Today saw myself and Tommo ‘The Rock’ walk from Backwell to Wells Cathederal. At this time of year it meant starting and finishing in the dark!At 7am we set off from outside The George heading down Farleigh Road and off into the fields. It was dark and freezing cold. The forecast was good, and we were soon to have sunshine, however the cold was going to stay all day; not ideal conditions for The Rock (who’s a fair weather walker), but perfect for me (who has built in insulation). Once we’d stumbled our way over the fields we found ourselves at Backwell Station where we resisted getting on a train that would take us to Wells the easy way, before heading up Morgans Hill to the back of the Grove. From there on it was plain sailing to the Blue Flame where we couldn’t enjoy a pint. Even though the ground was partially frozen we were still ankle deep in mud and it wasn’t long before The Rock was complaining that his boots were getting dirty. The sun was coming up and despite the vultures on the power lines eyeing us up and waiting for us to drop down dead, we took our chances and stopped for photos.
A quick stroll along the River Kenn and we were soon heading down Claverham Drove towards Yatton. On our arrival at the train station where once again we resisted the easy way out I was left with nothing to do but press my face against the window of the Strawberry Line cafe where I wasn’t allowed a cup of tea, due to it being shut. The first stage had been achieved.
The second stage was simple; follow the Strawberry line into Cheddar. This is a real gem for folk who live around here. It has a great flat surface and offers a really simple way to get outdoors and see some countryside. You can even read snippets of local history and information on some the sign boards that are far enough away from the local vandals houses. The line which is part of the National Cycle Network passes through the famous Thatchers Cider apple orchards, where alas there were no ice cold bottles of Katy on offer, however I’m sure that walking through here in the summer would lead to a detour into the shop!
Axbridge looked the ideal place to get a pub lunch. The landlady at The Lamb had different plans for us. After she asked us to leave our boots outside at the front door we weighed up the odds of getting wet feet when visiting the gents, having our boots stolen (maybe she had a deal with a local villain, who after getting a tip off would run off with our footwear) and having to face putting them back on again; the mental hurdle of ‘the boots are off, must mean the walk has finished’ was too much and we decided that The Lamb wasn’t for us. So, after walking past the other pubs that weren’t doing food, we dug in and with our bellies grumbling continued to Cheddar. An hour later and stage two was complete. I was hungry. The Rock was moaning that he couldn’t find his hat.
Stage three was to take us through Ebbor Gorge and to Wookey Hole, which I was sure was to be in darkness when we got there. I wasn’t wrong. To get us there and to our final destination we were going to use The West Mendip Way which is normally walked from Wells to it’s finish in Uphill Weston-super-Mare. This path covers some beautiful hills of the Mendips and even features one or two pubs en-route. The Rock had found his hat, and I was full. This meant that I was in perfect condition for my favourite pastime of walking; moaning about steep hills. In an attempt to stop my moaning The Rock tried to hit me with a large stick. However I mistook his intentions and took it from him and used it as a substitute for my Leki walking pole that I’d left at home in the warmth.
Just before we headed down into the gorge the lights went out. And after a few minutes of pretending that we could see in the dark the torches came out. The Rock had a powerful handheld so he could do rave and search light impressions. I had a rather gloomier head torch. With his new torch The Rock confidently charged off down the path to the gorge…and whilst waving his torch around into the trees missed the Danger Cliff sign. Luckily he was reigned in before falling in head first. Set back on the right path he soon disappeared and all that was left of him was a distant light flashing around in the air. I caught up with him just in time to see him fall over hand first in a rather large lake of ‘cow mud’. I pretended to help him up holding back a quiet chuckle at his misfortune until I remembered that I’d lent him my spare gloves. Shortly after we arrived at Wookey Hole; stage three complete.
Stage four, the final leg of our walk took us into the suburbs of Wells before thrusting us out into the very centre of the city. Time was passing quickly now and both The Rock and I could smell the beer that was promised at the finish line. The residents of Wells could just smell us. Rucksacks off and end of walk photos taken we headed off to find a pub, rest our weary feet and meet our prearranged lift. Our walk was just over 32 miles long and took 11 hours to complete. If you’re mad enough to do the same thing my .gpx file can be found here.