Bridgwater – West Bagborough.
I used quiet country lanes for a couple of miles, my attention was drawn to the roadside flora which was a few weeks ahead of our northern lanes.
I entered North Petherton via a series of alleyways and was unexpectedly confronted by a magnificent church. A 15th century minster with a highly decorated tower, Inside are some fine wooden furnishings and a replica of a gold Alfred Jewel said to have been found after the dissolution, the original is in the Oxford Ashmolean Museum. Opposite the church was a perfect little coffee shop – Truly Scrumptious – it was.
I now started climbing towards the Quantock range of hills, an area I had never explored. Kings Cliff woods were popular with dog walkers, the cliffs of sandstone looked very precarious. Oak and beech woodlands followed the steep valley running west to east, the bluebells were spectacular. Slowly I gained height in the valley and it opened up into farmland with some exclusive properties scattered on the hillsides.The stream coming down the valley had been dammed in many places to produce ponds and mill races. I spotted a fox walking towards me but despite my stillness he ran off before I could get a decent view or photo. At the top of the valley was the village of Broomfield and the NT Fyne Court. There is much to interest you here – an old church, schoolrooms, estate houses and the remnants of the estate. The estate was owned by the Crosse family whose most famous son was Andrew, the mystical ‘thunder and lightning’ man,who in the 19th century carried out complex electrical experiments using wires strung out through the trees in the estate.Little is left of the property which burnt down in 1894 but the NT have a wonderful little cafe in one of the surviving buildings. If you like home made cakes and scones this is the place! Whilst chatting to the staff I was given helpful instructions on how to proceed for the afternoon without having to loose much height. I took these with a pinch of salt as they only recognised walking on roads and I didn’t want to miss Cothelstone Hill. I was given a lovely hand penned map to help me on my way. But first I would explore some of the well marked trails through the estate – embarrassingly, I managed to get seriously lost! So I thought after all that their helpful advice could be useful and followed their more than adequate map along quiet, twisting and undulating lanes. I found the path going off to Cothelstone Hill,332m, and was soon walking up open heathland. Exmoor ponies graze this area and they were posing for photographs at the Seven Sisters beech plantation towards the top. There were good views down to the Bristol Channel, Wales and the Minehead headland. I passed an obvious burial chamber and then headed down through bluebell woods back to a road, Following my paper map I was soon heading steeply down into West Bagborough on the edge of the Quantocks. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed today’s variety.