Warminster (or Frome)   3 comments

Picked Warminster out as a stopping point because it sounded an interesting place somehow, the name just rolls off the tongue. Disappointingly though, there’s very little here. Very good B&B however and the proprietors were very interested in our walk and came up with plenty of suggestions for passing away our ‘day off’, mostly consisting of going elsewhere than Warminster which must tell a story in itself. Initially we were going to spend the morning in Warminster and then move on to Shaftsbury for the afternoon but the bus service wasn’t great and it was going to take 3.5 hours to get to Shaftsbury by bus and train so that one bit the dust. Luckily, just as we were coming out of the information centre we saw a bus that was going to Frome pulled up in the high street and this was another place suggested by the B&B so we jumped on it hoping there was going to be one back (there was 🙂 ).

Frome was a lot livelier and nicer place with lots going on, including an outdoor market, an indoor antiques fair, an art gallery and a very good local museum. Spent quite a long time in the museum as Frome used to have a large foundry where many a famous bronze sculpture was created including the ‘scales of justice’ on top of the Old Bailey and Bodicea, by the Thames. Sometimes it took years for these sculptures to be created and once they were finished hundreds of local people used to line the streets and cheer them en-route to the railway station.

After the museum and a visit to the antiques fair (I have no idea how these people make a living, they certainly weren’t selling anything) we picked up a ‘town trail’ and followed most of that around the town before catching the last bus back.
Picked up a salad and some wine from M&S food hall and sneaked it back into the B&B for our evening meal whilst we watchedClint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter on our tv.

Cheap St in Frome

River Frome in Frome

 

Stained glass window in St John's Church

Posted April 8, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Westbury to Warminster 5.5 mls, Ascent 759ft, Miles so far 305.3   3 comments

Westbury - Warminster

Well, Westbury was a bit of a one horse town (groan 🙂 ). Actually it didn’t have much going for it, apart from one very nice, and very cheap, coffee shop and an excellent Thai restaurant. Every other business was called ‘White Horse cleaners’ or ‘White Horse livery’ or ‘White Horse plumbers’, or something along the same unimaginative lines.

Anyway, finished our brief flirtation with the White Horse Way now and moved onto the Wessex Ridgeway, a far better Way that took us on top of the ridge and then along the edge so that we could see all the countryside below. The Ridgeway itself is a 137 mile walk from The Wash down to Dorset but we will only be doing about 18 – 19 miles on it which is a shame, maybe another day…..

We also joined up with the Imber Range Perimeter for most of the route today which has an interesting story to tell. There’s a village in the centre of this perimeter called Imber that was evacuated in November 1943 to facilitate training of American troops for the D-Day landings with the promise to the villagers that they would be able to return after the war. However the story goes that the military reneged on this promise and the villagers were never allowed back . Very little remains of the village now apart from the church which is maintained and opened to the public on one day a year. A very nice 4 minute presentation about the village can be watched at http://vimeo.com/13325438

Finished early today as it was only a short one so we caught a bus back to Westbury to pick up the van, had some lunch and are now relaxing in our Warminster B&B ready for our look around Warminster tomorrow. Helen has definitely improved today after a good nights sleep last night, however her internal compass has completely gone to pot and she’s been wanting to walk in the wrong direction all day. We are wondering whether to blame the military installation on top of the ridge and think perhaps they are sending out ‘internal compass blocker waves’ to confuse the enemy. This of course would have no effect on me as I have no idea which way we are going at the best of times 🙂

Westbury in the sun

Looking back towards Westbury

 

Shock, Horror ! Grey Man replaces White Horse !

Looking back down the Ridgeway

Posted April 6, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Seend Cleeve to Westbury 11 miles, Ascent 392ft, Miles so far 299.8   1 comment

Seend Cleeve - Westbury

So near and yet so far… only .2 miles to the 300 milestone and I think today Helen was feeling all 299.8 of them. It was a poor start to the day when we woke up with it being freezing cold and raining buckets. Luckily the raining buckets didn’t last too long but it still meant we had to start off all togged up with warm clothes and a full layer of waterproofs.

Only realised this morning that we had left Gloucestershire and we are now in Wiltshire, full of people with quite strong sounding Somerset accents, strangely enough. Most of our day was spent walking on the White Horse Way, still on the relative flat but mostly through fields including, of course, the odd one or two where the farmer had ploughed over the path and planted crops leaving no trace of the said path whatsoever. We passed some very nice villages along route and Steeple Ashton is probably worth a special mention if only for the fact that it has a completely over the top church for the size of the village along with ‘Wiltshire Life’s’ Village shop of the Year for 2011, where I managed to purchase a couple of very nice ‘mini pasties’ (made on the premises) for my lunch.

We found out why it was called the White Horse Way a couple of miles out from our finishing place for the night, a very quiet Westbury. In case you didn’t realise yourself, the picture below hopefully explains all 🙂 (Heard from the taxi driver that this one at least, is due to be re-whitened and floodlit for the Queens jubilee later this year).

The White Horse Way beckons

Steeple Ashton main street

Very ornate church for the size of the village

One of the eight White Horses on the White Horse Way

 

Posted April 5, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Bradford on Avon to Seend Cleeve 9.1 mls Ascent 453ft, Miles so far 288.8   4 comments

Lovely B&B last night, again, a huge Grade II listed Georgian town house and even bigger garden, which she was most insistent that we walked through on our way out. It’s a strange thing, all the B&Bs have been much larger than our house at home and I would imagine along with this, all the proprietors are better off than we are, and yet they make our beds, cook our breakfasts and clean up after us. It feels as though it should be the other way around really and I sometimes wonder how  they feel about waiting on us like that.

A big thing for me with this B&B was that they served up bread from Hobbs House bakery and I’ve been wanting to try some bread from this bakery ever since I read about them in the Sunday Telegraph a couple of years ago. They do sell it over the internet but it costs about £25 for 4 or 5 sample loaves which seems a touch extortionate. Even better was the fact that the lady at the B&B made her own jams, chutneys, marmalade and honey so it was the chance for the perfect accompaniment. Was it worth waiting 2 years for ? I’m not sure and I think we may have to pick some more up from one of their outlets on the way home to give it another try 🙂

It was a colder day today and the BBC forecast got it about spot on. Along the Kennet & Avon canal again but I don’t think it was as interesting as yesterday, a little straighter and less boats to ogle at. It was interesting that it was a 9 mile walk and we both now class this as ‘a short one’ whereas before we started Helen would have said it was a long one and would have needed to be kitted out for two coffee stops and lunch. As it was, just the one coffee stop and all of a sudden we were in Seend Cleeve. Had time in Cleeve for a quick half and a bag of crisps before catching a bus back to Trowbridge and then a train to Bradford and still arrived in Bradford for 16:00 to give us a chance to have  a quick look around the town. It is a lovely little town but suffers a lot from tiny little streets and far too much traffic which is a pity.

The most photographed tea shop in the UK, apparently

Looking at Bradford on Avon from the bridge

Tithe Barn in Bradford

Walking along the Kennet & Avon

 

Posted April 4, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Bath   2 comments

As I mentioned yesterday,we see reaching Bath as a bit of a milestone so before we left Farndon I had planned a special day for today and we had a 4 hour session in the Thermae baths. The only natural thermal spa baths in Britain. www.thermaebathspa.com/

Wasn’t quite as relaxing as the pictures on their website because there wasn’t just the two of us like it shows on the pictures (I’ve mentioned this before but haven’t all these people got work to go to on a Monday 🙂 ? ). However it was still a great way to spend half a day, even though after the first 10 mins we were thinking ‘erm, what do we do for the next 3 hrs and 50 mins’ It was surprising how soon we started just relaxing into it and how easy it became to just let time pass us by. I think we both preferred the outside pool on the roof where the water was just at the perfect temperature and a real contrast to the air around it.

Amazingly they don’t have to heat the water at all to get it this hot, quite the reverse actually as it originally comes to the surface at 44.5 degrees and has to be cooled to the optimum 33.5 degrees that suits us humans.

As for Bath itself well what a grand place it is, absolutely full of coffee shops, art galleries, museums, independent shops, alleyways, more coffee shops, cafes, art centres, riverside views, parks, etc, etc. I really wish I had factored in another day or two here as there was no way we could do it justice in one day. A definite cert for a re-visit in the future for maybe a week even.

The Royal Crescent

Palladian Pulteney Bridge

The Jazz Cafe

Posted April 4, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Bath to Bradford on Avon 13.5mls Ascent 564ft Miles so far 279.7   2 comments

Bath - Bradford on Avon

Totally different walking today to what we are used to as we’ve turned East and now have a couple of days along the the River Avon and the Kennet & Avon canal. I was worried at first that walking along a canal would get quite boring but I needn’t have worried as there was plenty of variety and lots of different boats (and people) to look at.

We started off walking into Bath along the River Avon from last night’s caravan site which was a joint marina and caravan site run by the BWB, a situation that we haven’t come across before but a jolly good idea all the same. It’s always totally different coming into a town or city along a canal (the Avon is canalised along this stretch) and when we used to have a narrowboat some of the most interesting  journeys involved going into cities by the ‘back route’ so to speak. Even managed to help a narrowboat through one of the locks on the way, as the two lads that dad had sent on were struggling with the lock gates, bringing back a few good memories of the hundreds of locks we must have gone through over our 20 years boating up and down the canals in the past.

Once we had split from the river there was a great number of boats either moored up by the side or moving up and down the canal, all the more variety I expect because there were a fair few wide beam along with the normal canal boats and even a converted lifeboat and converted tugboat made an appearance. Most were obviously fairly well looked after but it was a bit sad to also see some that were in a right state and it did seem to be the residential ones that were in the worst state. It’s hard enough to live in the confines of a narrow boat as it is without it being full of junk and disintegrating around you.

Arrived at Bradford about 16:30 and caught a train back to Bath to collect the van. By the time we got back, booked into the B&B and found somewhere to eat we’ve not really had much chance to see  Bradford so far but a few people have told us it’s a lovely place so, being a shorter day tomorrow, we’ll hopefully get a chance to have a better look around when we come back to pick up the van tomorrow afternoon.

PS, thanks to everybody who managed to wish me a happy birthday during the day. I don’t think I’ll be forgetting this one in a hurry 🙂

Don’t forget if you’re enjoying our blog then please feel free to visit our ‘Just Giving‘ page and make a small donation to Nightingale House Hospice at Wrexham 🙂

Kennet & Avon leaving Bath

Converted tugboat, very smart !

Don't want my sausages made from this tomorrow:-)

Just idyllic

Posted April 3, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Toghill (Wick) to Bath 8.5mls Ascent 805ft, Miles so far 266.2   12 comments

Toghill - Bath

The morning started bright and crisp for our walk into Bath today, a fairly short walk of just over 8 miles through what appears to be quite a major civil war area including the actual field where the Battle of Lansdown took place in 1643. It was very sad to read that the two opposing commanders in this battle used to be great friends before the civil war and reading the various information boards has quite aroused my interest in maybe reading up more about the civil war in the near future.

During the first half of the walk we were looking down over Bristol and then we abruptly changed direction and started looking down over Bath instead. I hadn’t realised they were quite so close together. Couldn’t help noticing a very prominent red brick building on the outskirts of Bristol and we were wondering if it had been a series of millhouses at some time so we asked a passing local and he told it used to be big Fry’s chocolate factory. This started us reminiscing about Fry’s chocolate but the only three we could remember were Fry’s Turkish Delight, Fry’s Chocolate Cream and I think there was one called 5 boys ?

Got into Bath mid afternoon and wandered through some parks on the way into the center. Absolutely packed with people sunbathing on the grassed areas on their Sunday off.

Feel as though we have hit a couple of milestones today. We are two thirds of the way both in time and in miles, we have finished on the Cotswold Way and we have reached Bath where our route takes a turn to the East. (and we are still talking to each other 🙂 ).

Coming down towards Bath

A bit of interesting info about the battle of Lansdown

Looking back towards Toghill

One of my best ever dungheaps, it's got so hot it's turning to ash 🙂

Posted April 1, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Petty France to Toghill (Wick) 14.5mls Ascent 1444ft Miles so far 257.7   4 comments

Petty France - Toghill

Petty France - Toghill

A varied walk today as we went past the 250 mile mark.  A bit cooler than it has been and there were warnings of drizzle but nothing materialized. Started off the morning with the sky full of larks singing their  heads off above us and we soon got to NT’s Horton Court looking very resplendent below us. Soon after this we arrived in Little Sodbury, now I would normally say I’m not an Iron Age Fort man, I tend to look at them and come away thinking ‘somebody’s got a vivid imagination if they think that was a fort‘ however, the one at Little Sodbury is the best I’ve ever come across. It must be at least 100 yds by 80 and all four sides are surrounded by mounds, all still intact. On top of this there is then a moat and then another complete set of mounds as a further defence. I was very impressed and even somebody with my lack of imagination could picture the fort being alive and full of huts and people and horses etc. Surprised it isn’t better publicised or maybe I’ve just never taken any notice 🙂

Stopped for lunch in Tormarton and was glad to see the Cotswold Way had changed route since my OS map and no longer went around the M4 roundabout although it did pass some massive arable fields that took 20 mins to trudge past. We could hear and just about see the odd motocross bike on the other side of this field as they shot over the hills on their route, both wheels off the ground. After this Helen really speeded up as it began to appear that we might have time to call in NT’s Dyrham Park cafe for a piece of Victoria sponge. We arrived in plenty of time, no Vic sponge available but we consoled ourselves with some parsnip, carrot and hazlenut cake for Helen and some lemon drizzle for me (I felt I had to join in so Helen wouldn’t feel so bad).

Almost forgot to mention that we came across hoards of wild garlic today and the smells are just starting to waft up and fill the woods and we also came across a Cotswold Way ‘message’ box and book in Dyrham wood where we added our names and a little bit of info about our walk. If ever you are passing that way in the future look us up. A fairly long walk today but we made it to Toghill House Farm for about 17:45 and then got a taxi back to Petty France to pick up the van and get an early evening meal.

Horton Court

Must be Angora with a coat like that

Specially built for Swallows and Barn Owls

 

Posted March 31, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Wotton-under-Edge to Petty France 9.4 miles Ascent 1234ft Miles so far 243.2   2 comments

Wotton under Edge - Petty France

Loaded ourselves up with muesli and toast this morning, as the B&B in Wotton doesn’t do cooked breakfasts, and set out into the rather cold Wotton. It only took a couple of minutes before we realised that we were walking back towards Middleyard and had to correct ourselves. We weren’t sorry to leave Wotton as we weren’t really impressed with the B&B or the town itself. I suspect the problem is that we’ve been spoilt recently with the lovely places that we’ve stopped at.

The walking went well today and although we don’t really feel we are getting any fitter we certainly seem to be getting to places quicker. In no time at all we were in Alderley for coffee. I’m not quite sure when coffee time is any more but Helen seems to have this super formulae involving miles walked and ascents etc for working it out. I’m not sure I’ve quite grasped it but I think it’s distance walked in feet multiplied by the diameter of the ascent divided by 4, all over pi times 7.63. And then when this total over C = 0 then it’s time to stop. I may be missing the temperature quotient out of this and thereby making it too simple but that bit confuses me a little.

Heather Stewart - Land End to John O'Groats

Anyway, sat there drinking coffee (and letting my brain cool down) when another walker comes along and starts chatting. We told her where we were going and asked about her walk and it turned out that she was walking from Lands End to John O’Groats !! Lovely lady and she was as enthusiastic about our walk as she was about her own. If anybody wants to have a look at how she is getting on you can follow her blog on http://www.travelpod.com/members/heather-stewart. It’s very good and a lot more detailed then ours. We wish her the best of luck and hope that her enthusiasm lasts for the whole 874 miles. I’ve a feeling it will.

The weather had brightened up by now and after a quick look inside the church at Alderley we walked down some lovely paths to Hawkesbury where we just happened to notice that the Beaufort Arms was still open. Being as time was going so well and it would have been rude to walk past somehow, we called in for some scrumpy and some sandwiches which went down very nicely in the garden in the sun before walking the final mile and a half to our nights stop at Petty France just in time for a bus back to pick up the van. A good day :-).

Spotted on Wortley Hill

Hawkesbury Upton's "You'll Never Leave" a bit scary

A glass of scrumpy and a sandwich

Posted March 31, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized

Day out in Cirencester   6 comments

Another day off from walking (I think Helen sneaked some in without me noticing 🙂 ) Certainly nothing to do in Wotton so as a few people had recommended Cirencester we decided to have a drive out to there for the day. Turned out to be a good choice with plenty to see and do and plenty of options to have a slow amble around. As always, the first place we headed for was Costa Coffee where I mistakenly ordered medium sized cappuccino and americano instead of small ones and we ended up with approx a bucket each. Couldn’t help noticing that the ‘large’ ones now come with two handles so that if you make the mistake of ordering one you now at least have half a chance of being able to pick it up. Being able to drink the darned thing is another story of course.

As I say it’s an nice town to walk around with lots of smaller independent shops and an old town which always adds to the interest along with a large cotswold stone church in the centre which is almost cathedral size. There’s also a huge park owned by the Bathurst Estate which has a huge long drive through it, very much like the Duke’s drive in Chester I suppose. Also very much like the Duke of Westminster owns a lot of Chester, the Bathurst Estate owns a lot of Cirencester apparently.

We had lunch sat outside in a nice little courtyard in the sun and then did a short tour of the large church which is actually in the throes of being cleaned up on the outside and coated with some sort of protective coating that makes the cleaned up bits so far stick out like a sore thumb. Not to everyone’s taste according to the nice lady who greeted us when we came in, understandably. Wandered around for the rest of the afternoon, managing to find a replacement camera case for the one that’s dropped to pieces (a present off Helen, could be due to her buying it from the pound shop 🙂 ) before popping into a Caffe Nero’s that we had previously missed and then calling in to a pub in Tetbury on the way back for evening meal. It sounded lovely as an ‘aromatic squash, broad bean and lentil curry’ but, sad to say, I’ve definitely had a tastier curry out of a Tesco tin.

Blackjack Lane

Cirencester college

 

Posted March 29, 2012 by derektruby in Uncategorized