I absolutely love my little car. It belonged to lil’sis when she was a banker, then my father bought it off her when her MS meant driving was complicated, and then when I came back from New York I bought it off him. Whilst I love its nippiness, tape deck and generable convertible awesome-ness, it does have one downside: because it’s fifteen years old it has no aircon. (I’m not going to mention the dents. Or the leaking roof. Or the lichen in the joins.)
On 30C+ days like last Thursday (the hottest day of the year so far), I had a choice of either roof down and broiling like a piece of bacon on a griddle, or roof up and boiling inside like a lobster in a pot. Red faced and sweaty either way.
The usual route to travel from Woolacombe on the North Devon coast to North London is to take the A361 towards Barnstaple, and hit the M5 motorway near Taunton all the way back to London. The entire journey takes just under four and a half hours.
On the way down, we broke the journey at Laura and Ian’s cottage near Taunton, but on the way back I decided to add another forty minutes to the journey and cross over the top of Exmoor.
I’ve never visited Exmoor before but, from walking the North York Moors, know that I have an affinity for those wide open spaces, where there is no activity bar the birds wheeling in the sky, and the sheep quietly cropping the grass. I didn’t know if the journey would be actually across the Moor but anything was better than sweating down an A road in my little car.
And I wasn’t disappointed. The first part of the drive towards Lynton and Lymnouth wove through high hedged country lanes and bosky wooded turns. Lynmouth turned out to be a lovely coastal village, which feels almost totally cut off from, well, anywhere. If I hadn’t had a dinner engagement in London, I would have stopped for lunch and explored some more.
As it was I pressed on, and was rewarded as I drove up the coastal road just outside the village to be rewarded with glimpes of the most incredible views over the sea. I pulled over, and crossed the road for a closer look.
I’ve never seen such a view in England before. It’s just as lovely as anything in Big Sur. We English are historically far too reticent about singing the praises of our own glorious natural wonders.)
I continued my drive on through Exmoor, with the roof down, and the wind in my hair, travelling on narrow roads cut through wide open expanses of moorland. Eventually I hit the small resort town of Minehead, and then got on the M5 at Bridgwater in Somerset.
Euf and then a vile overheated drive back to London on the motorway. Anyway, I highly recommend the detour over Exmoor: a wonderful opportunity to see some of our wonderful English countryside, which almost makes up for the slog into London.