Shower facilities: 4/10 – 20 pences again…
Self-timer photos taken: 1 – CC, me and the giant
Novel references: Lorna Doone
Number of 1 in 4 slopes ascended and descended: 2
Number of gears tried to drive up the 25 per cent incline: 4
Number of castles we failed to find on a first attempt: 2
Number of castles closed to the public once we’d found them: 2
The story: We took a long drive along the North Devon coast, through Exmoor, all the way from Croyde to Minehead, which was breathtaking. Especially the part when we drove down a 1 in 4 slope to Lynmouth and then discovered that to get back out again would require us to climb another 1 in 4 slope out the other side. We had got well used to putting Kermit into second gear to climb hills, but this was something else. We attacked the rise in fourth, quickly changing down to third, and then second, until we thought we might start rolling backwards and I dropped Kermit into first… the only gear that had consistently failed to stay in the whole week. With one hand keeping it pushed forward, one hand on the wheel and a large intake of breath we slowly chugged and revved our way to the top.
Like I said, breathtaking.
At Minehead where we struck inland and made our way back through Somerset to Sherborne in Dorset. Our plan was to visit the two castles owned by Sir Francis Drake, but in spite of being little larger than a country market town, the signage was so contradictory we first drove and then walked around and round in circles, before we managed to track them down. And then when we did find them, they were closed. We ate cake for lunch before attempting to navigate our way out of Sherborne – an almost complete absence of roadsigns pointing out of the town made this an exciting challenge… Clearly, like the Hotel California, you could check out any time you like, but you could never leave.
Still, somehow we managed it and drove a short way south to Cerne Abbas, to camp at Giants Hill Farm. The farmer wasn’t expecting anyone to want to park up at this time of year and took ten minutes to come out to us, after his teenage grandson had gawped at us through the window for a full five minutes, picking both nostrils at the same time, without calling him over. How annoying. As soon as we parked, a cloud descended and we found ourselves camped in a thick wet mist for the night.