Day 072: Uphill to Clevedon
Distance: 18.07 miles
Ascent: 1353 feet
Weather: Overcast but Dry
Accommodation: Charlotte & Tom's Flat, clevedon
I fell asleep early last night, before even starting the diary. My body was still aching this morning and by my standards I had a lay in not waking up till almost 7. I set of late this morning for two reasons, firstly my body needed to warm up and also I decided to do yesterdays diary before leaving.
Well as was hinted in yesterday’s diary there were several possible issues for today. The main one of these was crossing the River Yeo, which if you look at the map has no real options till far south of the M5 and a long way inland. Previous coast walkers and other hikers have had significant issues here, struggling to get through blocked culverts under the M5, being confronted by angry farmers, following public byways that had been blocked and one person completely madly got so annoyed they used the M5 hard shoulder to cross over. In my schedule I had proposed to not get anywhere near the M5 and had hoped to cross at the first sluice gate, which though not a public byway I had hoped I would see farmer and get permission.
I had a massive stroke of luck, as the Downings who I had stayed with on my rest day used to live in Wick St Lawrence and on contacting a friend at Icelton Farm who in turn contacted Yeo Bank Farm with both giving me permission to cross their land, providing me with the best route across the river. So, though I only set of at about 10 this morning, my most significant issue was sorted at least in principal.
The first part of the day took me into Weston-Super-Mare, which strangely reminded me a little of Eastbourne where I went to school and lived for my teenage years. It had lawns, slightly dated old buildings, a pier, some amusements and lots of old people, though in its own way was quite a nice town. On the way out of the town you pass Birnbeck pier which appears almost entirely derelict which is an absolute shame. The pier links the land to a collection of buildings on an island and it could be absolutely stunning either as a tourist location, hotel or even a rich individuals mansion. This is probably the most important structure to renovate I have seen on the walk so far, I felt a little sad that it had been allowed to get to this state.
From the pier I followed the road around the headland towards Kewstoke, which was actually busier and windier than I had expected and then I noticed a little path (not marked on map) only 20m or so into the woods on the side and I joined this as it was much more relaxing than having all the vehicles bombing passed, and I soon reached Kewstoke.
The next part was almost like déjà vu of yesterday, but just on a smaller scale with Sand Bay just smaller than Brean Sands, and Sand Point just a smaller version of Brean Head. I made quick progress across Sand Bay and climbed the short stretch up Sand Point. As with Brean Head yesterday, it was absolutely stunning up on the point, and I chose this moment to have my packed lunch nestled out of the wind. This was also the start of where there could be issues with the paths. The first part from the point to Woodspring Priory was not shown as a public byway on the OS map but from research it was owned by National Trust and it appeared there was a path that went this way, which fortunately there was though it went a slightly different route to what I had expected.
My route then took me down lanes and a public bridleway to Ebdon. The paths and signs had been fairly clear, the only slight issue I have is with the bull in field signs when clearly there was no bull, and as it was a public byway there shouldn’t be a bull in the field anyway based on the wildlife and countryside act unless it is one of a small group of recognised safe breeds and then a sign wouldn’t be necessary. These bull in field signs on public paths are really annoying, as most of the time there isn’t one in the field and it just raises your anxiety level and wouldn’t protect the farmer from any liability anyway. Rant over, I should point out that most farmers don’t do this and are hiker friendly but there are a select few who seem to do it to try and scare hikers from entering the vicinity of their farm
I headed through Wick St Lawrence, and arrived at Icelton Farm where I easily found Bob the farmer in the yard, and he showed me the route through his farm to the sluice gate. I crossed over the sluice bridge and down the side of Yeo Bank Farm where though we didn’t speak I waved to the farmer as thanks across the field. I am very thankful to the two farmers for letting me cross their land as it made the route much shorter and better, and took away any possible trespass issues with alternative routes.
From here it was lane walking passed several farms, until a little permissive path took me back to the coast just short of Clevedon. The entry to Clevedon is very scenic, with a little embankment forming a sort of little harbour before the path climbs up Wain’s Hill, and then down to the Marine Lakes, which are a bit like the Victorian equivalent of an infinity pool and I felt were very impressive. Then the path reached Clevedon Pier, which may be my favourite pier of the trip so far with it’s elegant, sleek, almost art deco design even though built it was built in 1869.
I had through an old school friend been put in touch with Charlotte and Tom, who kindly had allowed me to stay in their flat for the night as well as cooking me a chilli which surprisingly tasted great even though it was made from turkey mince.
So a day that I had been very anxious about, but due to the planning and a bit of luck & kindness was a very simple and fun day.