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Hike the Romantic poetry of the Quantocks and Exmoor — Coleridge Way

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Hike the Romantic poetry of the Quantocks and Exmoor — Coleridge Way

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson

5-9

days

3-5 h

/ day

59.2 mi

8,800 ft

8,375 ft

The Coleridge Way is a poetic long-distance walk that winds through the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural beauty and Exmoor National Park to the spellbinding North Devon coast.

The trail is named after Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who lived in Nether Stowey for three years from 1797. Coleridge fell in love with the landscapes the Way explores and was inspired to write his most-celebrated works, including ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and ‘Kubla Khan’.

The 51-mile (82 km) trail begins from Coleridge Cottage, in Nether Stowey, and heads west through the Quantock Hills AONB. The Way enters Exmoor, rises over the Brendon Hills, passes through some wonderfully-unspoilt villages and climbs high over Dunkery Hill to Horner. The path then crosses the county border from Somerset to Devon and makes an epic finish on the coast at Lynmouth.

You explore a rich tapestry of landscapes on the route, including moorland, woodland, farmland, heathland, wooded-valleys, and dramatic sea cliffs. Wildlife and beauty is abundant throughout the empty and serene countryside. The trail takes you through some traditional villages, too, most with historic buildings and welcoming pubs.

Highlights along the way include: Stowey Castle, a Norman motte-and-bailey castle built in the 11th century; Thorncombe Barrow, a hilltop with a Neolithic bowl barrow on its northern slope; Wheddon Cross, the highest village in Exmoor; Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Somerset; Stoke Pero, a tiny hamlet that is home to the highest church in England; Horner Wood, the largest unenclosed ancient oak woodlands in Britain; and the wonderful seaside villages of Lynmouth and Lynton.

The majority of the walk is leisurely with some moderate sections. However, there are a couple of steep climbs to contend with and the hiking does become more challenging closer to the coast. The trail traverses some sparsely-populated landscapes so make sure you have navigational aids and enough supplies. The path is mostly waymarked.

In this Collection, I split the route into four stages, each averaging 14.9 miles (24 km). Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages.

Every stop is well-served with accommodation. However, places to stay can be limited so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling your rest days accordingly.

To get to the start of the trail, you can catch a train to Bridgwater, which has direct services from Bristol and Taunton. Currently, there is one bus per day from Bridgwater to Nether Stowey at 4.40pm, the 15 service. If you time it right, walk five minutes from the station to Sainsbury’s, where you find the bus stop. Failing that, it is 8 miles (13 km) away and your best bet is to arrange a taxi/pick-up.

At the end of the trail, you can catch the 309 or 310 bus service from Castle HIll car park in Lynton to Barnstaple Bus Station. From here, it is a 10-minute walk to the railway station, which has connecting services around the UK.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    06:46
    14.7 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,775 ft
    1,825 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Stage 1 begins from the former home of Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Colereidge and explores the landscapes that inspired his finest works.

    Coleridge, who the trail is named after, lived at the cottage in Nether Stowey for three years from 1797. When Lakeland poet William Worsdworth visited, he was equally struck by the landscape and the pair launched the Romantic …

  • Difficult
    07:10
    15.2 mi
    2.1 mph
    2,425 ft
    1,700 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    An empty patchwork of pretty Exmoor countryside is yours to enjoy on this stage, which takes you to the highest village in the national park.

    With 15.2 miles (24.5 km) of distance and much more uphill that down — 2,425 feet (739 m) and 1,700 feet (518 m), respectively — this hike really raises the bar.

    You leave Williton to …

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  • Difficult
    06:31
    13.0 mi
    2.0 mph
    2,350 ft
    3,150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This larger-than-life stage takes you to the highest point in Somerset, the highest church in England, and through one of the largest ancient oak woodlands in Britain.

    To make the overall itinerary work, this stage would typically be 8.6 miles (13.8 km) long. However, with some great Highlights tantalisingly-close, it is worth following the extension shown here over Dunkery Hill …

  • Difficult
    07:33
    16.3 mi
    2.2 mph
    2,275 ft
    1,725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Breathtaking views from coastal cliffs combine with enchanting Exmoor countryside on the final stage, which takes you to the picturesque seaside village of Lynmouth.

    With 16.3 miles (26.2 km) of distance, 2,275 feet (693 m) of uphill and 1,725 feet (526 m) of downhill, this is a tough hike. If you skip the extension at the finish it shaves-off 1.3 …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    4
  • Distance
    59.2 mi
  • Duration
    28:00 h
  • Elevation
    8,800 ft8,375 ft

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Hike the Romantic poetry of the Quantocks and Exmoor — Coleridge Way