Saturday 25th October- Bradford-on-Avon – Freshford
Me, Paddy Garcia, Mr P, Madame Citron, Smurf and Sir FX
Smurf and Sir FX on a visit from London-town, so we decided to head out for some West Country-side, choosing Bradford despite protests by PG that he is ‘forced’ to visit the Tithe Barn far too often. Definitely a pretty late start for an autumn afternoon, but we achieved the 14:22 train, heavily laden with rugby fans (Bath v Toulouse).
Milled around in Bradford for a bit (failed to find the cheese shop; the Smurf nearly broke a craft market), before heading to the Tithe Barn. Sir FX discovered interesting marks on the masonry in the porch which have escaped our previous notice (despite so many visits!). Subsequent research suggests they are protective symbols called Daisy Wheels (reliable source here).
Bit of sporting/ shopping diversion and then we were off towards Avoncliff, along the riverside rather than the canal towpath (see Gongoozling). Amusement (possibly inappropriate) provided by the unusual sight of a woman falling in a hole in a bicycle-avoiding manoeuvre gone wrong.
Truly beautiful autumn afternoon, sun shining on the sheep on the opposite bank of the river. Slippery underfoot, but arrived at Avoncliff without any hole-falling ourselves. To the Crossed Guns, where much complex ale-related deliberation was undertaken at the bar, resulting in 6% chewy Box Steam Brewery pints in the garden. Highlight of the day, possibly the weekend, or indeed the whole year, was watching a pleasingly-fat kingfisher on a nearby branch sizing up the fry, before making a flashing dive into the water and coming up with a fish. Unbeatable.
Having established that neither of the maps we’d brought with us included the vital next stretch, we set off blind. Fortunately the route under the aqueduct took us on the right side of the river and it was an easy stroll through woods and open fields into Freshford village. Another pint by a lovely open fire in the charming Inn at Freshford. Every single table was booked for the evening meal, which suggests the food is well worth returning for another time.
By now dusk was falling, so it was a quick dash to the station to flag down the train- much excitement about the concept of the request stop. Accepting we were now on a pub crawl rather than a ramble, decided to hop off at Bath and took a stroll around, admiring the Jacob’s ladders on the Abbey West Front. Town still mighty full of rugby fans, so one drink only (more ale-related dithering, resulting in pints of ‘Intrigue’) at Gascoyne Place before returning to the train.
Walk ended, as so many great walks do, at the Barleymow by Temple Meads, where we ate a hearty meal (in my case, very fast), drank more craft beer, and then parted ways, greatly satisfied by a grand afternoon out.