Saturday 9th July 2016
This was the weekend prior to my Cornwall trip. With little motivation to get up early on the Saturday, I still felt as though I should attempt something in preparation for the undulations of coastal walking to follow in seven-days’ time.
Almost a year since my first visit to Wellow, I decided I would head out there again. Mileage would not reach double-figures but, in the space of an afternoon, I’d get some exercise and might also be able to create another walk for the Bristol-based Ramblers group.
It was nearing 15.00, by the time I arrived at the free village car park.
My walk would initially follow a familiar route to the east; leaving the road beyond the horseriding centre.
Beyond the byway that took me across countryside, I dropped downhill to walk alongside the stream.
Stepping beneath the trees to cross over the shallow watercourse, I spotted these mushrooms and wondered; is it not a bit early in the year for their emergence?
I continued across a succession of bone-dry fields. Along the way, I passed a pair of women who didn’t even acknowledge my presence, as I attempted to make brief eye contact ahead of a passing hello (one woman was being very ‘arty-farty’, using her fingers to frame the landscape in a square shape…).
Soon, I climbed steeply uphill to rejoin Wellow Lane in Hinton Charterhouse… I’d forgotten how steep that section was! Good practice for the coast to come, nonetheless!
Next, would come a stretch I had not walked before and a more-direct westward route than the one I had attempted previously…
It began along a narrow grassy track. Wearing trousers on such a humid day, I wondered whether I might’ve felt more comfortable wearing shorts, even with the long grass.
Flies were buzzing but it soon opened out in to a wider track, as I approached Cleaves Wood.
At the first junction, the legal right of way wasn’t apparent. But the OS map is accurate and a left-turn, heading downhill, soon leads you to a suction of unmissable sign posts (once of which, I rescued from the overgrowth).
Crossing over a small ford and past a small group of teenagers who were out walking (DofE practice, maybe?), I joined another byway that began to climb uphill.
This path was as monotonous as the one prior to the woods. But, from such a vantage point, I could see Norton St. Philip in the distance.
Better yet – and, for the second week running on a walk – I was able to spot the Westbury White Horse, from the edge of the next field.
I would soon walk between Upper and Lower Baggeridge Farms and join another road.
At the next junction, I turned left through a gate – and briefly, away from my intended route – in the hope of finding a trig point that is clearly marked on the map… I could not see it and, presuming it had been removed or destroyed, it was only during research that evening when I learned that it was probably buried beneath a lot of grass.
Returning to the road, I was now only a short walk away from a woodland path that I had met with last year. But before I could reach that too quickly, I had to repeatedly step aside, up on to the grass verge and give way to an infrequent succession of classic cars… Whatever the stereotype may be for such drivers, I’d like to point out that each and every one of them raised their hand in appreciation for my allowing small effort in allowing them to pass without obstruction.
This bridleway, between New Plantation and Littleton Wood, had its fair share of mud but it remained passable.
My walk continued to the next road and almost down in to the heart of Stoney Littleton village, where I spotted these alpacas.
Having chosen not to walk directly up the farm drive; I followed the cycle path a short distance towards Greenacres.
I met (or, at least, tried to) a pair of timid horses ahead of crossing the wide footbridge over Wellow Brook.
I bet they would’ve loved to have been able to dive in.
From there, it was up and obvious path to then take the byway north and towards the local long barrow.
As I believe I wrote last year; the official path to and from the barrow isn’t marked on the OS map but it is clearly signed on the ground.
This was my second ever visit to Stoney Littleton Long Barrow.
There was now but a short walk back to Wellow and my car. Instead of repeating the mistake of 2016, where I fought my way through crops in the field below; I retraced my steps back on to the byway (although, the right of way isn’t signposted at this point).
Having evaded mud and water for so much of this walk, I could not believe what lay in wait, further up the track:
This was unavoidable. There was no way to squirm around the outside of each puddle and they were almost ankle deep at their worst. There was also a green tinge to the water which I disliked as much as the rest.
Gone, were my hopes of heading home with clean trousers. Although, the decision not to wear shorts had been a good one. As I returned to this familiar ford, I made an effort to rinse what I could from my footwear…
Is it tempting fate, to clean your boots the day before a walk?
It was as if summer had finally arrived in North East Somerset… All those discarded clothes, stacked up on the bollard… I’m glad I didn’t bump in to the presumably-naked people who left them there.
Elsewhere, I found one sock down at the water’s edge and the other upon greenery at the other end of the footbridge.
From there, I followed the road steeply uphill – deciding to omit the alternate footpath, where I came face to face with a snake, a year ago – and soon found my way back to the car.
A good three hours of walking and a few extra miles for my tally. I aim to return here in the autumn when, hopefully, much of the grass will have been cut and I’ll be able to find a slightly less linear route that will encourage others to follow.