Snowdrop Valley, Wheddon Cross, Exmoor
During the month of February, there is a fabulous display of Snowdrops in a tucked away valley in the middle of Exmoor.
Despite growing up in North Devon, I had never been to Snowdrop Valley. When I saw it featured in the February edition of Country Walking Magazine, I decided it was a must-visit.
The magazine suggested a 13.5 km/ 8.5 mile walk which incorporated nearby Dunkery Beacon, which is the highest point on Exmoor. On a dry, sunny day this would be a fabulous walk, with stunning, far-reaching views.
However, on the day we went, it was raining quite heavily and was as we got out of the car at Wheddon Cross, it started to sleet. Dunkery Beacon was not even visible, which considering it is less than two miles away, was not a good sign.
Greg parked in the car park and the first thing I did was slip on my bottom on a muddy bank. That was before I had put my waterproof trousers on, so that was a great start!
We decided to take the bus down to Snowdrop Valley. This only runs during February and cost £5 per person for a return trip. The road to the Valley is very narrow and is closed to walkers during February, so the only other option is walk down through the fields.
Having seen the mud in the car park and guessed that this would probably be a lot worse on the footpaths to get to the Valley, we opted for the bus journey.
Snowdrop Valley has its own micro climate and the weather was much better down there than it was at the top. Although it was cold, it had at least stopped raining.
The Valley itself is only about a mile as a circular route.
More muddy paths!
Today was much more about Greg taking photographs than it was about walking very far. We walked around the Valley twice, once to look for photographic spots and the second time to actually take photos.
Greg got some lovely shots.
The snowdrops had blossomed early because of the mild, damp weather. They were already starting to droop over, so they probably will not be around much longer.
We spent a good couple of hours there, by which time I was getting cold and was ready for a cup of tea. The buses run every twenty minutes, so we caught the next one back. The return journey is very pretty as it takes you right the way down through the valley and back up to Wheddon Cross in a circular journey.
From the car park, we drove up to the car park at Dunkery Bridge, with a view to having our lunch and walking up to Dunkery Beacon. However it was still sleeting and the Beacon was still not visible, which is should have been at that height, so we went for a drive over the ridge and took some pictures from the other side, looking back towards Dunkery Beacon.
By this time it was after 3pm and I really was ready for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Unfortunately the Exmoor House Hotel closed for afternoon tea at 3pm as they had to prepare for dinner, so we went to the local village hall and enjoyed a very welcome mug of tea and a large slice of delicious, home-made chocolate cake, as provided by the local WI (Women’s Institute).
The original plan had been to stay to watch the sunset, but, with thick, overcast cloud along with rain and sleet, it was obvious there was not going to be a visible sunset, so we headed for home.
It was a long journey as it was nearly 200 miles each way, however it was worth it.
Amanda and Greg