Tuesday 30th December 2014- Winford- Dundry, Somerset
Me, Paddy Garcia, Kate Force One, Magic Dave and Burge
Inspired by the previous day’s walk (The Hoarfrost), we rambled again, loosely deciding on the Dundry area, and me settling on Winford as a starting point. Some degree of vehicle-based milling, resulting in unanticipated tour of the nether regions of Hartcliffe/ Withywood. Accompanied by intense verbal milling, centering on a complex loop of actor/ film confusion. It turns out that Toby Jones is not Jason Watkins, only one of them is in the Hunger Games, and that neither (possibly inexplicably) has yet played Batman.
No guidebook to follow, but Winford is blessed with many footpaths, so we parked the trusty steed by the church and headed out of the village eastwards, under the aqueduct, to join the Monarch’s Way. This, we discovered, is a long distance path from Worcester to Shoreham following Charles II’s escape route after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. It took him six weeks to cover the 600-odd miles apparently.
The Monarch’s Way headed due north, up a very long and fairly tough climb towards Dundry. We sweated in the sunshine. PG lost faith in my mapreading abilities early on and took over half way up (when did I stop being the navigator? Not sure I like it). The slog itself was through fairly featureless pasture fields, but the view back south was worth it from the top, an extensive sweep across the Chew Valley, the reservoir and way down into Somerset.
After a quick chocolate and nut break, we carried on across the top to Castle Farm. Right on the edge of the Dundry ridge, we then enjoyed amazing views north and west (farm name no accident we guess)- we could see the Clifton Suspension Bridge, right round past Long Ashton, then way over to both Severn bridges and over the Barrow reservoirs.
We then turned eastwards along a lane, past lots of horse paddocks and small-holdings. At this point, Burge was pleased to recognise that we were on the route of a previously-completed Geoff walk- talk of yesterday’s new guidebook had not been going down well. PG electrocuted at this juncture by fence inappropriately blocking footpath, eek.
The route followed the contour for some way, then we began cutting downhill. We crossed an extremely large field with two solitary freeranging pigs- not something you see often- and thoughts turned to food, so we stopped below Elton Farm for brief snacks.
After some debate about whether we could manage to complete our intended route before dark, we decided to soldier on rather than shortcut*. Down through rolling fields, many with horses, and over many, many stiles and fences, electric or otherwise. Felt like hard work.
Then we were into Bitham’s Wood and onto the valley bottom along lanes and footpaths. Very interesting history of gunpowder mills strung out along the stream here at Littleton and Powdermill Farm. This valley was a major manufacturing centre during the Civil War and key historic buildings survive. Then it was past the mossy-looking Kentshare Farm and back into the outskirts of Winford, accompanied by the slightly confusing but not unappealing odour of the Chinese cafe on the main road.
Final duck under the aqueduct (built, we learned, in 1851 and the earliest surviving example of engineering of its type, still supplying Bristol with water today), past the imposing Court Farm (built 1593) and we were back at the Church. Quick hop into the centre of the village to visit the Prince of Waterloo for a relaxing drink. Truly magnificent pub cat- enormous, friendly and totally in control of the establishment.
Overall, a good 5 miler. Some hard slog, but worth it for the inspiring views in multiple directions. Alarmingly fascinating to be under the flightpath of Bristol airport and see planes so close overhead. Didn’t enjoy the local obsession with over-fencing- the landscape felt slightly too tidy for me, and our hips are too old for an obstacle course- but otherwise very satisfactory. Must find out more about the very interesting gunpowder mills and the slightly Napoleonic overtones in Winford!
* Not allowing KFO to finish her apple. Burge is a hard taskmaster, as previously observed (Banjo!)