Run like a tourist – Exmoor coast edition

Edinburgh was the best place to get started on ‘running as a tourist’, and now Exmoor coast provided the next opportunity.

We had rented a large house for a long weekend, and drove in on Thursday after work to make most of the 3 days. Despite late arrival, the night was spent drinking and playing games, and the sky was already turning bright by the time I went to bed. Running was no where on the cards.

View from 200m above our window
View from 200m above our window

Yet, when I woke up 4 hours later, and saw the view from our window, I knew what I had to do. Running vest, shorts, water belt, shoes on, and off we went – I and my best running buddy, Chewie.

Exmoor Coast Run - West Porlock to Porlock Weir
Exmoor Coast Run – West Porlock to Porlock Weir

I had a broad route in mind, and it wasn’t hard to find or follow – run out of the village on road, take the path down towards SW Coastal path, and then follow the coastal path to Porlock Weir and back. It was simple route. Quite beautiful too, with sea on one side, and steep, densely forested hills on the other. Sadly, it was bloody hard too!

'Pebbles' at the only sandy bit of the beach
‘Pebbles’ at the only sandy bit of the beach

I had been warned that the beaches around us were pebbly, not sandy. No one had warned me, though, that those ‘pebbles’ were the size of my head. It was really hard going, trying to keep up a decent pace while keeping the feet from slipping, and twisting an ankle, knee, or worse. Nevertheless, we continued. And lived, uninjured, to tell the tale.

Chewie, though not bothered by the rocks, was at his own wit’s end – why were we running over this rough terrain when there was a perfectly awesome sea we could just go swim in instead?! My dog, he just loves water (except when it’s time for a shower).

The distance to Porlock Weir was less than what I’d expected, so ran a short bit beyond just to ensure we totaled over 5K for the morning.

Trying to figure the route through the jungle that was just below us
Trying to figure the route through the jungle that was just below us. There wasn’t a route!

Rest of the day was spent as usual – hogging, bingeing, playing, snoozing. The only excursion was a short drive to top of the hill to see some views and, more importantly, eat some ice cream. How we also somehow ended up hacking and hiking a path through dense thorny shrubs, in shorts, tees and city sneakers, I have no clue.

Day 2, run 2

Inspired, and excited, after the first run, I planned a longer, more ambitious route for second day’s run. Instead of heading West to the Weir, I’d head east on the SW Coastal path past Porlock, and Bossington, to the tower on the hill at far end of the bay. It’d be a beautiful, though slightly challenging run. It wasn’t to be though.

The plan was to run to the far tip of that hill marking our bay
The plan was to run to the far tip of that hill marking our bay

Was getting ready to run when Raghs and Aruna pounced on me, asking me to switch the run for a walk with them, and we’d go for a run together later that evening. I believed them! :(

Chewie & I after a fun time on the beach
Chewie & I after a fun time on the beach

Had a great day despite the missed run, though. Found the only, tiny bit of sandy beach and spent the afternoon there. Was especially pleasant for Chewie, who spent the whole time fetching ball between the sand and the sea. Later went for a pub lunch at Porlock Weir, and a drive for ice cream to the view-point atop the hill.

Day 3, run 2

Sunday was for packing, cleaning, eating, and leaving. I quietly skipped the cleaning bit, and Chewie & I got in that second run instead.

Exmoor Coast Run - Head East, young man
Exmoor Coast Run – Head East, young man

Went down to the SW Coastal path, but heading in direction of Bossington this time. The path on this route was in a far better condition – a proper trail, instead of just big round rocks piled up.

The running conditions had worsened though – sun was out, raising temperatures, and making running miserable for me. No such heating issues for Chewie though. There were marshes, and a running stream alongside the path most of the way, and he spent as much time swimming in them as running with me.

One final goodbye
One final goodbye

We took a short diversion on the way back – over a wooden pathway (for me, through the river stream under it for him) – to the pebbly beach for a final goodbye. While I stood atop the ridge, Chewie got in a quick dip in the sea as well :)

The run back home was uneventful, and I made it easier by ending the run early, and walking up the final steep bit, instead of running up like the previous time.

Quick shower, pack-up and exit from the rental property followed. Another pub lunch at Minehead, and the group split for drives home – others taking a direct route home, while we headed into the interiors of Exmoor for a longer, slower, scenic drive back.

View from Exmoor, across Somerset & Devon, towards Dartmoor (dark outline on horizon)
View from Exmoor, across Somerset & Devon, towards Dartmoor (dark outline on horizon)

2 runs in 3 days. Not bad running-on-a-vacation record considering I carried running gear for about 50 vacation days before getting in that first run. Now to keep it going…

Next up:

  • Croatia, in late August, and
  • Isle of Wight, in early September

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Run like a tourist – Exmoor coast edition

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