The idea of Foot Trails started over 25 years ago on a 3 month hike across France, a journey from the Channel to the Mediterranean. On foot, living in the landscape with a tent, seeing where each day took us. The joy of the interaction with the landscape and being a part of the landscape was something we wished to be able to share and help others to experience, but as a celebration of our roots in rural England (and with a few creature comforts!).
At the end of October David hiked in Exmoor, a mini journey over 3 days with tent and pack, to connect with Foot Trails origins.
David’s adventure on the moor
I stepped down from the bus, adjusted my boots, picked up my pack and I was ready to explore. It was late afternoon, the short autumn day would allow for an hours walk. Opting to follow the river and save the steeper climbs for another day I had a hunch for a possible overnight camp spot.
The river raced and crashed as it made it’s way through this rocky valley, the thunderous sound always in the background. Steep valley sides were covered in woodland, autumn colours creeping in and the odd glimpse to a rocky face. As the sun dipped lower the light was crept up the valley, the day was drawing to a close.
I reached a fork in the river, taking the middle ground I took an upward route cutting across a loop in the river and to a patch of woodland. A quick explore and the perfect level ledge on which to pitch the tent. I settled down listening to the river, the owls and a rustle here and there as a bird or mammal scratched in the fallen leaves
The next morning the sound of rain on the tent eased, it was time to break camp for a days adventure, the aim to make my way to the open remoteness of the moor. A steep climb to start, following up a stream that tumbled down the valley side, a ruined mill that it once powered stood at its foot.
The sun broke cloud cover as I reached the edge of the moor. Golden ferns and rolling hills as far as the eye could see, a quick look back from where I came and I could see through to the coastline. The wind tugged at my hat and pushed the moody clouds on by, sheep, cattle and ponies roamed on the moor. I struck out in a southerly direction.
I stood at the edge of a high valley, ancient standing stones and burial mounds dotted along the the ridge, a river flowed through the base of the valley. The energy that people had lived here for 1000’s of years heightened my senses. Surveying the valley I spotted a likely place to cross the river and an old track that lead up the opposite side of the valley. Off I headed, to jump the river.
Tonight I would stay on the moor. As I pitched the tent the sun dipped behind the moor, the air stilled, and a small crescent moon appeared, the cattle called to one another, the sound echoing around the valley, as the light faded more & more stars appeared.
Dawn broke with the sound of rain, I would have to break camp in the wet, careful to leave no trace. Today I had a fixed point, to be at my journeys end in time for the bus. A check of the map and route decisions made, I made my way off the moor descending into a small village set, a little cafe created from a decades old filling station was the perfect pit-stop for coffee & breakfast.
A decision had to be made, up and over an open moor, or the longer route to follow the twists and turns of the river through the valley? I opted to follow the valley. Fertile, green, small farms and fields, a farmer gathered in his sheep moving them to another pasture. It was different in feel to the openness of the moor, a landscape governed by the rhythms of farming.
The rain cleared, I paused to listen to the birds, a robin gave a little song, a startled heron took flight and glided away. Old stone clapper bridges took me across creeks and rivers. A small town ahead and my journeys end. Time to sit and reflect on my journey.
**About this trail; this was an adventure David took for some reflection & time out. We wished to share this adventure with you, as a story about where we draw our inspiration from. We create our Foot Trail’s hikes to be more accessible than the hike David took, with easy to follow directions, and with cosy inns & creature comforts at the end of each day.