Saturday 19th March 2016
In an effort to explore a little more of the Two Rivers Way, I spent last Saturday on another walk not too far from home (less than a thirty-minute drive).
It begins at Chew Valley Lake, where I was relieved to find that parking at the northern-most area was free – although, a new tariff (£2 per day) comes in to force from this Easter weekend.
I didn’t begin this walk until about 9.30. I’d intended to start a good half-and-hour earlier and, was on course to do so; but for a couple of driving errors where, heading south towards the lake from Winford, I decided that the sign indicating for me to turn left from Chew Stoke, was somehow wrong… Before I preceded to circumnavigate the south and eastern edges of the lake, to then eventually park at the northern point.
There were already half-a-dozen or so cars parked up. Some would be walking dogs while it looked like others may be setting up for the day.
Joining the Two Rivers Way from here was not difficult, after crossing the road. I even found a footpath (not indicated on the map) that runs parallel to the short section of road you’re apparently supposed to follow. Beyond that signpost, you can see the hills of Dundry, which I’d hope to reach for lunch.
Continuing my walk north along the River Chew and then, east, where it turns; I was first headed towards the historic village of Stanton Drew.
Being a riverside path, there were a couple of muddy pits. I passed a man with two dogs and then, no-one else for several miles. This looked like another frequently-used stretch of walking, with the footpath clearly defined in the ground ahead of me.
Heading in to Chew Magna, I noticed the clear signs of spring as I made my way over a series of footbridges.
Elsewhere in Chew Magna, there’s something highlighted, in italics, as the Tun Bridge. I wouldn’t quite pass it on this walk but I think I drove across it on the way here – at a point where I engaged in a game of ‘Chicken’ with an ignorant twat in a white Ford Escort van.
Waymarking specifically for the Two Rivers Way had disappeared by now and I had to consult my map and compass, to ensure I made the correct turn at each junction. But I was soon up on to the high-rise pavements of Chew Magna.
Commuters between Bristol and Bath may know these roads very well, while others may prefer to avoid them, for the constant rows of parked cars and 20mph speed restriction.
But the Two Rivers Way leaves all of that behind to pass up through a churchyard.
Ahead of the main building, I noticed this ancient monument, with a sign clearly warning you to keep off. It looked to be older than the church itself.
With an absence of waymarks, the walk continues along the driveway of Chew Court, where I passed a familiar-looking playing field to my right – one that involves a series of sharp turns and gear-shifting when it comes to driving by.
Then crossing over the B3130, the walk continues opposite, as you briefly regain your acquaintance with the River Chew, heading eastwards now.
I would come to cross several fields without any indication towards the Two Rivers Way. But there weren’t any other options available.
Along the way, I passed one man with a (suspected) Derbyshire accent who commented on how astonished he was that the ground had dried up so quickly. A clear sign, to me, that winter was losing it’s grip.
By now, I was walking a good 200m south of the river but parallel to it. An initially muddied bridleway leads you in to the village of Stanton Drew.
I’m sure that many people will travel to this village simply to experience the stone circles that reside here. It’s very hard not to! Especially when the walk I was doing passed right beside it.
Along with the two stone circles I would visit, there’s a third known as The Cove, which lies within the pub garden of the Druid Arms.
There is not set admission fee to enter Stanton Drew’s stone circle and nearby parking is strictly limited. But an honesty box sites beside the main entrance gate and I dutifully dropped my £1 coin in to what sounded like an empty box.
One thing I hadn’t noticed before was that dogs are prohibited from this site. Perhaps because of its history and heritage.
In the summer months, you’ll often find calves grazing here (another reason to keep the dogs out). I’ve only found them to be curious and non-threatening.
I took me about one hour to reach here from Chew Valley Lake, making it the perfect place for a cup of tea.
From the site of the great stone circle, you can cross over the adjacent field (sometimes cropped in the summer) to find a smaller stone circle, laying low enough that it can almost because lost to the long grass of June, July and August.
But the Two Rivers Way actually runs up the farm drive that divides these circles. From there, I was heading towards Pensford – the start point of my previous walk.
This part was very familiar to me, even though I’d not previously walked it in late winter or early spring.
It wasn’t long before I could again walk alongside the river. Beyond that, the spectacle of the viaduct came in to view.
I always enjoy walking beneath this great structure. This time, I noticed a sign indicating the presence of free-range goats, which was certainly new to me.
They were very timid and ran down to the riverbank in order to avoid me.
…Before cautiously following in my footsteps as I passed through the next kissing gate.
You can see how the height of the gates has been ‘increased’. I presume they’re expecting that these goats could jump very high, once fully grown.
I briefly left the Two Rivers Way here to take a left-turn along a favoured path, avoiding the church but emerging beside the appealing riverside garden of a local pub (highly recommended on a sunny day).
At this point, I would wave goodbye to the Two Rivers Way once more, to begin the Three aspect of this adventure, and an uphill climb ahead of lunch.
I’ll save that for Part 2.