Today, I feel absolutely shattered. My legs ache as they haven’t done for many weeks. My throat is making a sound that suggests I’m still half-asleep and even my head’s still about twelve-hours behind. I was intending to get out in to the workshop and to finish two boxes I’ve been making but they’ll have to wait. I need this day (thank goodness, it’s a Bank Holiday) to rest and recover. So, I’ll use my time this afternoon to write about my third walk-leading experience from yesterday.
View from Wavering Down to Crook Peak, with the end-point in sight!
If you’re interested in seeing the final route for yourself then please click here.
I’ve been walking so much lately that I haven’t been able to keep up in blogging about each and every experience. There’s a part of me that’s trying to catch up for ‘wasted time’ over the years; hiking to cover almost every square of the local landscapes. I still have two to write about from early last week and another experience with a friend from Saturday (that one involves an additional chapter on woodwork…). I’m also trying to keep this routine going because, not only am I feeling fitter and more active than ever before but, at the end of September, I’ll be walking 20-miles around the city of Bath for charity (more on that to come).
So, I’d spent the past month waiting for this day; my chance to share one of my favourite locations with a group who hopefully hadn’t seen it before. In case you haven’t read either of my posts on pre-walking this route; I basically took an online guide that I followed a year ago and doubled it with my own intervention and map-reading.
View from Crook Peak over a murky-looking Somerset.
All of the photos I took are of the final climb to Crook Peak. Someone else took a group photo of us and I hope that’ll appear on Facebook soon.
I didn’t just arrive at the meeting point on time; I was ten-minutes early! In total, six others turned up; most of which I hadn’t formally met before. It was refreshing to see new faces this time, as much as it was also a little surprising that more of my ‘followers’ didn’t turn up for this one. But then, it is the last Bank Holiday weekend of the year and many people make many plans for this occasion, before the final four months of work in the run-up to Chri… I won’t mention that word!
We set off south down the A38 and I successfully navigated my way through Bedminster to get there, which I’d never actually done before; quite often taking a wrong turn or missing one and looping back around towards the city. We took the last two spaces available at the first (of two) lay-by car park. It’s often busy here on a Sunday as it seems to be a popular destination for model aeroplane enthusiasts (they might actually be known as ‘gliders’ – we’re not talking about Airfix models, here).
Harmless inhabitants of the final hills.
We set off along the usual route through Compton Bishop, where I was delighted to pass not a single cow in any of the fields we walked through. Those two bulls I was worried about on my pre-walk? They were somewhere else! I had nothing to worry about and I even noticed another stile further up that might’ve led to a path of avoidance for this path (although, it isn’t illustrated on my OS map). We passed the quarry and I forgot to turn off through the gate and across a field to reach the road. So, instead, climbed a little way up in to King’s Wood, before descending down the bridleway and on to the junction at the A38.
It took a while for us all to cross safely here (ironically, within the village of Cross) but we were soon on our way towards Axbridge. Through two fields here, we passed herds of large cows. We passed a couple that we quite timid and began to tip-toe away as we passed but my heart stopped momentarily when I heard a rush of cows from behind – fortunately, they were only sprinting away from us but, if ever you’re in any doubt as to how fast such a large animal can more; well, they really can turn and move in an instant!!
We then had to cross the A371 (without the bulls, this was the most dangerous part of the walk), which naturally took longer than before, with seven of us in total. Different people walk at different speeds and I liken this approach to road crossing also. I would never try to force everyone to cross at the same time. It my opinion, it works far better in small groups or pairs, even. This was where we started to climb uphill and, although I doubted myself for a moment, I did lead us through and along the intended route, before we began the much harder climb.
Clear skies were forecast but neither did it rain.
I waited for everyone and warned them that this one would last about twenty-minutes; encouraging them to go at their own pace and not to concern themselves with my fast walking speed. I also added the incentive of a lunch break at the very top although, I forgot how long it really takes to walk around that quarry and to reach the grass where we eventually collapsed to relax… It must’ve added another 45 minutes and it is mostly uphill, if along slightly less of a gradient.
My group would be free from any climbing for the next 30 minutes or so and that there were only to major (but significantly shorter) climbs to come and at the end of this walk. I always forget the slight ascent up through King’s Wood, once we’d crossed back over the A38 but then, I feel that it’s only made challenging by the difficult terrain of rocks and large tree roots. We also had to give way to several mountain bikers (this is a popular location for them).
A penultimate climb led us to the trig point at the top of Wavering Down. This is where Ben took our group photo. If it wasn’t such an uncannily murky day, we could’ve taken more here, with views looking over Cheddar Reservoir and then south over the Somerset Levels. I noticed a few weeks back that in December, another member is leading an early morning and breakfast walk up to this point, which could be ‘interesting’.
After a bit of a breather, we followed the landscape down and around, with views of Compton Bishop below; to begin our final climb up to the rock-ridden summit of Crook Peak. I’m fast earning a reputation as a fast walker by people who come on my walks and yet, I don’t feel like I’m going that fast. Some of even told me that I don’t look as though I’m walking quickly and so, it could be down to my long legs… Either way, I really went for this and reached the top long before any of the other six got as far as the lower rocks. After that, it was casually downhill to the car park and we were on our way home.
Overlooking Compton Bishop, on our final march to Crook Peak.
Measuring this route on a map (or even, using a website to calculate the distance for you), it works out at close to 11 miles. But of course, you’re only looking at a 2D form that doesn’t take in to account any of the gradients. Therefore, we could easily have walked closer to 13 miles, in my opinion. Perhaps I should buy a pedometer… But I was impressed that we all managed to complete the walk in under five-hours, including a twenty-five minute stop for lunch. There was one bull (it had horns) on the route down to the cars but its nose wasn’t pierced and it was quite happy to just lie and let us pass, as were all the cows on that hill.
I made more of an effort this time to stop occasionally and to let people know what was up ahead. Well, I did it on two occasions that I can think of and one was at the start, where I gave a very brief synopsis of the walk. It is easier with a smaller group and I think I felt an encouragement within myself to ‘impress’ people I hadn’t met before. I carried the map with me until we reached Wavering Down yet, I didn’t open it up to do any more than to show other people where we were going. That’s how confident I was in walking this route (for the third time in one month) and I imagine it must’ve been quite clear for the others to see.
My group; looking like ants behind me.
So, that was my third walk and I haven’t yet determined what my fourth will be. I have an idea based around a walk that I did last Monday (which I’ll write about soon) but I could just easily try to create another 2 Booter somewhere else across the Mendip Hills. I might have to avoid Crook Peak for while though, or else I’ll have to consider renaming this blog!! 😉
Thanks for reading.