Sunday 19 August 2012


What should have been a fairly easy walk today turned out to be rather tortuous!  Sam & Emily Stables very kindly met me at the Bath Arms in Cheddar and then drove me to the start point in Wrington.  Set off from Wrington, walked past (note past!) the Butcombe Brewery - brewers of exceptionally fine ales - and then came to Copthorne Lane, clearly marked as a bridleway on the OS map.  I'd like to see someone take a horse down there! Totally overgrown with nettles, cow parsley, hawthorn and, worst of all, massive brambles!  I managed to walk alongside it in a field for a mile or so but, eventually, I had to resort to the lane. Thank goodness I had a walking stick! Using it as a machete, it took me half an hour to go the 200 yards or so until I emerged on the road.  Will certainly be phoning Somerset CC tomorrow to complain!
Then the 300 metre climb up on to the Mendip Hills.  At this stage, everything was shrouded in thick mist (warm and humid) so no decent views. Across the top (or around the side) of Black Down - again, on what is clearly marked as a bridleway - I encountered some of the worst, impassable bogs I've seen on the whole walk.  Eventually, I decided to abandon my original route and follow the rather circuitous but better marked "West Mendip Way".  At this point, the mist lifted and the sun came out.
After meeting a charming group of D of E Award youngsters, this route eventually led me to the top end of Cheddar Gorge.  This really is a striking and impressive bit of scenery - at least it is at the top end!  The further down you get, the more desecrated it is by cars and tourists.  At the bottom, in Cheddar itself, it is a horrible cesspit of commercialism, heaving with moronic tourists who seem hell-bent on blocking both road and footpaths, whilst gazing into shop windows searching for souvenirs or ice-creams!
Eventually, I managed to force my way through the crowds and make it to the Bath Arms in Cheddar Village, where I had left the minibus.  A quick coffee and a bag of crisps, then the long journey back to Ripon.  Got home at about 8.00pm.
This was the end of a 16-day stretch, starting in Mid-Wales, following Offa's Dyke to Chepstow, then over the River Severn and down to Cheddar.  I'll do a full update, post the next album of photos and do a summary of this whole stretch tomorrow!