The map is a dense mass of paths, but it appeared that we were walking up Ley Combe. Eventually we came out of the trees and, where the track divided, turned to the left, coming out on to the open moorland of Doverhay Down. From here there were grand views over Porlock Bay.
As the path wound ever downwards, the sunlight scattered itself through the branches of the old oaks.
At 1013 feet above sea level, Stoke Pero church lays claim to being the highest place of worship in England. With two testing ascents behind us, we wouldn’t quarrel with that. The church has a Saxon saddleback tower and was mentioned in the Domesday Book, but it was considerably restored by the Aclands in the late 1800’s. A donkey called Zulu hauled up the wood required from Porlock twice a day, and is commemorated inside the church in a drawing by Hope Bourne, the Withypool writer.
The Ship Inn, known as the “Top Ship” to distinguish it from the “Bottom Ship” at nearby Porlock Weir, can be found at the western end of Porlock’s main street. It is a long, rambling building which dates from the thirteenth century. As you enter from the street, the bar is on your left, a snug little room with a high counter at the far end. Otter, Exmoor Ale, and Exmoor Stag were all on tap and, after an energetic morning, we treated ourselves to two pints each of the divine Stag. At £2.80 a pint, it was cheaper than in some Exmoor hostelries. Not surprisingly on a Sunday morning, the bar was pretty crowded, mainly with local shooting dog fanciers, and so we moved back into a long room opposite which appeared to be an overflow area for the bar and the restaurant.