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Following in the poet’s footsteps on the newly extended Coleridge Way

Following on from the reopening of the National Trust Coleridge Cottage, the scenic Coleridge Way has now been extended. It runs for 51 miles across the Devon-Somerset border linking Exmoor National Park with the Quantock Hills.
Walkers in the Westcountry will be delighted to know that there is a new challenge to enjoy from the summer of 2014. The delightful Coleridge Way, which originally ran for 36 miles from Nether Stowey to Porlock in Somerset, has been extended by 15 miles. It now includes the popular Exmoor National Park, the Lyn Valley and ends in Lynmouth.

This new footpath will take in some of the most scenic countryside in North Devon and Somerset. It also provides a link for walkers between and the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The opening of the extension to the Coleridge Way

The newly completed extension to the popular Coleridge Way was opened on 21 May 2014 by someone with close connections to the trail. Rosemary Coleridge Middleton is the great-great-great-grandaughter of the romantic poet, .

The opening event was held in the village of Malmsmead near Lynmouth. It was marked by the presence of the Mayor of Lynmouth and Lynton along with the chairman of the Exmoor National Park Authority and other members of the Coleridge family.

The timing was particularly appropriate as 2014 is the 60th anniversary of the Exmoor National Park. Funding for the project was provided primarily by the park and much of the work was completed by the National Park Rangers and Field Services manpower.

The connection with Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived in the area in the 1790s and his home, , is now managed by the National Trust. He is best known for his poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, said to have been inspired as Coleridge was on a walking tour of the Quantock Hills in 1798.

He was accompanied by fellow poet, , and Wordworth’s sister Dorothy. Walkers may want to ponder the strange tale about the ill-fated voyage of the mariner and the curse brought on the ship after he shot a black albatross which is considered bad luck by sailors.

Rosemary Coleridge Middleton urged walkers to follow in her great-great-great-grandfather’s footsteps by using the trail and in her words, “Keep moving, love thinking, do praying, keep talking, just toddle, but if possible do walk.”

The route of the extended Coleridge Way

The Coleridge Way is broken down into 12 sections, from A to L. From east to west, it starts at Nether Stowey, west of Bridgwater in Somerset, and climbs through Alfoxton and Bicknoller to Monksilver.

At this point, the route enters Exmoor National Park and continues westwards with easy to moderate ascents in places through Roadwater, Luxborough and Cutcombe. From there it turns towards the coast, taking in Higher Brockwell and descending to the lovely village and weir at Porlock.

The new extension of the Coleridge Way continues the route from Porlock to Ash Farm with some challenging climbs, then roughly follows the coast through the tiny hamlet of Oare to National Trust-owned land at Watersmeet and a gradual descent into Lynmouth.

Pubs, tearooms and village stores are a frequent source of refreshments. There are plenty of holiday cottages in the area to use as a base for enjoying stretches of this inspirational walk.

The full route of the Coleridge Way can be downloaded free and includes directions and points of interest on this scenic walk on the Devon-Somerset border area.

Have you ever walked part of the original Coleridge Way? Can you offer some advice about fitness levels, weather and suitable clothing for this area. We’d appreciate your comments.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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