Day 14: Barnstaple – Border Exmoor National Park 

Wednesday, 03/05/2017
Distance: 28,7 km (17,8 mi) for a total of 342,4 km (212,8 mi)
Ascent (ca.): 710 m  (2330 ft)

Weather: Sunny start, overcast and windy by noon, clearing up again later 

Yesterday’s map studies had not only revealed the alternative route to follow but also possible places to wild pitch for the night. And from inspecting the contours I knew that there was no reason to hurry, a leisurely stroll it would be.

So I enjoyed my cooked breakfast, packed and left Barnstaple. On my way out I was interviewed by some construction workers on my whereabouts and hearing what I’m up to they were really impressed.

The weather forecast was good and the sky looked equally nice, so I decided to start in shirtsleeves and shorts to avoid the clothing faffs later on. In the wind it felt quite fresh but as soon as I was on the lee site or some rays of sunshine made it through the clouds it was pleasant.

In general I followed the Tarka Trail, signs with the otter paw were mostly easy to find, only in a few places some head-scratching and looks at the map were necessary. Still near to Barnstaple the trail ran along a small burbling stream. I like rambling along such waters, it feels like having a walking companion talking to you.

The hamlets I passed were too small to have a pub or a tea room but they all had their own church, in different states of disrepair as it seemed.

Behind Blakewell the path become rather idyllic. But when I reached the small wooden area where I had hoped to camp this proved unsuitable. So I continued being sure that something usable would turn up. In fact, the spot I then passed and where I pitched my tent was quite nice, apart from the fact that it was visible from the path with all the trees cut down. But as I haven’t met anybody before since the last farm I decided that it was unlikely to get a nightly visit.

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