Sunday 20th November 2016
Another weekend and yet another November walk, with the route taken directly from one of the Walk West eBooks.
This one lead me to a non-Cotswold corner of Gloucestershire, in the village of Apperley… No, I’d not heard of it either but, the village hall was easy to find and offered plenty of parking spaces.
It had been a long drive up the M5 motorway. Over an hour in total, as I recall. Another one of those days where I’d been hesitant over doing anything, or continuing to do nothing at all…
From the rear of the car park, I made my way along a series of paths, following field boundaries and Geoff’s text with no trouble at all. I never seem to encounter gas line markers on my walks but they were hard to avoid, in the initial stages of this outing.
It wasn’t long – perhaps less than half-an-hour before I arrived in Deerhurst. Soon after passing this Tudor-style barn near Abbot’s Court Farm.
I took a brief diversion to explore the exterior of St. Mary’s Priory Church, close to what would’ve once been Deerhurst Priory.
This wasn’t mentioned in the church description but there are signs directing you around to the rear of the church and towards the ‘angel’…
Look up, where the signs direct you and you’ll find its remains, carved in to the stone wall. Sadly, I’ve not been able to discover any further information on this via the internet.
Back around the front of the church and there was a much smaller door a short distance away from the main entrance. It also appears to have its own doorbell.
I found it interesting, to observe the different stones, their shapes and formations, across the external walls.
Before returning to the road, I spotted this small angel on the wall to my left. There was no sign but it was unmistakable, nonetheless.
Outside, I passed through the substantial floodgates – I’d like to mention that I did these walk only hours before heavy rainfall hit many parts of the UK… More on that in my next post.
Car parking charges here were extremely reasonable and ticket-free. There was even a large bucket for you to deposit your change.
Moving on and I had to pass through this gate before continuing my walk. A little confusing and even deterring, at first (‘Keep Out’). But the ‘Wildlife Sensitive Area’ map clearly shows the definitive path… I guess what the other sign should really say is ‘Private Fishing Only’ and ‘Please Stick to the Footpath’.
Beyond this tree with a ‘fairy door’ cut in to the base of its trunk by nature, I would join the Severn Way long-distance footpath.
From here, I would follow the high bank of the River Severn southwards for several miles. Soon passing a sailing club across the water.
This was probably only the second time I had walked a portion of the Severn Way. My first experience was three years ago and my first (partially failed) attempt at the Severn Estuary walk.
…Which isn’t entirely accurate, as I did follow it for a couple of extra miles during my time in Shropshire in August, when I visited Ironbridge for a day.
I generally detest canal walks with their two-paths but enjoy riverside walks, devoid of impatient cyclists.
I find it to be a comforting experience, when you’re simply following the course of a river. You’ve no need to check your map as frequently. Even when the river’s out of sight, the way forward usually remains clear. A few stretches were slightly muddy but there was no need for wellington boots.
I only recently became aware of this when I checked but, the Severn Way path officially starts near the centre of Bristol. I’d previously assumed it was at Severn Beach. If I ever attempt to walk a larger portion of it, I know now that an ‘uncomfortable’ experience through Avonmouth awaits.
There was a desirable pub garden opposite the Coal House Inn. Reserved for patrons only and close to all visitors, on the day I walked past (presumably, due to the weather).
Just beyond that was a small caravan park. I’m not sure whether it was for holiday makers or permanent residence but each van was raised several feet above the ground, which I would assume is a form of flood defence
I wonder how high the river level rose, that evening?
A little further on, I encountered perhaps the only stile on this path that was not accompanied by a waymark. Someone before me had (possibly) held the initiative to place the splinter of wood on top, directing the way.
Somewhere west of my location, I could see a ‘clean’ hill with a neat clump of trees on the very top. I likened very much to the image of Kelston Round Hill near Bath.
My riverside walk was then briefly interrupted by Haw Bridge, which I need to cross over before I could continue. At the western end of this bridge, there is a pub on either side of the river.
My view of the river began to fade, as the walk continued across clear and open fields.
Somewhere along the way, I had to encounter a large herd of cattle:
I remember questioning why they were still ‘out’ at this time of year. Some of them had horns but there was plenty of room for us both. Still, I had to meander carefully away from and in between them, as one or two were far too stubborn to consider stepping aside from the footpath.
Shortly before I would leave its side, the River Severn returned to my view.
There were a couple of sluice gate crossing before I passed the remains of a former canal; once, one of the shortest in Britain. In places like this, you can begin to imagine how this network of waterways might’ve once been used. Long before the introduction of road vehicles.
Leaving the riverside near Fletcher’s Leap, I turned north to follow the road. From here, Geoff soon directs you to turn right through a farm gate – confusingly, it’s the metal gate on the left. It wasn’t so much the fly-tipping that put me off but Geoff’s ‘discouraging’ suggestion that navigation of yard at Greyhill Farm ahead may not be easy (‘approach with caution’, I remember reading…).
Since I had discovered two church angels and briefly explored Odda’s Chapel, I felt as if I was entitled to bypass the farm and follow the road up to the same point.
Again, I could see that clump of trees upon the as-yet unidentified mound.
It took a moment for me to find the bridleway across the road junction and that was partly because the sign had been dislodged and discarded to one side. I think I have since reported this.
This path began to climb uphill slightly, in the direction of Apperley Court. Away in the distance, I think these were the Malvern Hills, as the Welsh Black Mountains would’ve been further on and to the south-west.
I simply followed the waymark across the field, here, but it looks as though Geoff actually directs you on another path towards a close navigation of the main house.
So, I was now back in Apperley and walking the quiet roads en-route to my car.
There’s a duck pond at the heart of a village, with a cross nearby, adorned with bright red poppies (this was November, remember).
A fairly short walk for a drive of more than one-hour that led me close too Tewkesbury. But one I had definitely enjoyed and would always recommend.