I forget what prompted us to tackle England's longest National Trail as 630 miles is a seriously long distance to walk. We've completed a number of 5-8 day treks before (up to 100 miles), but the SWCP is in a different league. I think it was the hike (pardon the pun) in challenge which made it attractive to us. Less a holiday, more a sabbatical to see what a summer of tramping is like.
There was a good deal of planning, pouring over maps, reading books, finding dog friendly accommodation, buying ultralight camping gear, etc. So much so, we were in a nervous frenzy come the start, pretty confident that it would be a great adventure, but apprehensive in case it didn't work out to be as enjoyable as we'd hoped.
We took the train from Winchester to Taunton via Reading, and then a bus to Minehead. All went smoothly. Good start. We opted to stay the night before at the Old Ship Aground pub to soak up some of the town atmosphere and to have a relaxed start. Worked famously. After a bit of early morning filming at the impressive path start sculpture, we were off! Backpacks felt heavy. A concern actually as we knew we had many, many steep hills to climb.
It's a shame the SWCP doesn't spend longer in Somerset as you get started with a few hills, impressive coastal views, nice woodland, and then before you know it, you're entering Devon. Saying that, we're glad it does start at Minehead. It starts you off on the right footing and we enjoyed it.