Monday, 30 May 2016

We're back in Banwell, Somerset

We stayed at Cottage Farm, a pretty Caravan Club CL in
Limestone Link sign 
Banwell, Somerset, for one night last year and have returned here now for several nights as it is a lovely spot in its own right, but also handy for popping up to Bristol. It's possible that we might not be able to stay here again in the future though. Due to retirement, the Stimsons are selling up and moving on. So if any readers are interested in buying a CL campsite with house, workshops and a seven acre smallholding in North Somerset, the details are on estate agent's David James' website!

We didn't get much chance to explore locally last year so have already rectified that with a nine mile walk on Friday. Dave plotted the route by tracing footpaths on our Ordnance Survey map and printed out the relevant section. Isn't technology wonderful! We parked up in a small layby just past Banwell Garden Centre on the A371 which was handy for a footpath heading across fields towards Winscombe and Sandford cemetery. There seemed to be more little signs indicating the Butcombe Brewery Mendip Pub Trail than any other route, but we never actually saw a pub!

After strolling through Sandford, we kept heading East on a
Wild garlic carpet 
woodlandy footpath towards the ski centre and beyond towards Dinghurst. Much of the walk was through woodland of one kind or another. It varied from being cool against the mugginess of the day to be very close and stuffy, and did mean that we didn't get much in the way of long views. We did love seeing and smelling wild garlic flowers everywhere. Torbay area might be distinguished by blue bells at this time of year. North Somerset is carpeted with wild garlic. Our walk was a sort-of figure of eight with the second loop being on part of the Limestone Link route around Dolebury Warren. This 36 mile route joins the limestone of the Cotswolds to that of the Mendip Hills. We followed it for about forty minutes below Dolebury Warren before turning almost back on ourselves and climbing to return back above Dolebury. This ancient site is looked after by the National Trust and Avon Wildlife Trust and one of the highlights for us was walling across the hill and ditch remains of an Iron Age fort. It was apparently built about 500BC and, although it is not as extensive or well delineated as Maiden Castle, it still felt pretty amazing to be there.

After a complete loop of Dolebury Warren, our return
Lime kilns at Sandford Award Land 
footpath took us to Sandford Batch around the other side of Lyncombe Hill to our outward journey. It turns out that Sandford has quite a history too. In 1799, an Act of Parliament awarded land with a quarry to the Ecclesiastical Parish of Winscombe which provided stone to build and repair public roads and properties. The quarry area is now preserved as Sandford Award Land and includes these late eighteenth century Lime Kilns (like the one at Dornafield), remains of an 1860s forge furnace and the old railway track route. We were both pretty exhausted by the time we reached this point so didn't spend as much time exploring as we could have done. The area boasts a great network of footpaths though so we could easily make it a starting location for future walks. Instead, this time, we headed back to the layby and our car, pausing only in the middle of a field to unfurl our waterproofs as a sudden heavy shower tried to drench us!

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