It was a long walk but it was worth it. I had followed the old drover’s road from the beach at Porlock Weir. In times past the only way that the necessities of life could be carried to the outlying small settlements on the moor was either by pack-horse or pulled on sledges, called truckles. Their way had for centuries been blocked by a fast-flowing stream which had it’s birth on the high moor till it finally plunged into the sea at Becky falls. A total length of over forty miles as the crow flies but much further with all the twists and turns as it followed the contours of the land. This old bridge was the only crossing point. Still standing after probably hundreds of years but virtually disused; having outlasted it’s reason for being, now only serving as a mystery to any hiker who happened to come upon it in their travels.
Surrounded by dappled sunlight, I decided to rest, breathe in the cool air and enjoy the idyllic scene. I stretched out, my back propped against my rucksack on the large granite rock which formed a firm foundation for the little archway, like the roof support of some parish church nave. The only sound was of the rushing stream, each ripple and wavelet jostling it’s neighbour in the race to pass through the narrow channel. In my drowsy state I imagined I heard the sound of whinnying, snorting and shouting. The use of the whip being unnecessary as the proud little Exmoor ponies would have known the direction they were heading and the path they needed to take. Back up to their homeland to discharge the sand for the farmers to mix in with with their cloying, damp, peaty soil from which to try and wrest a few reluctant crops.
The names of those who built this stout bridge are long forgotten but the moss-lined, grass-topped, faced stones remain as testimony to their skill as they helped others to carve a life from the inhospitable region they were proud to call their home.