Exmoor money

Exmoor tree

Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

I always knew Exmoor was a special place. Not many people go there. They think south Devon has all the attractions but Exmoor is subtle. You have to drink in the beauties slowly to really appreciate them. Whether it’s the wild lanes with trees bent over in the wind or the attractions of the moor. Pinkworthy pond and the Chains or the rugged North coast with its rocky coves and exposed cliff walks.

What has brought the place to my attention is that Exmoor now has it’s own currency. Not the Pound or the Euro but the Groat. You can trade them for special offers in some of the shops of hosteleries that nestle in the deep coombes of the countryside. Read more about it here. Exmoor Groats


The Black Venus, Challacombe, Devon

River Barle on Exmoor

Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

A delightful pub on Exmoor and ideally placed if you go walking up to Pinkery Pond. I went with D&J on a wet wintry night but there was a warm cosy welcome inside and we were soon drinking some ale and looking at the blackboard menu being careful not to bump our heads on the low beams.
We all had the home made beef and ale pie with flaky pastry. They were served with home cooked vegetables – delicious fresh leeks and carrots. There was a choice of chips or potatoes. I went for the potato option and it was a relief to have good fresh cooked food that hadn’t been messed about with. There were many temptations on the menu. As well as some good starters there was Exmoor Beast – gammon steak. The lamb shank with redcurrant sauce and rosemary looked very tempting.
For pudding I had the plum crumble with custard that went down very well with a cup of tea to finish. I heartily recommend it.

That New Place

That New Place

Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

That New Place, South molten
Morning coffee

One of my favourite places in South Molten.

There is a great coffee stall in the covered market where you can buy coffee but best of all sit and have a cup where you can properly look around at the locals and make some sketches.

Although the real place to eat is ‘That New Place’ just along the high street on an island of shops. There is a downstairs seating area for a more intimate atmosphere but I usually like sitting up at street level. They do nice coffee and cakes and things on toast. Try the cheese and tomato on toast or scrambled eggs on toast. They have a good selection of newspapers and magazines to keep you occupied. The service is very pleasant and quick. They take your order at the table so no standing around at the counter until its time to pay.

This will set up well for a Johnny Kingdom type walk up on Exmoor.

Pinkworthy pond

Pinkery pond
Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

Pinkworthy (pronounced Pinkery) pond – a short walk on Exmoor.
Birds – stonechat and buzzards.
Position – Exmoor – Challacombe – Simonsbath road – park at Goats Bridge.

Time – 2 hours.
Supplies: The Black Venus pub and stores in Challacombe.

I love this walk and I am always trying to get people to come out with me to do it when I am staying at my mother’s in North Devon. For some reason I often end up doing it in winter. Last time I went out with my brother from Belgium and it was a complete bog on top and we went up to armpits in mud. This time I was alone and it was a cold winter’s day with a bit of frost around. Never mind because you can imagine that you are Johnny Kingdom up here looking for deer. I reckoned it would be a good day for photography. I had spent the morning chopping logs so had earned my keep so to speak. I packed a thermos of hot coffee and a sandwich and set off. It was very cold so I had several layers including my new undersocks and an old quilted waistcoat that my mother found in my wardrobe.

I have been reading recently a book about Henry Williamson and Tarka the Otter. Williamson wrote that Tarka had visited Pinkworthy Pond so I was interested to see if I could see any sign of otter. I was inspired by a nature detective book set in the Lakes: Lake District Natural History Walks (Paperback) by Christopher Mitchell. I had a scout along the perimeter of the lake looking for clues but it was too cold and I didn’t have a magnifying glass so decided to leave this until another time.

Park at Goat’s Bridge – there is a little layby just after the bridge.
Turn up the track towards the Pinkery centre and follow the track up by the small river Barle. Look out for stonechats as you go up this way as I often see them and today was no exception. They appeared by the road – one perched on some twigs by the road and kept flitting around me. As you get nearer the centre look for a footpath that strikes off to the left and skirts around the centre and a wind turbine complete with information board. Set off up a hill bearing to the left to reach the river again and a style. Once through the stile we are really up on to the moor. Soon on the right you will pass some pools that in the summer are packed with frogs. Further on look out for the path veering off the right up the hill. If you carry on straight you will come to a halt and have to back track. As you climb higher, you will see the dam of Pinkworthy pond ahead. The water streams out of a tunnel and it is possible to walk through the tunnel to the lake but I have never tried it. Then through the stile at the top of the path to reach the pond or small lake that has been dammed. A good spot to take cover from the wind is down near the water outlet.

You now have a choice of different routes.
Turn left and climb up to Woodbarrow gate. It is really boggy up here but today it was frozen over so the going was good. I went through the stile at the top to the barrow and sat looking out over the moor and it really is a peaceful yet desolate area looking out over a vast plain of moors towards the sea. I sat and ate my sandwiches and drank a welcome cup of tea. The piece of malt loaf went down a treat up here. The wind was so cold that my fingers were freezing. I have these new gloves that are fingerless with mitten covers that can be velcroed back so that you can operate your camera. They are good but if you leave the mittens off your fingers freeze quickly.
After the barrow I turned left and headed down again following the wall with its windswept trees. I saw a deer along here and took some photos. Johnny Kingdom would be proud of me. The path reaches the road and you turn left to head back to the car park. I used to always walk back the same way but I quite like this diversion and it makes a good short circular walk. But there are some different ways of doing this walk so route B for the more adventurous. I shall post option B soon….