After my ‘rest day’ yesterday, I was back out walking again this morning. I always try and aim to get going a little earlier each time but, as is usual by now, I didn’t arrive at the car park for this one until 11.25, which gave me five-minutes to change my shoes and set off ‘on time’. I was able to find this space without printing out a driving map and taking that with me. For the last few weeks, I’ve been more concerned with my walking routes. Studying Google Maps for some time really does help and I feel confident enough to trust my memory with the drives there (getting back is always easy). Again, the Street View allows you to see many things up close before you leave, including any notable ‘land marks’ that you can use to identify un-marked turnings and road junctions and, on this occasion, I was able to spot the bridleway I needed to find at the beginning of the walk.
From there, I was able to use a small map for the rest of the walk, which came as part of a book I bought recently. 8 Wild Walks Across the Mendip Hills was only £5 from a local book shop last week (first time I’d been in there and I feel good having done that) and it provides you with enough detail to find your way around (it’s a lot better than the AA map I struggled with a fortnight ago, anyway…).
Today, I set off to Bleadon Hill near Weston-super-Mare.
It was difficult to define where I actually was at times although, I may’ve been able to help this by adding a compass and a larger OS map for the area to my arsenal. This walk begins with a descent down Bleadon Hill, past or through Shiplate Slait (I feel like I passed it blindly), then across and up another hill, before crossing the road and walking along a third hill, before returning to the un-manned car park. There were no obvious markers to say exactly which hill I was on at times but, I didn’t deviate too far from the given route, which was reassuring.I
I started taking photos of the usual things, including more views of Brent Knoll Hill, which I visited a few weeks ago (I feel like I’m obsessed with that place!) but, to be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t feel that there was anything as ‘notable’ on this walk as I have found at other destinations. It was still very foggy when I arrived and I was wearing a coat to keep the chill off during the first half-hour. Following the bridle way, I stood to one side and gave way to a horse with a friendly rider who asked if I was afraid with horses (?!?). I noticed then that the ground was quite boggy in places but, that was nothing compared to what I would face when a path crossing several farms.
For the first couple of hundred yards and, through the initial fields, it was fine and very manageable. It wasn’t until I reached the last two gates though, fearing that I’d missed the exit mentioned at this point in my guide book, that I realised I should’ve worn my wellies! Someone had kindly left some wooden slats on the ground, which helped me to reach the large five-bar gate and climb that while keeping my ankles dry (sod using the pedestrian gate) but, by the time I reach the next large gate (leading in to the farm yard), it was already up to my ankles. I kept looking for a passage through the bushes but, I could see a farmer active in my yard. I ended up with mud and water filling both shoes and, this wasn’t for the first time, either.
Next time I follow a path that includes walks across farmland, I am definitely wearing my wellies, however uncomfortable they may be for this sort of journey!!!
I do suffer a bit with my walking boots. After three years of comfort, I recently found that the insole in the right boot keeps sliding out behind the heel, meaning that my big toe (and others) ends up very sore and often wet (where the boot now leaks as well). I can’t see why this is happening but, the new pair (once I get them) should help. I have actually replaced the old insoles with brand-new, extra-thick ones but, they haven’t made a difference. I either have to walk through the pain or, stop very frequently to adjust.
I’m grateful that farmers do open up their land for pedestrians to use and, on this walk, the path actually continues through the farmer’ yard, which may sounds intimidating but, in my experience, you’re always fine as long as you stick to the path and respect the land.
Then, I made my way up Hellenge Hill, again, feeling as though there was nothing much to report. It felt more ‘Mendips-like‘ than the other in its scene and appearance though, which was nice, as I huffed and puffed my way up towards the road. While passing another farmland, I realised I had deviated from the route a bit but still, remained on the public footpaths. I dithered briefly and almost contemplated walking through a field with ponies (the blonde one tried to bite me, as I stroked it!!) but still found my way. The path continued, rather oddly, up, through and across the near-by golf course (by now, I’d crossed the same road I parked on at the beginning). They don’t mention this in the description but, it looks like the way you’re meant to go, following the walk along through the woods (south of Hutton Hill), before making a sharp right turn at the end and returning to the car park through the combe.
One thing that does disappoint me a little with this walking guide is that each of the walks is fairly short. I mean, I walk at an average rate of just over three-miles-per-hour. Some of these walks are only one-hour to ninety-minutes long. I’ll may need to consider packing two in to a single day to make them worthwhile, as travelling time can be as much as thirty-minutes each way.
Now, I’m looking forward to two days off work and, tomorrow morning, I’m heading off to Bath to do a walk around or, with a view to, the skyline. I hope it’s not too foggy! This six-mile walk is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while. As I discovered in April, Bath is a beautiful city and, again, I’m wishing I had someone to share this with because I think I will enjoy it. I’ll try to squeeze another walk in to Tuesday as well, since the forecast looks good.
To see all of the photos from this day out, please click here.