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Walk with the Romantic poets Back to News
Thursday 02nd September | Posted by On Foot Staff
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s words describing the sacred river Alph, running from Kubla Khan’s ‘stately pleasure-dome’ at Xanadu down to the sea, could just as easily describe the meandering rivers of west Somerset and north Devon, flowing from the wilds of Exmoor towards the Bristol Channel.
And this is no coincidence, for it was here that the lines came to the poet in a dream as he rested overnight at a farmhouse while walking between Porlock and Lynton in 1797. Upon waking in the morning, he committed the words to paper, though the poem may have been considerably longer had his thoughts not been interrupted by “a person on business from Porlock”.
The romantic landscapes that inspired Coleridge and his friends William and Dorothy Wordsworth (also great walkers) form the backbone of On Foot Holidays’ self-guided walk along the coastal fringe of Exmoor. “The Coleridge Way” now shadows his journey home from Lynton to Nether Stowey, and your route will follow sections of this trail, along with stretches of the South West Coast Path and other lovely footpaths along the wooded valleys and over the high moorlands of this stunning part of southwest England.
Walk into Lynton through the Valley of Rocks, where mountain goats scramble nimbly over the crags. This strange landscape was a favourite haunt of Coleridge, and his walks in the valley and further east provided nuggets of inspiration that led to the creation of one of his best known poems, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Also springing from these landscapes was a collaboration between Coleridge and Wordsworth which produced Lyrical Ballads in 1798, considered to be a seminal work in the English Romantic movement in literature.
Cross the bridge over Badgworthy Water (or use the ford if you prefer) at Malmsmead into ‘Doone Country’, location of Richard Doddridge Blackmore’s 1869 novel Lorna Doone.
Partially based on real events and local legends, this tale of romance, treachery and derring-do is set against the backdrop of the 17th century Monmouth Rebellion, and many of the places described in the book can be identified in the deep valleys of this part of Exmoor.
As the days grow shorter, Coastal Exmoor is our only UK holiday that is available in the colder months. With some shortened days (and good waterproofs…) you can happily hike the three and four night versions in all but the deepest depths of winter. Make the most of a hearty meal by a roaring log fire at the inns along the way, followed by curling up with a good book, of course!