Farleigh Hungerford

The first walk of 2015!! We have had some glorious weather lately so it made sense to brush off our walking boots and get back out there for another season of exploring. Today we decided to visit Farleigh Hungerford Castle a medieval strong hold built around 1377. We found it quite difficult to find anywhere to park in Farleigh Hungerford because the public house that I was going to park in was for patrons only. Although typically we do pop in to the pubs we park in after the walk, today we were going to Norton St Philip but more about that later. In the end we found a side street that led to Farleigh House and parked up by a delightful thatched cottage. I had a few problems on the way up with my car overheating which cast a worrying shadow over my start to the walk. Anyway today was about leaving your troubles at home and enjoying the great outdoors so thats what we did.

We had a nose inside the castle before setting off down the right hand side of the entrance down some steep stairs. At the basin we joined Macmillan Way along the banks of the river Frome. The route was quite a scenic but it was let down by the gloom of the weather. The sky was completely white and there was distant fog throughout the day. I managed to get some photos of the castle and added some clouds in photoshop.

As we walked along the rivers edge we could see a huge house through the trees on the opposite bank; upon the hill. Looking at the map for reference, this lovely estate was Rowley Manor. As promised from previous posts I have taken more photos of the route to give better indication of the paths we took. We followed Macmillan way to the weir and Iford Mill.

How the other half live...

It was open land for most of the way and still very cloudy - not ideal for those wishing to see the solar eclipse that was supposed to be happening shortly.

It was inevitable that we would find some mud. It does not matter if its mid summer without a drop of rain for weeks I always seem to plot a route right through a quagmire. We tried to cut though a dry area which meant hopping over a small barbed wire fence. However under foot it got more squelchy and beyond it was waterlogged. We had no choice but to navigate through the mud. Its always the same on walks, the fields seem ok but the stye or gate that we have to pass through is surrounded by deep mud. I don't think we have ever passed another walker so how do these supposedly well trodden areas get so bad?

We carried on past Dogkennel Farm crossing a narrow road leaving Macmillan Way. We followed a footpath into another open area that had sheep grazing in the distance. We admired some cottages that stood before a bridge that led into a hamlet of sorts that had a manor or old work house in the distance.

Ahead of us was open countryside it felt good to be back out again! I stayed back and tried not to attract any unwanted attention from the grazing sheep. From previous experiences they have been prone to give a lot of verbal abuse and possibly even attack - all of which unprovoked!

On the left is Friary Wood. Once the river cut us off we needed to get into the woods and pick up one of the many paths that runs through it. Choosing to do this when looking at an OS map can seem straight forward but when you are out there things can be a little different. The map for example does not show the three tired barbed wire fence that ran along side the wood. We offloaded what we could and managed to get over it without any tears to clothing or skin. Once we were in the woods the path was easy enough to find. In hindsight we should have gone though a gate that we saw earlier that led up into the woods.

We followed the path out of the woods into what seemed like a secluded living area. There were a few cottages dotted about it was all rather cosy. We imagined buying it all up if we won the lottery and living here ourselves - this was Dunkirk Mill. On the well maintained path leading up to the largest property (the mill) it started to drop a little darker. It was still very cloudy but it was evident that the eclipse was happening.

We headed left passed a nice cottage up on the hill and took a sharp right up into another wooded area.

This path was quite well established, its nice to see well maintained paths - it certainly makes our lives a little easier.

We passed some ponds on our right, which may have been used for rearing trout or similar. It was a gentle grass slope up towards the A36 through a corridor of looming trees. We had to go up some steps that presented us with the busy road. Just ahead was Branch Road so we nipped across the road and took a right. The road is very busy without any pavement - head into traffic (on the right) making sure that you are seen by oncoming vehicles. Luckily we were not on the road for very long after noticing our path - we were once again crossing open countryside.

Managed to increase my shutter speed and close up the aperture to its smallest which enabled me to get this great shot of the eclipse. Like every walk we always see something out of the ordinary and today we saw something very rare indeed.

The path took us across a stretch of open land that passed Hinton house, a large manor house that had some great views. Our path took us through a small grave yard and through on to Green Lane.

Another nice little hamlet in the sticks bothered only by the tweeting of birds and the ringing of the church bell. We dropped down onto a road that was forked. Ahead was our public foot path sign. This took us into a patch of trees. Our path was like a tunnel through the woodland. This brought us out between two ploughed fields - Hinton Charterhouse.

We followed the map as well as the trail into Norwood Wood and past Norwood Farm. Instead of being able to pass through the farm we had to walk right down to the bottom of the drive before crossing and coming back on ourselves. Its very easy to make a wrong turning here as we did - still not entirely sure where it went wrong but I think we possibly should have gone across a ploughed field. We clambered over a stye into an open field and to our left was a house that was not represented on the map. Instead of walking across the field we went around the edge. Our app that we normally use was throwing a blank so we just headed in the direction of the road (A366) which is where we needed to be.

By going the wrong way we did see two large hares and a rabbit. I tried to get a photo of the hares but they scarpered before I had even removed the lens cap. We could not find a route out of the field we were in so in true rambler fashion we hopped over a barbed wire fence into what looked like somebodies back garden - this led us to another dead end. We then leapt over another barb wire fence into an adjacent wooded area. Running along the edge was a small brook that we fought to cross trying to avoid the thorns and anything else that stood in our way. As Nigel crossed he noticed a large white thing in the water. I moved it with my walking stick, it was a large skull perhaps of a cow, calf or pony. It must have been there a while because it was completely clean of any flesh. It baffled us as to where the rest of it maybe.

Eventually we got on to the road and wondered on up it until we reached yet another public foot path (the right one) we were back on track after our little detour. We had to pass through a small field that had some large sheep in it. I stayed out of the way and hurried across. Thankfully the sheep remained seated as we passed through.

We saw a building in the distance it looked like it was open for business as there were pallets stacked up out the back and they were having some work done. However we had no idea what business they were in. Having looked on Google earth it still remains a mystery as its not labelled.

Our path met the Foxholes Lane track and into Longleaze which I imagine is the wooded area we passed through. Up ahead peering over the tops of the trees was a castle. I had no idea that it was there because it was not on the map. Nigel and Mark knew that it was Bath Lodge & Castle, it certainly looked the part.

Once we reached the lodge I had marked on the map for us to follow a track that lead down the side of the lodge. However; although the gate was open it had marked upon it 'Private Property' what were we to do now? There was nothing on the map to say it was private and we needed to get into Farleigh Wood. When nobody was looking we hurried on down the path and into to the trees at the bottom. We were lucky as a car went past us in the woods but we had gone down a path preventing the driver from seeing us. I don't condone trespassing and you do so at your own risk but the worst case scenario is that we can be asked to leave.

The woods were quite pretty and the sound of cascading water could be heard as a stream tricked alongside us. In a clearing I remembered that I needed to top up my car with water as the coolant had pretty much ran dry. We emptied the squash out of our flasks and filled them up with water from a large pond.

We left the woods behind and another Private Property sign. Walking along the edge of a field we noticed a series of Badgers sets on the embankment to our right. We hoped that they had inhabitants and were not empty due to the recent cull. We then ventured onto the outskirts of Farleigh Park. I was looking out for a school but the building that we saw in the distance looked nothing like your typical grammar establishment. It was more like a stately home, it must be private we thought. We took a path that was neatly fenced on either side and followed it to a car park, still none the wiser about this so called school.

Once in the car park we put two and two together and made the assumption that it had something to do with Bath Rugby. There were lots of vans parked with Bath Rugby embellishment on the sides and there were quite a lot of young men the size of landrovers walking about with cauliflower lugs.

We later found out that a fan of the club owned a pharmaceutical business that he sold for £900M yes nine hundred million pounds. He then paid for a 99 year lease on Farleigh House so that Bath Rugby had a decent place to train - what a great bloke!

We passed through the estate trying not feel too inadequate and made our way towards the castle and the car. Through the haze of burnt garden waste we saw the little blue Corsa, it was time to get our boots off and head over to the pub for a well earned pint.

Once we had filled the coolant up with pond water we headed to Norton St Philip because we had heard that there was a rather nice inn there called the George and that it was over 600 years old. This seemed right up our street so we parked up and headed inside. The interior certainly did not disappoint, what a place! Large open fires, courtyard and stunning views in the garden.

Another walk in the bag see you on the next one!

Created By
Stewart Scott

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.