Today Lynnie is taking a trip to Montacute House with her friend Margaret and husband Tony, another day excused walking.
I have in mind a serious hike in the Quantocks with the dogs. In just over a months time we will be in Yorkshire and I have a couple of long walks planned that involve steep climbs, so I need to practice going up hills at a steady pace.
Habit is an interesting thing. The way that people always sit at the same place at a meeting table, or have their favourite seat in a bar. For me parking at Dead Woman’s Ditch is a matter of routine. There are a number of other options but this is where I usually park.
I start towards Dowsborough Hillfort, following the lane that I took with Lynnie on Wednesday, but after leaving the road, instead of climbing to the fort, I turn left down Lady’s Combe, at the foot of the hill there is a confluence of streams with Frog Combe joining from the left. I am at the head of Holford Combe and this is a cracking spot. I gradually descend the combe, crossing the stream on a number of occasions. It is just me, the dogs and a few hundred birds all enjoying the spring sunshine. As Ian Dury would say “Reasons to be cheerful”.
Halford Combe is said to have been used in the filming of part of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner and also featured in the video that support Bryan Adams song from the film “Everything I do. I do it for you”.
In Holford we head for the Bowling Green to have a sandwich, I told you that habits die-hard. Then we are climbing Hodders Combe, about half way we turn up Short Comb, and when I say up I mean up. This is a climb worthy of any walk, one that would have had Lynnie complaining. Remembering we are on a training session I attack the hill with pace and energy, after about two minutes I start to slow, another two minutes and I have stopped to admire the view. To the casual onlooker it might have appeared that I was stopping to get my breath, but in reality I was taking in my surroundings (and huge lungful’s of air!).
At a more measured pace we come to the top of Short Combe and then climb Longstone Hill, reaching the path at the top I turn right to Bicknoller Point. Now it is time to explore and I make my way to Beacon Hill. Though I am familiar with the Quantocks, I have never been to this part. The views down over to Watchett and further to Minehead are stunning. Flat Holm and Steep Holm can be seen in the Bristol Channel, both are interesting islands lying between the Somerset and Welsh Coast.
On 13 May 1897 Guglielmo Marconi assisted by George Kemp a Cardiff post office engineer, transmitted the first wireless signals over open sea from Flat Holm to Lavernock Point, Penarth. The message, sent in morse code, was “Are you ready”. This is a question that I have often asked Lyn!
I turn to head back towards Bicknoller Point, but instead of taking the direct route I take the path across the top of Bicknoller Combe and Long Combe, then down and up the sides of Paradise Combe, before doing the same in Halsway Combe then climbing up to Halsway Post, from here I walk across to Crowcombe Gate. Crossing the road I descend into Rams Combe and enter the Seven Wells Wood. It is incredibly peaceful. I meet a couple walking in the opposite direction, these are the first people I have met in over three hours, they must be on a circular walk because half an hour later they are heading towards me again. We stop to discuss how quiet it is and wonder why more people are not minded to enjoy this wonderful bit of countryside.
I make one last steep climb taking me back to the path leading to Dead Woman’s Ditch. The fancy app on the phone tells me that I have covered almost 12.5 miles in just over 3.5 hours. Given the terrain a solid work out.
To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer Map 140 – Quantock Hills & Bridgewater
9th May 2014
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2014)