Off to Porlock last Friday. I first visited three years ago, and it turned out to be the start of a series of jaunts which led to my poem, 'Coleridge changes his library books', so I feel affection and gratitude towards the place. My father had never been, however, and as he is now 89 and very frail, I decided to get him down there pronto, along with my mother, my sister and Ted.
So, another chance to visit the Ship Inn, which Sam Coleridge, William Wordsworth and Robert Southey used to frequent. On the wall in what would have been the inglenook, there are a few lines of a poem composed in situ by Southey: 'Porlock! / Thou verdant vale so fair to sight / Thy lofty hill which fern and gorse embrown. / Thou waters which roll musically down, / The woody glens, the traveller with delight, / Recalls to memory.'
Then, having lunched, we moved on to the implausibly named Church of St Dubricius, with its 1,000-year-old yew tree a friend of mine once likened to Don Quixote on his horse.
It was lovely to climb up the narrow, spiral staircase to the Chapel of the High Cross once more, the warm and welcoming chantry which once served as a schoolroom and as storage for vestments, and to see the delicately detailed Harington tomb again, with its graffiti dating back to 1531.
Next stop was Porlock Weir, where I parked my parents and sister in the sun and set off with Ted along the rollercoastery coastal path to Culbone. Ideally I would have liked to have done the entire walk in my book, especially since the latter part of the route passes Ash Farm, where Coleridge was famously interrupted by a 'person on business from Porlock' whilst writing his sublime, opium-inspired poem, 'Kubla Khan' (and whom Julien Temple in his film 'Pandaemonium' rather scurrilously identifies as Wordsworth). But I didn't want to leave my parents too long, just in case, so that must wait for another day.
As it was, it was very hot and the four-mile-round trip to Culbone was quite enough for me, if not Ted. I was thankful that the route wound through cool and shady woods before descending to the valley in which the hamlet - famously inaccessible by road - and its tiny church lie.
Culbone church is reported by some parties to be the smallest in England, although this is open to fierce debate. The guidebook claims it is the complete