Over the weekend, I managed to achieve two complete walks. While my blog may have appeared slightly dry and light in regular content lately, the recurrence of spring is luring me back in to a regular routine of walking.
Today, I’ll write about Saturday’s walk and, in another post, I’ll tell you about Sunday’s.
Saturday was a return to a childhood-favourite in Goblin Combe. But not for either nostalgia value or to witness the emerging spring season… This was in preparation for a walk I’ll be leading with the Ramblers next month.
That walk will begin in Congresbury, a few miles west of where I live. For the sake of convenience and to save a few pounds on petrol, I set off on-foot from my front door, heading straight towards the River Yeo, which will actually be the ‘final chapter’ on the day.
For the most part, this stretch was easily accessible and dry enough to walk along without wellies. But there were two sequential fields, just east of Iwood, which were quite boggy and waterlogged… They’re most frequently littered with cows throughout the year but a passing dog walker told me they’d been covered with silage… Whatever the cause, I’ll investigate the area again before the big day just in case I need to include a diversion to my current route.
At the other end of the river, where it meets the A370, we’ll be heading north, from the car park and up in to the woods of the Congresbury Estate. Along the way, I braved a field full young bulls before passing a large flock of lambs, who are far, far less intimidating.
Even at this point (ten minutes in to the real walk), some of the views down to the Mendip Hills were just stunning.
For an uphill route, the path ahead can prove to be testing but only in short bursts. Every few hundred yards, you’re rewarded with a level patch to follow before the gradient increases again and, so on.
This stretch was much drier than when I last followed it (downhill) in November. It turns to a solid road or track, before that meets Cleeve Hill Road (where I recently played a game of ‘Chicken’ with blue Audi, during a drive home from work…). Almost directly crossing over, I take an unfamiliar path across farmland, with views of the clifftop destination ahead, which will become the ideal lunch stop.
Heading in to the woods of Goblin Combe from the south corner, I followed a clear-cut path in a direction that my compass told me was identical to the guide on my map…
I could recall having walked this particular path once before, coming from the other direction. If I was to follow it too far, I knew that I would end up looping back on myself… It’s a path that isn’t clearly charted on the OS maps. To spot the path you’re supposed to follow, you have to very carefully judge the distance from the nearest boundary fence (in practice, I could see I was far too close and not even part way down in to the valley).
To overcome this (after much hesitation and a bit of back-tracking), I decided to follow the dry-stone wall (apparently once shattered by a fallen tree) down hill and on to the intended path, which is much firmer under foot. At the bottom, I’m greeted by familiar steps that would otherwise offer a sharp, ascending shortcut to the path ahead.
In the event that the weather turns against us, I have a backup plan for reasonable shelter. Although, the fact remains that in my two-years of walking leading (that’s eight walks in total), I’ve been very fortunate with the weather we’ve received.
On the old settlement known as Cleeve Toot stands this shelter, which I have always presumed is a feature for childrens’ activities – in fact, in successive walks through here, I have now passed two separate groups of kids being introduced to the outdoors.
Another fifteen minutes and we’ll reach the clifftop viewpoint:
I spent most of my rest here deciding upon which might be the most efficient and interesting return route, taking in to account the fact that we’ll be heading for the River Yeo on the day.
I’d thought about taking a long detour and down and through the centre of Wrington village but, in the event that the riverside fields haven’t dried up, that would only result in excessive road walking, along narrow ground that can become bustled with traffic.
So, I’ve made a decision that’s almost entirely downhill walking (after the initial stint). It’s clear, direct and, should the need arise to cut a few corners on the river walk, there’s an appeasing route that branches off to the west (to be safe and assured, I will pre-walk this short stretch very soon).
Hopefully this provides an insight in to what the walk will be like and my sense of thinking towards organising the route. I’m pleased to say it’s one I’ve crafted myself, where I would otherwise usually ‘borrow’ an idea from another source. I look forward to sharing this nine-mile adventure with a group of people who are possibly unaware of the area.
Thanks for reading!