Distance: 9.5 miles
Time it took us: 4hrs 55 mins
And so, our epic adventure began. On a rather damp and grey summer’s day, we stood beside the much-photographed statue on Minehead seafront that marks the start of The South West Coast Path.
I have to say, apart from this celebratory marker, you wouldn’t really know it was the start of the UK’s longest natural trail as the town hardly seems to shout about it.
After snapping the obligatory selfie, we head off in what believe to be the right direction, along the sea wall and down a rather non descript, shabby path.
Eventually, the yellow Acorn that will soon become a familiar journey marker comes into view, reassuring us that we're on the right track. Then, it’s up through woodland on the first of many, many climbs to come, as the Path zigzags its way steeply up to North Hill.
At the top, avoiding the ‘rugged cliff top’ path as it warns about keeping dogs on leads, we take the official route to Bossington Hill and descend into Hurlestone Combe. Passing through Bossington village we head through Sparkhayes and Porlock Marshes past dramatic tree structures that look a bit like ‘dinosaur skeletons’ amongst the wetland.
Apparently, when the sea breached the shingle ridge some years ago, the trees were all poisoned by salt water leaving them almost skeletal-like. Quite an eery sight on a grey, dreary day.
Finally, we ended up on the pebble beach of Porlock with its decorative wooden posts leading down to the sea’s edge and beyond. Reaching the small village of Porlock Weir we head for The Ship Inn for a delicious pint – a post-walk treat that is likely to become habit – before hubby heads off in a taxi to collect the car and return to collect two dripping wet dogs and a sodden wife.
Despite the dampness, it felt good to have ticked off the very first leg of this journey, but a bit daunting when we consider we have just another 620 (and a half) to go. One step at a time.