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.
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.
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.
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.
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!