A walk along the River Yeo in North Somerset has been on the cards for as long as I’ve lived in Wrington. It quite literally is on my doorstep! After four-months of gazing up at the overcast skies, I decided, two-weeks ago, that I would set out and see it all for myself.
This is a walk that begins in my current village of Wrington but sets off to explore much of the perhaps lesser-known local area.
This is one that I’m pleased to say I devised by myself. It was set to last a single afternoon and to comprise of no hills… Yet, only one of those statements turned out to be true and, I can promise you, I stayed clear of the Mendips!
So, beginning to the north-side of the village’s church, you continue down a dead-end residential road and keep an eye out for a discreet but signed footpath that sneaks between two houses. Beyond there, you can go ahead for a traffic-free bypass to the road leading in to Congresbury or, head left and you’ll encounter an expanse of fields; one after the other on the way to the river.
I quite often come across gates that are un-openenable, or at least seemingly easier to climb than struggle with. If more landowners were prepared to make little additions like this then, it would certainly be very welcome!
Although late morning by the time I got going, the day wasn’t clear enough for a view of the Mendips without interference.
In my right hand, I carried an Ordnance Survey map for the area but this route appeared to be so well set-out with all the waymarking, I decided to keep the map tucked out of sight and to simply keep following the arrows.
But even after finding my way around the tree above, I came up against this stone structure just beyond. There was a metal gate to its left but due to an excessive overgrowth of sharp and prickly things, I decided it was not the way to go and so, I had to get the map out again!
Back-tracing my way out of this field, I noticed a waymark pointing down to the right, which implied that I was supposed to keep to the left of the hedge I’d cut through… This began to make perfect sense and I was soon on my way along the river.
You know you’ve reached the River Yeo from here when you’re proceeding over the vastly substantial footbridge, as seen above.
A passing glimpse of Iwood Manor. And a swan.
Iwood is a tiny little place somewhere between Wrington and Congresbury. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to pronounce it but, if you frequent the B3133 from the A370 to the A38 then you might well have driven past many times without even spotting it.
West along the River Yeo – Iwood to Congresbury.
Seeing the name Iwood always reminds me of this video from Steve Ramsey.
I had to pass a couple of cows through this first field. A daunting prospect so early on but it was nothing compared to what would follow a little further along the river.
It was spring time and, in the natural world, this is a time when you’re very likely to see an abundance of fresh-faced ‘baby’ animals wherever you decide to stroll. Calves in the previous field and lambs in the subsequent stretches to follow. Again, I was naturally cautious, as I know mothers can be very protective of their young (a good reason to steer clear when you’re otherwise in tow of a dog).
Most sheep will run away at the first sound of my footsteps. I don’t know if it’s because this was the 1st of April or what but they all began to follow me!
Across two fields. I wasn’t sure whether I was being ushered or if they were just expecting ‘man’ to feed them (as I said, it was beyond breakfast time by now).
I passed a couple of dog walkers in the vacant fields ahead, just beyond the Congresbury Weir footbridge. If my memory serves me right, you can continue the walk from either side of the river at this point but I stuck to the right (north-side), drawing closer to the village.
Just ahead of that, I was rather delighted to find this kissing gate which had clearly been hung upside-down! You can see that the bottom rail is much thicker than the top, for one.
After passing the eyesore that was the construction of new homes so close to the south side of the river, it was on to the impressive Millennium Bridge, which you can spy from the A370.
Here, I crossed over and crossed the B3133 straight on to Broad Street. I had two intentions for this walk… One was to discover the footpath following River Yeo in to Congresbury; the other was to stop in to Country Innovation to buy myself a walking pole!
Just around the corner, you’ll find the village church and, leaving the yard by a discreet path through a low wall, you can find an escape that leads you around and on to the Strawberry Line.
It’s not a path to follow on a wet winter’s day. At least, until someone’s cut back much of the hedge-growth to the left! It was nice to have some distance from the cows, though!
From here on, I was heading in to unknown territory.
The Strawberry Line is a route that’s never appealed to me for walking.
I’ve trekked segments of it further south but the terrain remains the same, in as much as you can see above. It’s certainly convenient for local dog owners. One day, I’ll get myself a bike and I’ll follow the entire route. Maybe one winter, it’ll be so wet outside that this path will suddenly offer me the greatest sense of appeal for a day out…
A typical moorland landscape.
Anyway, I followed it south on this occasion for only a few hundred yards in the beginning of my search for Puxton Moor. In truth, I could’ve crossed straight over here but I liked what I could see on my map and I wanted to explore.
I didn’t have to walk far before my next encounter with animals. But before I could stop a take some better photos of these beautiful horses(?), I was interrupted by a pair of barking dogs, as I crossed over the stile beside the truck you can see.
After passing a field of quiet, coated horses, I was soon reliving the role of the Pied Piper… But with sheep on my heels and not a mouse to be seen or heard!
As I prepared to leave that long stretch, another flock began to join me from a gate left open to the adjacent field!
Further on, I made it on to Puxton Moor, where I was greeted by this rather uninviting sign on the entrance gate…
It looked as though it may’ve been in a state of neglect but I’m trusting the old gate was set down here as a drier means of crossing the initial stretch on to the moor.
Following my map, it looked as though I should’ve been able to cross the rhyne (left) about here but there was no footbridge to be seen.
I spent another while walking the perimeter of this area, looking for another way of crossing, but only finding the track that had led me on to this land. From all sides, the rhyne looked a little too wide to jump. I was uncertain of its depth and also, of what I would or would not find on the other side (ie. the risk of having to jump back again).
I may question the Avon Wildlife Trust about this. I’m quite certain I was in the right place, as a parallel track could be seen to my left (over the rhyne) and this married up to my map.
Puxton Church, across Puxton Moor.
So, I was preparing myself to back-track about half a mile so that I could restart my journey south along that other track. But less than halfway up, I spotted another open gate to my west. There was no indication of a footpath here but I think some these areas are regarded as ‘open spaces’… So, I took a chance and eventually made it all the way to the road that would lead me south towards Sandford and Churchill.
It must’ve been a good 2 miles down this long and tiring road. From what I could see on my map, there was no other way to get directly to where I wanted to go.
But while my feet began to ache, my eyes were not complaining.
I remember passing an orchard around the point where the Strawberry Line carries on. Soon, there were plantations of trees on each side of the road.
After leaving that road, I headed east towards Churchill, intending to follow a track north that would eventually lead me through the local golf course on the way home. I’m not a golfer; I just thought it might be nice to visit!
Despite some confusion over the route in which I was looking to follow, I did regain my bearings, only to find that the path ahead was flooded. Not only was there water blocking the way but the mud (at either side) was ankle deep. On this day and for me, it was impassable.
Beginning to tire now, I turned back and walked slightly further east in to Churchill, before taking a left-turn up Duck Street and continuing in to the wooded combe above.
Fortunately, this route steered clear of any excess water and I soon had the green of the golf course in my sights.
Upon entering the course via the public stile, I spotted a trio of golfers. I heard one of them exclaim “What the bloody hell is that?!” while looking in my direction… I can’t be certain he was referring to me, with my hair a mess and a katana-like stick standing over my shoulder (I even think I recognised him) but the man in the pink jumper with the unashamedly-whitened was kind enough to say hello… In an excessively high-sounding voice!
There was no waymarker to point my path across the green so I had to guesstimate it, based on my map (head left towards the pond but turn right and cross someway before reaching it…). In spite of all I had hoped to see, the one single photo I took from my through-jaunt is the one you see above!
This walk was going on far longer than I’d planned by now. What I’d intending to be a ‘3 hour, afternoon stroll’ was already beyond 5 hours of walking. But the route ahead looked simple, as I marched in search of a crossing towards the eastern end of the B3133, which would take me back in to Wrington.
This eventually lead me on to a familiar road junction with a sign for a bed and breakfast. I know of this because it’s only across the road from one of my favourite short-walking routes around the village, which takes you past Stepstones Farm along a private road with no vehicular access.
Wrington and home!
That just about concludes this one. Having just this morning measured it out for the first time, it appears as though I covered a good 12½ miles in those six hours, without accounting for the extra distance in backtracking to find new routes.
But within hours of buying myself my first walking stick, I realised only a mile from home that I’d lost the rubber foot and shroud that sits on the business end! I lost count of the number of stiles I climbed over, only to feel that shroud tug against the wooden rail… I distinctly remember hearing something hit the floor but, somehow, I decided to not to turn around and carried on…
Rest assured that I’ve since bought myself some spares (they seem to be a universal fit, regardless of brand) and, having re-established how the stick fits on to my backpack, I can confidently say that, after 21 miles across the Quantocks yesterday, I haven’t lost anything more! 🙂
Thnaks for reading and happy hiking!