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Chris and Nicholas above Lynton
The Two Moors Way: coast to coast
Never one to shirk a challenge, weekend walker Chris Grimshaw decided to tackle the the 102 mile Two Moors Way coast to coast walk. Here we publish his account of the walk which he undertook with his son Nicholas.
I can’t quite remember when the idea of walking the Two Moors Way became a serious possibility, let alone a probability. I think it was somewhere between trying to keep fit in retirement and having a look at the potential of walking in Devon.
In any event there was no conscious decision at first; it sort of crept up behind me, whispering quietly in the background that there was a challenge that was more than an afternoon on Dartmoor.
I had become used to the occasional walk over the moor, mostly from those found in the Ordnance Land Ranger series and a host of other books readily available in the High Street retailers and more particularly in the National Park and tourist information offices.
I found myself going onto the internet and very slowly finding out a little bit more about the walk on each visit. I suppose the catalyst came when I ordered the book, The Two Moors Way, and found that there was a Two Moors Way Association and some helpful background material, not least of which was a list of accommodation along the way.
The Two Moors Way is a challenging route
Once I had the book in my hand and was able to see the maps and route things started to move along at a bit of a pace until I finally made the announcement over the dinner table that I would like to walk the Two Moors Way in the summer of 2006.
I think I dropped this into the conversation in about autumn 2005 in order to give my wife, Wendy, time to get used to the idea, or more particularly to give time for us all to forget about it, if I 'chickened out' along the way.
Wendy would not want to come on such an expedition, her idea of a walk being one with retail either side of her and a shopping bag in each hand. Then and only then, she can quite happily walk for hours on end with little sign of tiredness.
The thought of not just one, but two moors was a complete anathema; one that she was quite happy to indulge me in, putting it down to an early onset of eccentricity on my part.
I was all geared up to undertake this expedition on my own, when our son, Nicholas asked if he could join me for one of the days.
I'm not sure whether this was out of a desire to walk the path with his father, or to see what had possessed him to take on such an adventure with no previous signs of mental instability? Curiosity overtook him quite quickly and within a week of the offer, he had signed up for the whole 102 miles.
As he had to be back for work on a Saturday, it meant that the walk would have to be completed in six days, rather than the seven that seemed to be the recommended journey time.
Exeter library was another good source of information although slightly disconcerting was the apparent by-law in North Devon that allowed bulls to be kept in fields through which a public footpath ran, whilst in South Devon this barbaric practice seemed to be outlawed. There could be a few fields in north Devon that would be crossed in double quick time.
With Nicholas away at university, it fell to me to book the accommodation and not wanting to leave too much to chance, I set off one early spring morning to Lynmouth and worked my way back through the villages that we would pass, calling at guest houses and making the arrangements as I went. I returned home with all six venues booked.
Now, most people and all the books expect you to walk from Ivybridge in a northerly direction to Lynmouth. We were going to do it the other way round and end up at Ivybridge, on account of the fact that living in South Devon, it seemed psychologically better to be walking home and also I had always harboured the illusion that when walking from north to south, I must be walking downhill as that’s the way the earth slopes.
It was just after this that BBC Radio Devon announced one morning as I was waking, that the Two Moors Way was being extended to become a coast to coast path by taking in the stretch from Ivybridge down to Wembury on the South Coast. “Splat, bling and bother,” crossed my mind as I had just booked up all the accommodation and this extra day’s walk would render it impossible to finish the feat and allow Nicholas back to work on the Saturday.
A strategic decision was made to pick up this last leg on another occasion.
last updated: 20/11/07