Last weekend, it seemed pretty clear that the summer of 2013 was behind us and with more grey clouds in the sky as I write this, it does seem as though the next summer is still very far away (even though we are still welcoming the mild temperatures). The fear of more rain and another soaking almost forced me to stay indoors on Saturday. I’d been wanting to get out in preparation for the big walk tomorrow… I needed to keep it going, if only for half-a-dozen miles. I also wanted to keep it local and to within the boundaries of my OS map collection and so, I decided to go on a walk up to Nyland Hill in Somerset.
This route comes direct from Walk West 3, with thanks again to the author Geoff Mullett.
If I wasn’t so lazy (it is Saturday), I’d dig out a photo to illustrate the fact that Nyland Hill is clearly visible from several other high points in the Somerset area. In the past year, I’ve been able to spot it from Crook Peak (several times), the cliffs of Cheddar Gorge and quite possibly also from as far south-west as Brent Knoll Hill. I’ve always noticed it for its 50% coverage of trees but, before finding this walk within the eBook, I didn’t know for certain what or where it was.
It starts off beside the church you can see above, which confirms that I’ve already gotten my days mixed up as I did in fact do this on SUNDAY as I remember being concerned about parking near there (church go-ers) and it was busy.
I donned my latest pair of walking gaiters for the very first time on this day, despite having owned them since the spring. There was a small risk of rain (and it did fall, very lightly) but I was right to suspect that the grass could be long and very wet. Particularly in one of the very first fields, with all of this untamed overgrowth; blatantly obstructing the footpath running diagonally across it.
This walk then led me down a lane past some rather interesting houses. I often expect to find only farmer-types living in such rural locations and the tiniest of villages and yet, if appearances are to be believed then, some residents of Rodney Stoke may be ‘better off’ than others. I passed one garden with a couple of pigs, who both came running over towards me by the fence.
Glastonbury Tor soon came in to view:
Along with several other instantly recognisable landmarks:
Walking down further lanes and Nyland Hill arrives clearly in to the picture. Fortunately, the cows were a stream away from me along this stretch but I do fear for the day when evolutions grants them the ability to leap over fences and boundaries to continue their growing ‘pursuit’ of us two-legged creatures…
It remained a relatively ‘cow-free’ walk until I got up to the hill.
I’ve smelled some very bad things on my walks and so, to walk past this sewage plant without sniffing anything; that was very welcome for a change.
The tree-half of Nyland Hill soon came in to view, before my climb began beside a farm.
…Fortunately, I wasn’t riding a horse! So, I made my way to the trig point at the very top! There was no designated footpath for this short-but-very-steep climb so I stuck close to the trees, without (it seems) being able to walk through that wooded area.
I’ll still be standing come the end of the Bovine Apocalypse…
I feel like I’ve completed some kind of local ‘Somerset Peak Challenge’ in reaching the summit of Nyland Hill. From what I can recall, there aren’t any more hills to climb here with the exception of the one in Glastonbury (which, to be fair, is a fair distance from these others). Perhaps I can now look at conquering the Cotswolds? Exmoor? Maybe even Dartmoor?
Over there lies Draycott, on the other side of the A371. I’ve walked there briefly before and I certainly intend to see more of it some time. Another walk from this same book actually features a passing route that begins in Priddy.
After a few ‘selfies’ (as above) using the trig point as a tripod, it was time to head back down the other side of the hill and to continue my walk. After all, I wasn’t quite even halfway around at this point.
Walking down another lane towards my next footpath, I passed some interesting animals beside another nearby farm.
There are several farms so close together within such a small radius… It makes me wonder how each of them survives and competes?
As I turned left to approach the designated footpath, I was struck by this rather alarming sign… The kind of sight I often hope to avoid on my solo walks!
There was a suggestion in the current issue of Walk magazine (put out by The Ramblers) that they would try to do more to ensure farmers remove bulls from any field with a pedestrian footpath running through it… I’m all for that petition! Just tell me where to sign!!
Before I could pry open that second gate (it was jammed shut so tight that a discreet entry was impossible), the herd had taken notice and a few began to make their way over. And not at a casual walking pace, either!
At first, I as brave and I decided to walk on a few yards, in preparation for imposing myself and my authority over whichever one(s) the bull might be… But then, the pace increased – particularly of that black one, which I suspect was ‘the‘ bull, based on the odd angle at which it ran…
My intended exit point was via. a stile just to the left of these three big’uns. They were also beginning to run over as I decided to turn back and jump the gate. I felt like I was the cameraman in some kind of documentary, as there was still a good thirty seconds before the black one reached the gate after my escape. It didn’t come any closer after that and I now kind of wish I’d climbed back over to taunt it, just to see what it would do, if anything.
By backtracking slightly, I consulted my OS map to discover that I could catch up with the walk further on by walking down further lanes. All I really missed out on (I hope) was a series of stream-crossings and walking through further pasture. I’m all for dying doing something you love but I don’t love these bovine killers. I don’t even eat beef!
Another mile along this 7.5 mile trek and my camera’s battery died suddenly. I neglected to take the spare with me because I new that was already flat (yes, this happens frequently in my life).
I opted to use my smartphone set up with the ‘cloudy’ white balance filter but that resulted in everything coming out a little bit too… Essex and tangerine-like!
There wasn’t really much else to share from this point onwards. Or, if there was; my phone-camera didn’t capture it well enough! But I managed to keep out of cows’ way up until the very penultimate field, where we ended up playing some kind of game (perhaps) to entertain the occupant of the hot air balloon passing overhead… As I walked along the field’s edge, they would group together and run away, before returning in a circular pattern. I only had to raise my arm’s and they’d be off again. Each time they returned, they would’ve retreated an extra 10ft. It’s the kind of experience that makes you feel like you have power, without being aggressive or overly assertive.
I returned to my van after nearly four-hours to discover that, just as with my previous pair; these gaiters weren’t brilliant at keeping my trousers dry, which is what they’re supposed to do! Maybe it’s the way I wear or fit them? Maybe it’s just a consequence of condensation. It took me a good 10 minutes to put them on and I decided to do so before leaving the house.
Next time, I think I’ll just throw my waterproof trousers on, as they’re still waiting to be broken in!
Thanks for reading and happy walking to anyone who ventures out this weekend!
- Sold on Somerset (countrylivinged.com)
- Running Up That Hill (dogoddity.wordpress.com)
- Protect the historic lines of our public rights of way (stravaigerjohn.wordpress.com)
- Cheddar Gorge (islesunite.wordpress.com)
- Cheddar gorge and the mendip monster (2be3blog.wordpress.com)
- Hoping for the best but fearing the worst (quitegifted.wordpress.com)
- Eight rules for country walks (theguardian.com)
- Strawberry Weekends Forever… (fatsandbird.com)