I’m conscious that my personal struggles against the weather and the inadequacy of my own two legs might have made the stretch between Minehead and Lynton sound a bit grim. Nothing could be further from the truth. The scenery (when it was visible) was stunning, the villages ridiculously picturesque and the people were kind and friendly wherever we went.
This not the Condé Nast Traveller guide; few places were particularly fancy or on-trend. But, honestly, I’ll joyfully take the ‘good honest’ type of place over somewhere self-conscious that makes me anxious I’m going to leave stains. As noted in my account of Day 2, wifi and phone signals were not particularly plentiful. In truth, this probably did me no harm, but I did want to tweet my pitiful selfie in the fog.
Where we ate & drank
The Staghunters Inn in Brendon – lovely country pub with proper home-cooked food. They have raised ham, egg & chips to an art-form. The river opposite was in full spate, and looked like it might offer a lovely walk along its banks.
[We did shame ourselves in there, though. They gave me a pint of diet Coke and Bert immediately said, ‘Is that your gin, mummy?’ H chipped in with, ‘You’re right, Bert, it’s normally gin.’ It’s only cute when you’re 3, H. Not when you’re 43.]
The Castle Inn in Porlock – smartly done-out, decent pub food and a special little playroom for kids. Playrooms may not feature in your mental image of a dream pub, but they sure do make it easier to stay out until 9pm without any major blood-letting.
The Royal Oak in Purlock – proper boozer, packed with locals when we went there on a Saturday night. Decent, affordable food, and a box of toys of the kids. See comment above with regards to my gratitude for such things these days.
Millers at the Anchor in Porlock Weir – I only sat outside, but this looked properly posh through the window. The (spiritual) home of Miller’s gin (which is my favourite gin, of all the gins), they also served me a very nice pot of tea. Stunning location.
Where we stayed
Our budget didn’t stretch to Millers at the Anchor, but we were lucky to find this place through Lastminute.com. The Lorna Doone Hotel (haven’t read the book; sounds dreadful) was clean, comfortable and incredibly welcoming. It hasn’t got any boutique hotel styling, but it’s the sort of place where everyone says hello to you and makes a fuss of your children.
What we did
Minehead, in general, is full of things to do with children, and I’m reliably informed that you can do a lot worse than buying a day pass to Butlin’s. Not being made of money, however, we gave it a miss.
H took Bert for a ride on the West Somerset Railway, and apparently beer is available on-board if that’s any sort of an incentive (pricy though). They also had a go on the funicular railway that runs between Lynmouth and Lynton. Mainly, they played on beaches and in playgrounds.
I’m in no position to provide much of a shopping guide, but I will say that there was an awesome-looking shop opposite the Lorna Doone, which appeared to sell utensils made from antlers. Sadly, it was always closed while we were there.
I got a bit more lucky in Lynton, which boasted a single, pretty awesome charity shop where I availed myself of a pair of cut-glass cocktail glasses, and the shop volunteer told me that they get ‘decent stuff because there’s loads of old people around here, and when they die, their kids just want to get rid of all everything.’ She, herself, was at least 80.
My personal highlight, though, was realising that John Arbon have a shop in Lynton. I already get their catalogue, which is essentially a selection of alpaca and wool socks in gorgeous colours, and the yarn to knit them with if you’re particularly patient. I bought these, in case you’re interested. AND the owner told me that the walking conditions will be way better in September and October, so it’s all good…
Feel free to share your Minehead – Lynton tips, so that I can be gutted I missed them!