Gone Fishin’

23 August 2015- Easton to Oldbury Court

Me n Paddy Garcia

Impromptu walk- not sure how long but it took three hours- inspired by extreme downpours and the search for new fishing spots. We knew we’d get wet, and we did…

IMG_2804Followed PG’s walk to work out through Easton and Eastville Park, around the boating lake. Then departed from his usual walk to continue on through Snuff Mills on the Grove Wood side, before dropping down to walk along the river through the Oldbury Court estate. How beautiful it is, ashamed I’ve never been there before.

 

We turned round at Frenchay and headed back along Repton’s Drive to the playground/ house site for a cup of tea, before following the river back, crossing over through Snuff Mills itself and back home.

IMG_2806River was in full spate- levels high, weirs with impressive flow, roaring water, not a trout to be seen, but PG felt the potential. Really lush dripping greenery, lots of wet dogs, and learnt good things about the history- Humphrey Repton (explains the well-organised paths and steps), mansion sadly vanished, long-gone mills with special boilers. Saw the local heron and wondered what it was thinking…

 

 

 

The Smallest City

14-16 August 2015- St David’s, Pembrokeshire

Me, PG, KateForceOne, Magic Dave, Mother-of-Two, Two, Slide, the Faringdon Archaeologists (x4)* and Burge (and chums)

IMG_2786The annual summer camping jaunt. Intense email-based milling preceded this trip- several weeks of correspondence resulted in no concrete plan until the days running up to departure, when a campsite satisfying strict criteria of (a) not windy and (b) not full was booked. All to no avail. Burge, forming an advance party, changed campsite the day before everyone else arrived. So we found ourselves at Porthclais- very beautiful clifftop, but, to quote a local- with a lazy wind, one that goes right through you rather than round.

After last year’s Adventures under Tarp, this year Slide had purchased two actual made-for-purpose shelters and a windbreak. When we arrived on friday, were delighted to see that Slide had managed to rig both shelters togther into a not-as-per-instructions semi-shelter. It just wouldn’t the same without some homemade tarp action.

IMG_2789We managed a fair bit of short walking. Porthclais is on the coast path, with beautiful small harbour- the medieval harbour of St David’s, so we learnt. Which probably also explains the well-worn green lane to St David’s itself, which we tramped a number of times at varying speeds. PG and I managed one early morning ramble around the coast path to visit St Non’s chapel and Holy Well. Spectacular views along the coast for miles, but possibly a bit ‘edgy’ for PG’s taste.

IMG_2783What a very charming small city St David’s is. On the Saturday night we made the trip for fish and chips. And a moonlit stroll around the grounds of the Cathedral and Bishops’ Palace- definite highlight- lurking in the dark listening to a Welsh male voice choir through the West Door, watching ladies in full traditional dress sitting in the porch and being buzzed by bats. Total magic.

 

IMG_2765We enjoyed spectacular sandcastle building, cricket and icecream at Whitesands, celebrated Magic Dave’s birthday with fruit gin, ate a vast amount of barbecued meat, and went crabbing at Porthgain. Really enjoyed this little harbour village with its derelict industrial landscape and fantastic Sloop Inn.

Otherwise chewed the fat, argued about wood (quality of), fire (smoky) and life into the night and generally arsed around. Great fun. Quotes of the holiday undoubtedly the much-loved ‘my zip’s gone crazy’ from Annabel, and ‘please god no singing’ from a desperate 3am PG. There is such a thing as too much Burgess & Slide it turns out.

Next year- we vow less milling and possibly a house, and NO TARP. eek.

IMG_2762* It turns out that actually lots of archaeologists live in Faringdon so maybe there’s something in my theory about Oxfordshire being heavily-archaeologised (The Wilderness).

The Wilderness

8-9 August 2015- the Oxfordshire Cotswolds

Me n PG

A weekend of pedestrian adventuring at long last. To Charlbury for dinner to celebrate the birthday of Prof S. It occurs to me that everyone- really everyone (except those under 18)- I know who lives in Oxfordshire is an archaeologist. I wonder what that means, and if anyone has ever mapped archaeologist habitation by county. Would be interesting to see the results.

We stayed at the ancient but newly-refurbished Woodstock Arms. Monkey wallpaper, Winston Churchill and a lacquered ceiling, quirky and good. We’d decided to stay in Woodstock and spend the afternoon walking to Charlbury, about 7 miles. Thus after a quick lunch, we headed off into the park at Blenheim.

Photo0032Whatever you think about aristocratic country houses (PG not much), Blenheim is undeniably impressive. The scale of the landscape vision is breathtaking. We walked out along the north drive- miles, I think literally, of straight avenue across the park and monument to the house. Enhanced by the slightly odd experience of the house (?fire) alarm sounding in the distance. Felt like the apocalypse and noone left but us and the sheep.

photoThen we were off along the Oxfordshire Way. Also strangely deserted, not a dog walker in sight. Many massive rolling fields of wheat and burning sunshine: we resigned ourselves to being sweatier on arrival than we intended. The route then headed through Stonesfield, followed by a final slog into Charlbury, this section accompanied by the sounds of the Wilderness festival* on the horizon. We ended at The Bull in the centre of Charlbury for a marvellous dinner.

photo(3)Fortified by a hearty breakfast, on Sunday we visited the deserted village at Hampton Gay. We parked at Shipton-on-Cherwell and took the footpath over the canal, the Cherwell and under the railway to Hampton Gay. Such a complicated and interesting bit of landscape, so many loops and routeways.

 

photo(1)
Hampton Gay was fabulous earthworks, extraordinary ruined Elizabethan manor and tiny chapel. And a sad story of a massive train crash in 1874  (34 dead and 69 injured on Christmas Eve) and the manorhouse gutted by fire in 1887.


All that done and not even eleven, we decided to keep going to Hampton Poyle, home to another small church and more earthworks. Then it was a loop back over the Cherwell to follow a track along the river, through a fantastic community woodland where we heard a squirrel cracking nuts and saw some deer in the undergrowth.

photo(2)An icecream stop at Thrupp Bridge, and back along the canal to Shipton, to tour a third and final small church, this one with colourful windows. Not a very long walk, but really lovely- a bit wild and woolly and a good slice of medieval landscape. Felt like walking two dead ends either side of the canal/ river/ railway and that’s a good thing.

 

* Discovered that the name of the festival comes from an area of managed landscape on the estate where it’s held. Thus dispelling the Cotswolds= not wild issue that was troubling PG.

 

Time past

photoWhat a very long time since I’ve posted a blog. Could be laziness- a few strolls have gone unrecorded. But could be hard work- not much walking has been accomplished really, because of time spent at the allotment. So possibly the walk I’ve done most is the one from our house to the allotment and back. Not such a bad one, and the rewards are good.

photo(4)Otherwise, what sticks in the memory is a lovely amble along a river on Exmoor (June), whilst on a fortieth-celebration camping trip. Very low mileage to time ratio as many trout to stalk. Utterly beautiful secret valley…

photo(1)June saw the mighty feat that was Team Bongo (Madam Citron and Mr P) complete the entire Cornish coastal path. Such an achievement. PG and I headed down to the border to watch them finish, and managed some extremely tiny but very interesting strolls around Rame Head, where we camped. Plymouth as a great seaport really makes sense from across the water, the headland is full of fascinating old military stuffs, fine medieval church, and we enjoyed the twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand. Easy to imagine smuggling in days of old, just out of sight of the navy round the headland. photo(5)