Down Memory Lane at Severn View

The weather forecast for today suggests there will be rain after lunch so Lynnie is reluctant to head out for a walk, instead opting to stay in the caravan with a good book.  A bit of wet weather will not stop me from heading out.  Apart from thunderstorms I am comfortable walking in most weather conditions, but avoid woodland when there are very strong winds.

So with lunch packed in my rucksack I head off with Crosby for a walk which will take me to the original Severn Bridge.  I have no intention of walking across the bridge, although that is possible, I don’t think my poor head for heights would stand it.  However, I aim to revisit a spot that Lynnie and I went to about forty years ago,

Leaving the site I turn right and walk along the lane to the crossroads.  I go straight across on The Naite heading towards Oldbury on Severn.  

At a junction I turn right into Chapel Street and continue through the village with the Rhine, the term they use for drainage ditches in this area, to my left.

On reaching a junction by the War Memorial I turn left into Church Lane and pass the Community Shop which is doing a brisk trade in drinks at the outside tables.  This is the route of cycle way 41 on the National Cycle Network.  This 120 mile cycle way connects Bristol with Gloucester, Stratford-on-Avon and Rugby.  There are plenty of cyclists stopping for refreshments today.  Soon after I reach the Anchor Inn and there are folk waiting outside for the doors to open.  

At a junction in the road I keep left and head up Church Hill to pass Oldbury-on-Severn primary school.  The school dates back to 1854 when it was built from public subscriptions and a government grant.  It is good to see a thriving village school, all too often these days they get subsumed into larger units and lose the benefits of small school teaching.

Just after the school the road bends to the right but I take a bridleway to the left, Stocks Lane, this initially goes besides the Rectory and then at a fork in the lane I go to the right, still on Stocks Lane, which is now a grassy track.

The lane crosses a minor road and continues along another grassy track to reach another minor road where I turn right and walk along Stock Hill soon passing Stock Farm.  On reaching a footpath on the left I go through a metal gate and walk south across a pasture field with Sacks Hill to my left.

To my right is a fine view of the Severn Bridge.

I reach a gate and go through to enter Wood Well Meadows Local Nature Reserve.  Apparently the two fields that form this nature reserve have never had any pesticides or fertiliser used on them so it is an abundance of wild flowers.  After being in private ownership for many years and cared for as a wildlife meadow, it is now owned by Aust Parish Council.   They plan to improve the fencing and graze cattle on it in the late summer and autumn thereby maintaining the biodiversity.

The grass in the meadow is long at the moment but there is a clear path which I follow to a kissing gate.  Now I follow a footpath alongside a paddock and then go across stiles through further paddocks and then over a stile by a metal gate onto a lane where I turn right and walk a short distance to a minor road.  Here I carry straight on to soon pass the Water Treatment Works and then continue on to reach the B4461 Redhill Lane where I turn right and then almost immediately left into Elberton Road.  After passing through the village I come to a driveway leading to the church of St John the Evangelist.

The spire on the church dates to the 14th century but most of the rest of the building was rebuilt in 1858.  I find a bench beneath a tree and decide this is as good a spot as any to stop for lunch.  I am not at all religious but often avail myself of a bench in a churchyard on my walks.  It is usually a tranquil spot to sit and observe the wildlife. 

Refreshed from lunch, both Crosby and I are topped up with water so we head off again back to the minor road and turn left along the Elberton Road and follow this to reach Olveston. At a junction in the village I turn right and join Aust Road.  This heads downhill and passes a parking area where I spot a battered milestone besides the road.  It is difficult to read but it is 10 miles from it’s unreadable destination.

I continue on past the entrance to the Harnhill Landfill site.  This site was originally a quarry and then became a landfill site which is now used for biomes generation producing power for the national grid.  I turn left off Aust Road into Ingst Road.  This is a narrow lane passing Priestpool Farm and Box Bush Farm before crossing the M48.

After crossing the motorway the lane leads into Ingst where soon after passing Old Manor Farm I take a footpath on the right.  The path goes over a stile and enters a field and then quickly through a gate into a field of rough pasture.  I am grateful for the OS Map app on my phone because the path is not immediately clear but soon joins a track.  Nearing the end of a field the track continues on, but I take a poorly marked path on the right into a field and head for a footbridge over a drainage ditch.  I am now in a meadow which I cross to reach another footbridge over a drainage ditch.

The footpath follows the edge of an arable field and then heads across the corner of the field on a diagonal path to reach a farm track.  I cross the track and head across another arable field.  The rain that was forecast has arrived and it is a constant drizzle and looks well set in.

I go over a stile and join a lane where I turn left.  The M48 is just the other side of the fence as I walk along the lane and pass a parking area.  The lane then continues on into Aust where I pass houses to reach the Boars Head pub.

I follow the road through the village and pass an old petrol station.

I stay with the road past the village church and then reach the Village Hall at a junction of a road.  I always think the size of a village hall reflects on the number of active members within a community.  Village meetings in this hall must be cosy affairs.

I now cross the A403 with care to take a path through trees which leads me to a road which I cross and then follow the Severn Way signs on an access road to the Severn Services.  I stay with the Severn Way markers to cross the M48.  From here you get a good impression of the scale of the suspension towers on the bridge.

The Severn Way path now leads away from the new service area, which was opened in 1999 and in 2019 voted the worst motorway service station in the Country.  I soon emerge on the site of the old Severn View Services, it is a nearly forty years since I visited here with Lynnie on our first holiday away together in South Wales.  The services were opened in 1966 by Top Rank.  It was a spot where travellers stopped to take in the view  of the bridge.  With the advent of the second river crossing and the diversion of the M4 the main service area moved and the old building was sold and is currently owned by Brightside Insurance which was founded by Aaron Banks.  I will resist commenting on this individual and the role he has played in recent British politics for fear of making a defamatory statement.

I follow the footpath to the wall which is on the edge of Aust Cliff.  I am a man with vertigo, so cliffs are not an area I feel comfortable.  However I was determined to revisit this spot, in a photo album I have a picture of Lynnie sat on this wall nearly forty years ago. 

The Severn Bridge was opened in 1966 and took three years to build.  It replaced what was previously a ferry crossing between Aust Cliff and Beachley Peninsula.  Construction of the bridge cost £8m and was recovered through toll charges.  Originally it carried the M4, but in 1996 the second crossing, The Prince of Wales Bridge, opened and the M4 was diverted.  This old bridge now carries the M48.

I now follow the way markers leading along the top of Aust Cliff, thankfully the edge is well away and protected by undergrowth.  On reaching a pasture field I start to descend and I am soon down on an embankment besides the River Severn looking back at the bridge.

There is no protection from the rain besides the river, but it is at my back as I head along the Severn Way.

The route is very easy to follow.  I stay on the embankment through a couple of herds of cattle, who show no interest in us whatsoever.  In the far distance is Oldbury Nuclear Power Station.  The path cuts inland slightly around the Littleton Pill and then continues on to Oldury Pill where the Thornbury Sailing Club is located.  

After crossing Oldbury Pill I continue on to reach the lane which serves the sailing club.  Here I turn right and walk back into Oldbury on Severn.  In the village I turn left and pass the community shop.

and then on reaching the War Memorial continue straight on into Camp Road and stay with this lane as it leads through houses and then becomes a grass track.

There are a number of footpaths off this track which I ignore, then at a fork I go right and continue on to reach a minor road where I turn right and then at the crossroads turn left into The Naite and walk the short distance back to Golden Valley House CL.

I have had a cracking walk, a bit more road walking than I would normally choose, but it has been on quiet lanes and I have only seen a handful of cars.  Visiting the Severn View brought back many happy memories. I have covered 15 miles and for the last couple of hours it has been raining.  So I hang up my jacket and dry Crosby before planning tomorrow’s walk.

You can view this 14.5 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here (Subscription to OS Maps Required)

To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer OL167 Thornbury, Dursley & Yate

11th July 2021

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2021)

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