Porlock Pilgrim’s Trail – 29 miles long, or can be walked in two loops, each 15 miles long and both starting in Porlock, or as shorter day walks. 1, 2 or 3 days.
Exmoor is a wonderful place for walking. High moorland leads into ancient oak woodlands and down to grassy slopes which, for generations, have been cropped short by Exmoor Horn sheep. Dotted across the landscape are villages and hamlets and, in them, small churches and tiny chapels.
The Porlock Pilgrim’s Trail takes walkers to the nine churches and chapels of the Porlock Benefice. The paths travelled have been walked and ridden by clergy and parishioners for hundreds of years – indeed the path from Stoke Pero to Luccombe is called Priest’s Way. On the Trail walkers stand in some beautiful old buildings, walk across a moorland and pasture and through woodland. With a little luck, a lark’s song will accompany you across the moor or, perhaps, a herd of red deer or Exmoor ponies – all events that enrich the journey. The hills are occasionally steep but never too long and the view from the top of the climb always makes it worth the effort.
Just as the scenery varies throughout the Trail, so do the places it visited. Two are impressive parish churches, another a tin tabernacle and one is England’s smallest parish church. Oare’s church is famous for its Lorna Doone connection and Stoke Pero’s for being the oldest, remotest and highest church on Exmoor. Tivington and Lynch’s chapels are little-known gems (even by locals) while Selworthy’s lime-washed All Saints is visible for miles around.
The Trail guidebook gives a full route descriptions and links to three free to download .gpx files that cover all the routes described in the Guidebook (more accurate than that displayed in the Google map below. The book also includes historical descriptions of each of the nine churches and chapels to enable pilgrims to get the most from your visit.
It is planned to have a Pilgrim’s Trail ink stamp in each church and chapel which can be used, in the Guidebook, to record one’s walking progress and take home proof of your achievement.