only we'd been able to see beyond the end of our noses.
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