Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Birthday Ramble

I did say at the start of this year that I’d be making more of an effort to update this blog with more ‘generalised’ content from my life in order to fill the voids where I’m unable to spend much time in the workshop. Today presents to the perfect opportunity to tell you about a walk I’ve been on with friends. Not only has this been Easter Sunday but it’s also been a day of celebration for my 28th birthday!

View of Cheddar from Pavey’s Lookout Tower.

I think that I’ll spend some time this evening simply writing about the walk and the day itself. Presents, gifts and cards can come in another post tomorrow, or else this post could easily end up twice its length!

My attempt to capture a facon(?), high in the sky on the outskirts of Cheddar.

My day began when I woke up early this morning, less of one-hour’s sleep (thanks to the commencement of British Summer Time) and with the symptoms of a common cold in my nose and throat. Actually, my day started around midnight when I was texting my closest friend in anticipation of opening her hand-made gifts but, I’ll show you more of that tomorrow! As I was getting ready, I questioned whether I was really up for doing this walk, with ice on my windscreen and frost on the ground. But, as I arrived in Bristol to pick up my friend (and her daughter), I realised that she was only in a similar state of sickness. We were supposed to be joined by at least one other but they had to cancel having caught a bug of their own.

We headed down the A38 and parked up at Burrington Combe; a road I frequently travelled on the way to Interesting Timbers… I’ve also been walking on this part of the Mendip Hills many times before. For my friend, this was a ‘pre-walk’ for the Brunel Walking Group. We’re both members (that’s how we met) and she’s looking to lead on this route in the near future. We started by climbing high up on to what I would refer to as the ‘wrong’ side of the combe, towards Blagdon. I’d only previously been on the other side (near Black Down) and it was one of the steepest inclines I’ve ever had to face but, at least we got it out of the way in the immediate beginning. Then, we made our way following paths over the top of the cliff (with views toward Blagdon Lake) before descending downhill and crossing the road to the the other side of the combe, near Burrington Ham.

I forget many of the details about where we went and what we passed but we were basically on our way towards Cheddar Gorge (I’m sure you’ve heard of the cheese, wherever you are). We covered many miles that I’d not seen before and all beneath clear blue skies and sunshine. If not for the cold breeze of this lazy winter, it could’ve been T-shirt weather. There was an area just before the gorge that I forget the name of but we passed a large cliff known as Black Rock and, although I’ve walked through Cheddar before, this was new to me. My friend’s map-reading skills were without flaw. I know from experience that it’s not easy, thinking back to a time last year where I spent two hours walking down the A37 towards the small city of Wells… That’s what I like about being in a group though; you can trust in someone else lead the way!

Black Rock

After crossing another road (deep within the gorge), the path ahead became familiar to me as one I had covered on my own last year. We eventually made it up to the top of the south of the cliffs, where we enjoyed a bit of an Easter/Birthday picnic, with hot-crossed buns, cake and I was introduced to the Latvian tradition of egg rolling on this day. It was so calm and quiet up there. I was surprised that I couldn’t get a 3G signal in order to read any of the Facebook birthday wishes that had been buzzing through my phone all morning but, this was a time to put modern technology to one side.

Up on the cliffs of Cheddar Gorge.

After our rest, we began to descend towards Pavey’s Lookout Tower, which is situated near the top of Jacob’s Ladder. I’m glad that my friend’s daughter took a liking to me. She is honestly ‘The Chattiest Person in the World‘ (as her mother warned me days earlier) and I think I made a mistake in bringing Easter cakes to the picnic; with all that sugar, she soon grabbed my hand and had me running down the rest of the hill after her, until we reached the tower! What would it be like to be eight-years old again… You fall over and hurt yourself, having to walk with a limp while experiencing the worst pain you’ve ever known… But then, you find the energy to go running on ahead!!

We went down Jacob’s Ladder (I’ve never walked up it), up through the village and crossed the road before climbing the other side of the gorge along a different path for the return journey home. This return walk (on a circular route) seemed to last only a fraction of the time it took us to get to Cheddar. With one hour, we were back on a track near Black Down that I recognised from my own treks across these hills. Before we got too far down, we stopped on the dry grass to have a rest and to finish the rest of the cake, which was made to feed 8-to-10 people… There were three of us, including one child and so, my second slice ended up being a near full-quarter of the entire recipe! Again, it was nice to be able to sit out amongst nature on such a sunny day. Not for too long though, or else the cold wind does begin to cut through you and I had removed my fleece and gloves by this time.

…Gorge Goats!

Returning to the car, we realised we’d been gone for a good six-hours and, as I returned my friends to their home in Bristol, I was persuaded by the daughter to join them at a local park, where we would complete another Latvian Easter tradition (apparently) in swinging on the swings! Soon after, it was time to say thank you, goodbye and to head home. Both of us adults were tired and in need of relaxation, just as the daughter’s battery levels were beginning to rise again! I hope she sleeps well tonight and gives her mum some peace!! 🙂

One of the best birthday’s I’ve had for a long time. I don’t drink alcohol and I’m not one for recklessly making a fool of myself or going over the top with these things… I enjoy walking and being outdoors as much as I love to be able to create things in my workshop. To be able to share that with friends makes it extra special.

I did take a few other photos and, if you’d like to see them all, please click here.

Happy Birthday to me and I hope you’ve had a good Easter. Thank you for reading.

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9 responses to “Birthday Ramble

  1. billlattpa 01/04/2013 at 01:04

    Love the photo of Black Rock!

  2. Kathy Pelly 01/04/2013 at 09:51

    Happy Birthday Olly for yesterday. Must clean off my walking boots and explore North Somerset!

    • Olly Parry-Jones 01/04/2013 at 11:05

      Thank you, Kathy!

      There’s lots to see and you can find loads of walks to download for free as well. I recommend Ebbor Gorge and Crook Peak along with Cheddar Gorge. There’s a book called 8 Wild Walks Across the Mendip Hills that has other ideas as well.

      There are a few places around Bristol that are free to enter and also worth seeing, including, Ashton Court, Oldbury Court and Blaise Castle.

      Did you get my e-mail last week?

  3. Jeff Branch 01/04/2013 at 14:35

    Happy belated birthday!

  4. ashley 01/04/2013 at 20:34

    Happy birthday olly Its good to do something you enjoy with someone that you enjoy being with.
    Ashley

  5. Pingback: The Mendip Hills | Olly Writes

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