We’ve joined a walking group… People who do actually ‘walk’, like some friends who go for a twelve-mile yomp before lunch, or a particular friend who’s planning a hundred mile saunter along the Mendip Way, the group we’ve just joined has more modest ambitions. Walks are planned to be a few miles, maybe as many as four, walking in a place which has plenty to look at – it’s the looking at as much as the walking. In the group are members who are expert in wildlife, in natural history, in identifying plants or birds, or fungi or lichens. Plenty of time to chat to others, to stop to look, to deviate… it sounded just our sort of group.
Armed with cameras we went to meet our new friends at St Andrew’s church in Clevedon. We went on a little recce the week before as this was a part of the town we didn’t know. We visit Clevedon frequently, it’s only half an hour away but we wanted to be sure we didn’t miss the rendezvous. St Andrew’s, set on a hillside overlooking the sea, is a stunning twelfth century church, and, we later learned is the church in ‘Broadchurch’ the TV series (which we didn’t see but we did know of)
Yesterday we arrived at the rendezvous, parked up , and soon the group began to arrive and we were introduced to everyone. There were three other new people so it was a bunch of eleven of us who set off. The plan was to walk from the church, along a path overlooking the boatyard and out along the coast looking for birds in particular, but anything else of interest. On one side of the coastal path was the seashore, on the other a small river, the Land Yeo which rises in Dundry and finds its way across Somerset to Clevedon. It was an important river in the past, now insignificant; it powered over 1000, (yes a thousand) water mills on its course before entering the Bristol Channel. However, we hadn’t gone far when we were halted by some engineering works and we would have been deviated away from the coast and into the town…
We turned back and headed to the church which we wandered into and looked around. It’s an interesting church with lots to look at including a memorial to Arthur Hallam from his friend Tennyson, a Norman arch, and a green man. I would like to return and look around more as apparently there is a Sheela na gig carved somewhere. From the church we took the coastal path This path wanders round Church Hill and Wain Hill, round to look down on the town of Clevedon itself.
As we had walked, we had stopped as things were pointed out to us ‘ooh look, a little egret!’, ‘oh, here’s some wild cabbage!’ – nad we could have picked a whole lunch basket of wild herbs for lunch, if we hadn’t been heading towards a pub for refreshment. We had passed the Lookout, which is as it might be imagined, a look-out; it was built in about 1835 by a man named Ferdinand Beeston; for a family I have written about before, the Finzels, who were sugar importers. They used the viewpoint to look out over the lovely estuary, across to Wales, and to watch their sugar boats coming up the Bristol Channel.
We walked down the hill to the promenade, and arrived at what used to be known as Stinky Corner’; now it is no longer stinky, but has a magnificent tidal pool which had fallen into disrepair before a team of dedicated volunteers and enthusiasts raised funds and its profile to have it restored. You can find out more here:
This was really the end of the walking… part from the half mile to the pub, the Little Harp. We didn’t walk back along Poets’ Walk, we went round the other side of the hill, past the old post office, now a private house, and some interesting and beautifully restored old thatched houses, back to the car. We’d had a wonderful morning, met nice people, learned a lot, and were looking forward to the next walk.. which will look at a local Iron Age fort… just my cup of tea!
Here’s a link to what I wrote about the Finzels: