From the Sublime to the Rather Lovely.
Just over a week after my freezing adventures in the Mountains of South Wales, I found myself cold again but on two of the flattest walks possible.
Our walks along ‘The Mendip Ring’ have reached the flat land between the Mendips and the Blackdown Hills. The ‘levels’ are marine clay flatlands close to the coast, inland the soil is peaty and these are the ‘moors’. This stage starts in Rodney Stoke and crosses the Moors to Westhay Nature reserve. We walked the route over two days.
On Saturday 24th three of us started our walk by the church in Rodney Stoke. It was cold but the sun was shining and the sky was blue and cloudless. The route took us to the banks of the young River Axe, we walked alongside as it wriggled about, collecting litter and trying to identify footprints in the mud as we went. It was very relaxing and very easy walking. We had big views as the empty fields are separated by ditches, called rhynes, leaving nothing to get in the way of the sky. We paused for a snack on a convenient bench complete with daffodils before starting the ascent between two small hill crossing the old ‘strawberry line’ railway to arrive at Westbury Sub Mendip just 120 feet higher. The sun had warmed the frozen ground allowing the top inch or so of soil to thaw and become sticky and slippery, although only a very slight slope it was the most difficult walking of the day.
At the top of the slope
Leaving the Mendip Ring we headed back towards Rodney Stoke. Up off the moors we were amongst hedgerows sprinkled with primroses and celandines, unfortunately the muck spreader in the next field overwhelmed any fragrance they might have held.
The circular route was 6 miles long and 121 feet of ascent in total.
Sunday was colder and sunnier. Again three of us were walking, myself and two different companions. We started from Westbury sub Mendip, leaving the car in an industrial estate, hoping it would not be in the way on a Sunday. We were quickly into fields, glad of the frost, we would have been a lot slower if it had not hardened the mud for us. We crossed the Axe, even more junior than yesterday and joined a road.
Today’s walk saw a lot of road work, and straight roads too. The romans had been here but the straightness is because the roads follow the rhynes. Fortunately the roads were very quiet and any cars could be seen coming from some way back. On the smooth tarmac we made good time and very quickly got to the footbridge leading us back onto grass.
Two fields later we were climbing our only hill for the day. All of 34 feet, but steep. Over the top we sat in the shelter of some thorn bushes and sat down to eat lunch and contemplate the view across green flat fields to the A39 on the ridge that is the Polden Hills, some miles away.
Snacks on the Hill.
We rejoined tarmac and walked on the roads, shocked at the amount of rubbish which had been dumped along the side of this tiny quiet lane, some way from any town, until we turned off to walk along a track to Westhay Nature Reserve where our walk ended. The sun had brought people out and the reserve was busy, deservedly so. I have put a return visit to look at the hides and information boards on my to do list. We had left a car here earlier in the morning and drove home. 6 miles and 34 feet of ascent.