Sunday 21st September- Conham to Keynsham, and back
Me, Paddy Garcia, Burge, Kate Force One, Magic Dave, The Boy, Mother-of-Two, Mr P and The DJ
A seven-miler (+ run up) from Geoff to celebrate the birthday of Paddy Garcia, following the north bank of the Avon all the way from Conham to Keynsham, then crossing over to roam south of the river back to Beese’s Teagardens.
Departure from Easton laced with uncertainty, me being (a) in bad mood* and (b) having formulated a non-Burge-approved plan for meeting up with the DJ. However, after an unscheduled stop on Church Road and rendezvous correction by Burge we successfully crossed paths with the DJ beside the Avon at Crew’s Hole.
From there, we followed the towpath south-eastwards, beneath the Troopers Hill chimney. The river looked sluggish in the sun, with many coarse fishermen out on the banks- very different to the raging torrent we walked along in January (Searching for the South West Passage). It’s a beautiful thing how quickly this stretch morphs from light industry and residential into a wildlife corridor. Under a hour at a fairly slow pace from Church Road and we were meandering through greenery and watching buzzards on the wing.
The route headed through the grass and woods of Conham River Park until we passed under the Ring Road. Somewhere along the way we passed the memorable landmark that is the first ever pylon to feature in Pylons of the South West and happened upon possibly the best sign ever: “KEEP OUT, UNQUANTIFIABLE HAZARDS”.
Then we happened on a pub, hurrah, so it seemed only right to stop for a birthday refresher at the Old Lock and Weir. It’s a grand spot in the sun, and PG was lucky enough to receive his birthday DVD Taffin “they needed a hero, they got a one man army”**. Needless to say we are counting down the hours until there’s chance to watch it. Also sampled nice wasabi popcorn and then we were off.
The next stretch included an encounter with possibly the smallest, fluffiest cows we’d ever seen (Welsh Blacks?), and an embarrassing incident in which I confused a small drainage ditch with the mighty Avon, thus demonstrating the important lesson of thinking before speaking (me: but where’s the Avon gone? the DJ: it’s behind you). By this point, it dawned on our weary selves that we were indeed walking all the way to Keynsham, which I think it’s fair to say Burge/ Geoff hadn’t fully apprised us of.
The ex-Cadbury’s factory loomed on the horizon as we walked our way around the loop to Keynsham Lock, where we stopped for a very satisfactory picnic- spanish omelette, sandwiches, sausages, homegrown pears and a mighty double layer “moist” sponge cake. Then we crossed the bridge to wend our way past Keynsham railway station and out of town on the south side of the river.
In true Geoff style, the return route included a hair-raising run across the dual-carriageway A4. Followed in short order by a brisk walk along the back of a set of archery targets (in use: what is it with us and dangerous sports?), and a noisy stretch by the road and railway. Not long recovered from the A4, a similarly alarming crossing of the ring road (also dual-carriageway) nearly saw refusals, but we all survived unscathed, if not unrattled. A gentle climb through a field of cows and we were into the back streets of Brislington and onto Eastwood Farm Nature Reserve. A final flourish of Geoff-based milling as we lost the route before we headed straight down the main path to Beese’s Teagardens.
Glad to relax by the riverside and meet our non-walking chums. Beese’s has been serving teas since 1846 next to the Conham ferry, also still running. Amazing.
A flat stroll but an interesting one, made special by the unexpected September sunshine. Great to be by the river, although we all despaired at the rampant Himalayan Balsam. It may have entertaining explosive seed pods, but it’s a Very Bad Thing.
**he’s also “as quick with his wits as he is with his lightning fast martial arts moves.” Who else but Pierce Bronhomme….?