Not ‘Ashton’ Court…

Apparently, some parts of the UK are in receipt of some of the worst weather we’ve had for three decades… In my part of the south-west (more like the westcountry), I can say that I haven’t yet seem any uprooted trees or car-embedded buildings. I have heard tragic news of a small number of deaths further east and people in Bristol have suffered power loss and shortages but I feel inclined to say we’ve seen the worst now.

I’ve had one of those rare weekends where I didn’t go for a walk anywhere. Nope, not even locally and we cancelled plans to go out on Sunday with all the severe weather warnings. So, I thought this might be a nice time to reflect on my second walk from last week where, on Wednesday, I continued my search for autumn with a trip to Oldbury Court to the north of Bristol.

It was only a year ago that I even learned of this place through the word of mouth from a former work colleague. Even then, I didn’t know the name. Well, until a friend of mine shared details of her own adventure around the estate. I arranged to meet up with this same friend on Wednesday, as we don’t get to see each other too often and she also happened to have some spare time.

This place is situated in Fishponds and only a heavy stone’s throw away from the M32 motorway. If not for an aerial view or map, you could drive through the town completely unaware of the beautiful scenery hidden beyond the tarmac and concrete.

I regularly drive past signs for Ashton Court, Aldwick Court and probably others too but I’ve never seen one that directs you to Oldbury Court. Even the road leading to the main car park is largely residential. Parking is free, by the way so, if you’re in the area, you’re left with less of a reason not to visit!

A river and trees are the main theme of this estate. From the Frenchay end, you can follow the River Frome all the way through, past Snuff Mills and on through Eastville Park.

There’s also a regular selection of ducks! This year, I notice signs to announce the return of otters to the area but, I’m sorry to say, I didn’t spot a single one (another reason to return, perhaps).

Last time I came here, I got as far as Snuff Mills at the other end (it’s not a long walk for anyone who enjoys climbing hills) before the dark clouds cast overhead and then, down came the rain! Lots of it, too! So, instead of going on further to explore, I turned around, squelching with each footstep, on my return to the van.

But this time and, with a friend who suggested she might know the way, we were bold as we marched on alongside the river to Eastville Park. We were actually hoping to reach an area known as Purdown (if you’ve seen the large yellow house just off the M32, you’ll know where I mean) but neither of us was too sure by the time we reached the town.

We noticed two squirrels on our return route through the park, up and away from the duck-filled waters. It’s so rare to see even one that doesn’t dash for the nearest tree as soon as you open your senses. Throughout this part, you could distinctly hear the howl of the M32 motorway but it wasn’t enough to detract fully from the beauty of our surroundings.

We returned through Oldbury Court more-or-less following the same route from which we arrived (options for a diversion are somewhat limited). I suddenly remember having to give way to so many cyclists on this day. You will often find them along riverside walks. It’s great that they have access to such space but, for a walker, I find the repetition of having to stop or just step aside can make this leisurely stroll feel more like an endurance.

We were almost back at the car park by the time I took the photo above. Some say we’re experiencing a late autumn after a rather successful summer (which was preceded by an elongated winter). That might explain why so many of the trees remain green, except for their fallen leaves.

Branches belonging to one tree near the entrance almost closely resembled the effects of a winter frost.

We met up and started in the mid-to-late afternoon and it was close to 17.30 by the time we returned to our cars. That low-lying sun, so ‘early’ in the day, made me realise again how ‘careful’ I’m going to have to be now when venturing out for solo walks through the winter. I’ll always carry a torch, just in case.

That’s Bristol’s Oldbury Court in a miniature nutshell. Well worthy of an afternoon or early morning visit. It makes me wonder what other ‘secrets’ our cities may have to offer…

To see all of my photos from this album on Flickr, please follow this link.

Thanks for reading.

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