I set off just before 8am from Coleridge's Cottage at Nether Stowey westward towards Lynmouth with a pitstop at Wheddon Cross planned so that I could pick up extra fuel, hydration etc. Glorious sunshine to start was short lived. Missed a waymarker and descended down to Frog Combe where I lost signal and wasted time trying to find the right route before retracing my steps and getting back on track. By now the weather had changed and as I headed through Alfroxton Wood the weather changed to heavy rain which pretty much fell on me until the fields just above Cutcombe when the sun finally broke through the rain and mist. On the ascent out of Monksilver I had to climb through a fallen oak tree that was blocking the narrow path (which was more like a river). I fell twice on slippery wet bedrock just before Cutcombe but fortunately only sustained a bramble thorn to the hand. Once spilling on to the lane I knew it was a short downhill stretch to my short diversion to meet Chris, change shoes and socks that were sodden, dry off a little and replenish my fuel before setting off again under beautiful blue skies. My feet stayed dry for all of 2km before soggy puddle riddled paths and deep mud made it an impossible task to stay dry. I then had two river crossings where there was no option but to wade across, the rivers were swollen from the rain of Storm Francis two days prior, plus the additional rain I had run through. The ascent up onto the moor in glorious sunshine was breathtaking but paths were like rivers with running water pushing detritus underfoot. As I descended to Porlock the weather changed again for the worse. I struggled through one overgrown path up Porlock Hill before following monotonous drovers tracks up onto the moors. By this time I was using my headtorch and navigating unfamiliar trails across the moors, slipping heavily twice on a steep descent which the sheep seemed to find amusing. Brendon Hill felt like one incline too many by now, I was soaked to the skin and the wind on the top had been chilling so I was pleased to descend into the shelter of the trees alongside the raging torrent of water that was thundering down to Lynmouth. I was relieved to reach Rockford from where the paths were familiar however speed was hampered by not wanting to trip on the slippery rocky narrow paths with vertical drops into the river. I didn't want my GPS to be the means by which my body was recovered as I was swept out to sea! So I moved as fast as I could safely. Watersmeet was a welcome sight. I could've kissed the sign pointing one mile to Lynmouth! Once I hit the tarmac I ran all the way down to the harbour to the very welcome arms of Chris and Nick. It took longer than I hoped but I didn't give up, one foot in front of the other. Forget the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner ... the Rhyme of the Ancient Trail Runner is now bubbling in my head. It had many highs and many lows but it was a memorable epic adventure that I will treasure.
The elevation on my SUUNTO watch is incorrect. It is a glitch that I am getting them to investigate. Any additional distance is where I went off route, particularly at Frog Combe but I retraced my steps and got back on track each time.