Between Bristol and Bath

In an effort to begin getting you back up to speed with my recent walking adventures, I’m going to start this evening by sharing an expedition that occurred before the house move. It just about covers four small villages in an 11-mile circuit between two major westcountry cities so, the title above was my most succinct way of creating a heading.

This is another one from the series of Walk West books and, as would happen, it became the final walk before my Renault Kangoo van went to the scrap yard.

They’re taking over.

It starts off in Hinton; an area I was only previously familiar with because of all the ‘Hinton Rescue’ trucks I seem to pass when driving in and around Bristol. There are limited car parking opportunities and this is one of my only gripes with Geoff Mullett’s series of walking guides. With the aid of Google StreetView, I pin-pointed a brief lay-by to the left of the common ground in the first photo. Geoff alternatively suggests you ask for permission to park at a nearby pub, aptly titled The Bull Inn, with the impending Bovine Apocalypse and all…

Actually, in all of the 11-miles here, I barely passed a single cow. This herd was beyond a gate in a private field near the start of the walk. I didn’t get close enough to look one in the eyes at any point.

This popular concept of the Selfie is one I still struggle with…

Heading south, you skirt just to the west of Dyrham Park; a local National Trust location (a rather affordable one, too) that I’ve yet to visit. It’s known for it’s fallow deer, which you can see up on the hills here.

Deer from Dyrham Park.

We were deep in to autumn by the time I set off on this one. I think it was early November. Either way, I’d arrived prepared and decided to equip my gaiters around my ankles before going any further.

So my trousers remained dry but I couldn’t say the same for my socks, which were soaked instantly upon ‘crossing’ this excessive puddle (the first of several). My Karimoor walking boots are barely a year old but they’re split and cracked near the toes and no amount of waterproofing spray is going to keep my feet dry any longer.

I’m currently torn between buying a more expensive pair of boots for 2014. Or, do I try out some of those expensive wellies and keep the current shoes (well worn in) for drier walks throughout the summer?

After crossing a few fields, you encounter a restricted view of Dyrham House. Access is only prohibited from the opposite side, along the A36 linking the M4 motorway to Bath. As I understand it, you can pay for admission solely to the grounds if old interiors aren’t your cup of tea.

You soon end up latching on to a footpath known as the Cotswold Way.

This always puzzles me because I only ever think of the Cotswolds as being further north in Gloucestershire. But again, this previous weekend, I’ve been walking near the Cotswolds in another part of Wiltshire (you’ll have to wait a while to read about that).

Muddiness continued along this stretch and even through the grassy meadow beyond, I had to tread a little carefully with each footstep.

One field had recently been ploughed, leaving clefts of mud that appeared to be as deep as my ankles. My map indicated that the right-of-way cut diagonally across…

I began by attempting to skirt around it, before realising there was a moat lying beneath the bordering grass. On a frosty morning, I know I’d have been able to stroll across the mud without any bother. But in spite of the prevalent sunshine, this walk wasn’t going to leave me with dry feet.

But hey, my trousers remained dry…

Shortly before reaching the next village of Doynton, I spotted one man’s attempt to create an ease of passage through the bog and over a stile in to the next field… If only that was much larger and not on its own!

Now, I genuinely didn’t realise this until I was driving home at the end of the walk…

“Ah, Donyton…”

I arrived at this point, greeting the village of ‘Donyton’ in my mind… It just sounds right, doesn’t it? But upon passing another sign, I noticed that it is in fact DOYNTON. I had to check both of my maps when I got home as well but it appeared as though I’d been mistaken. I’m just glad I didn’t have to ask anyone for directions!!

Spotted in a churchyard in Doynton.

Ah, yes! Now, that photo signifies the date on which I went on this walk! 😉

There was, indeed, more mud in the fields ahead.

As the countryside began to open up, I noticed a familiar line of trees on the horizon. I could be mistaken but these looked identical to a row I had seen on at least two other walks in the region.

Moving in to Wick (the third village, if I’ve not miscounted), I did cross through a field with cows grazing to one side. But they kept to theirs just as I stayed on mine.

Here, I was trying to capture the cobwebs sparkling beneath the sunlight.

Just after that, I came across a restricted quarry.

There were signs up, warning people not only to keep out but also not to take up on the opportunity to swim here. It reminded me of a story on the local news, earlier this year… It might have been at a quarry in Wiltshire, but they deliberately coloured the water to deter ‘adventurous’ people who aren’t aware of the contaminations. Having not read ahead on this walk, I was feeling a bit disappointed at this time, as I’d been hoping for greater views of the rocks and the quarry…

Oh, I do like jam (and bad punctuation)!

Through a gate and downhill following a lane, I came across this inviting sign for me to help myself to two fruits I’d never even heard of before. I’ve now set it upon myself (with the advice of a friend) to have a go at turning this in to something spreadable. I started off with two of the big fruits and four of the smaller, without wishing to be greedy. But before I new it, I ended up taking half a bag full with me!! It’s still sat on my kitchen worktop as I write this.

The next stage involved passing through the quarry itself, which was a little unnerving, even on a Sunday.

A footpath is brief but clearly marked for safe passage through the site. On the day I visited, it was like a ghost town with no-one in sight. On a weekday, you’re advised that you may have to wait during times when blasting is in operation. I don’t know whether they’d really expect you to wear a hi-vis though…

It’s not long before you’re back amongst the countryside with coat-wearing horses ready to greet your arrival.

You soon find yourself following a footpath through the Golden Valley Nature Reserve.

A divine space that was a joy to discover. This was beyond the halfway point but I decided to settle down for lunch on top of a large rock. With a little tinkering of the route and its start points, this could make a great group walk some day. Although, preferably in the summer!

I continued uphill and out of the woods, where you’re presented with a pair of kissing gates.

Geoff’s instructions don’t make it perfectly clear as to which one you’re supposed to follow. But I can tell you now that they lead you to the same point. The one on the left is a more gradual decline  towards the route ahead. On the right, you have a downhill slide (not ideal in wet conditions) that seats you in to a position with the desired view overlooking the quarry that I’d been hoping for.

“Paradise Lost” – Wick Quarry.

I stayed long enough to take a dozen photos and I remember also filming a short Keek of the scenery.

But with several miles still to go on my return route north, I had to keep moving.

I’m at a loss now to remember exactly where the route from here, other than to tell you that I was basically heading north.

I think that was the same church I passed earlier in Doynton.

I remember following a river for the last couple of miles; leap-frogging it on occasion…

Further ahead, I think there was a field where I had to negotiate an electric fence with no clear passage or right-of-way. Not to mention the horrendous mud-puddle shortly before!

It was about 3pm during this final stretch back to the car. As the autumn sun began to set, a chill began to takeover.

After arriving home, I took this photo to signify the large mud patch on my trousers. Clearly, I’d slipped over at some point but only the once!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and, as I said in my previous post; I have several more walks that I need to update you on. I’m impressed by how much I could remember, approximately six-weeks on, but what’s most astounding, to me, is that I’ve been able to type this entire post whilst wearing a pair of gloves! All that implies is that I have a lot to share about the flat I’m now living in and in good time. 😉

Thank you.

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