The Covid-19 lockdown has led to some unexpected benefits. We’ve had to change our habits for days off, so instead of travelling to interesting places on the south coast (for example), we’ve found ourselves exploring locally. We’re loving it: this is a wonderful area to explore, and because we don’t have to include travel time, we can walk for longer. So I thought I’d blog some photos from our walks. Before you ask, we’re grateful that the Government avoided setting a limit on how long one could go for exercise!
We’ve done a couple of long treks along the Samaritans Way between Moorlinch and Sutton Mallet (which has exceptional views south over the Levels) and on down to the King’s Sedgemoor Drain (which has to be one of the least-romantically named rivers, possibly beaten to last place only by the North & South Drains). Some of the bridges we’ve encountered have varied between dodgy, dangerous and unusuable, but the one across the Drain south of Sutton Mallet is as solid a structure as any footbridge can be, and affords some nice views of a straight watercourse in a flat landscape.
On our first walk there, we ventured east towards Greylake. All seemed fine by the time we got to the footbridge across the River Sowy and the neighbouring drain – but the journey across the next 15 field boundaries to the A361 was remarkable in its awfulness: either requiring one to be ten-foot tall to cross the in-tact stiles, or to balance carefully on the remnants of them, or to have cast-iron legs to resist the nettles.
On our next trip there, we headed east towards the Parchey Bridge, about a mile east of Chedzoy. This was, mostly, much more straightforward, with some lovely views of the west end of the Polden Hills near Stawell.
One of the most scenic walks was along the River Cary. We had parked in Compton Dundon (after it became clear that the Government were permitting short journeys to begin exercise), and followed the line of the river from Etsome Bridge to Pitney Steart Bridge, at the southern end of Walton Drove. There’s a naturalness to this river that’s completely absent from the drains!
We were fascinated by an old bridge (named as Park Bridge) over the River. Because of its curvature, it clearly pre-dates modern farm machinery, and appears to be marked on the OS map of 1885 (here). I suspect it’s considerably older but am not sure how to find out.
We turned away from the river at the Pitney Steart Bridge, heading north up Walton Drove, where we had a clear view of Lollard Hill, one the two hills around Compton Dundon (which we’ve nicknamed “the Dundon Dipole” – who said we’re geeks?)
The River Parrett has some attractive trails along its length; on one occasion we parked about a mile north west of Burrowbridge, and followed the line of the river until it passed under the M5. We then took a short path down to the Bridgwater-Taunton canal. I was keen to photograph the canal with the motorway bridge crossing it to give some context. However, I did not think I’d be able to take one with Joshua’s favourite vehicle in the frame (a tractor): but there it was, being transported on a flat-bed truck.
Joshua had done quite well for transport: we’d just had lunch by a level-crossing on the railway, and he was excited by the trains passing through.
There’s a lovely walk near Muchelney, along the Parrett and Yeo. I strove to get some nice riverside photos and made valiant efforts to get just the right view; so it was ironic to discover that one of the most attractive photos was taken at the start of the walk, from the road bridge west of Muchelney, where the Parrett heads towards Langport.
I think the photo from the road bridge was really only bettered by one I took near the end of the day, along the Parrett towards Muchelney.
Our most recent walk explored the area south of Stathe. We followed the path from there to the confluence of the Tone & Parrett, and then followed the Tone south beyond Athelney, before going into the low hills south of Curload. Much of this is along the East Deane way.
At Moredon we cut across the hill towards the West Sedge Moor. We could have followed the East Deane Way along the boundary between the hill and the moor, but instead took the North Drove. This turned out to be a long, straight drove, which seemed to be well used by locals. Much of the area is owned by the RSPB, and part of the soundscape was the haunting, bubbling sound of curlews on their breeding territories.
We’ve enjoyed exploring the local area so much that, even when the lockdown has fully lifted, we may continue to do so, with fewer trips further afield. Being able to walk further within the time available, combined with its being such a lovely area, makes this a very attractive possibility!