(Distance: 3.75 Miles. Use OS Explorer Maps Nos 155 & 156)
For the first in an occasional series of ‘Local Walks to be Enjoyed’ I have chosen a short and gentle, virtually flat, walk from the convenient starting point of Winsley Village Hall. Whatever the weather, it is always sensible to equip yourself with sturdy footwear, waterproof over-clothing – and a bottle of water. If you can stretch to it, an investment in a walking pole (the purists would say two!) can prove a very useful extra piece of gear in all sorts of ways. If walking alone, it is always prudent to let someone know or leave a note of your intended route for the duration.
Find your way through the old village, emerging at Millbourn Close before crossing the by-pass (with great care) opposite Church Farm. 250 metres beyond Church Farm, take the FP on the L, ensuring that you secure the gate firmly behind you as there will, almost certainly, be sheep in this field. Make your way due W across this and a further field to emerge, over a stone stile, at the sharp bend by Conkwell Grange Farm. Continue, for 0.5 miles on the rather winding road, in the direction of Conkwell, until you see another FP sign on your left. Follow this through woodland to the point where the path divides. Do not take the steep former quarry drift, on the L, down to Dundas but follow the path along the contour line (uneven and rocky) until you reach Conkwell. At this point you re-join the road, turn R and climb the short, steep uphill section, turning sharp L again at the Post Box. Follow the lane as it skirts the S edge of dense woodland (Inwood), climbing an old, stone stile on your L and follow the FP, as it divides, in a SE direction, across three large fields that stretch out in front of you, to emerge at Haugh Farm via a small wooden latch-gate. Turning S, find your way through the farm buildings/ stables (it is a public Right of Way). At the next road junction cross the Haugh – Little Ashley Lane and over the gap in the wall (take care – loose stones) and follow the well-trodden FP due S to the corner of the field. One last stone stile to negotiate before you move off down the lane in the direction of Winsley, via the Hartley Farm road junction. Maybe time for a well earned coffee, or tea and cake, at the Farm Shop before completing the final 0.75 miles back to your starting point at the Village Hall.
WALK NO. 2
(Distance: 4.25 Miles. Use OS Explorer Map No. 156)
The second walk in this series takes us through the countryside to the N of Winsley & BoA.
From a starting point at the Village Shop make your way W along Tyning Rd, cross the by-pass & head for Hartley Fm crossroads. Take R hand fork and, turning L at cattle grid, pass BoA RUFC entrance, walk a further 250m and cross stile at a FP sign on your L. ‘Aim for the lone oak tree on the far side of the field. As you approach the oak you will see the field gate in the corner. Go through it and then turn L along the field edge. After about 100 M, the FP Right of Way hops over to the other side of the hedge by a stile. This is also a point where the path forks, so you should make sure that when you also have hopped over the stile, you keep to the RH path along the hedge for another 150/200 yards where you meet a double set of stone stiles. On emerging, turn R and cross two stiles & two fields in the same line to a stile directly beneath overhead cables. Cross stile & turn L to follow hedge as far as the gate onto the road.
Turn R and follow road through Lt. Ashley. Continue across staggered crossroad by Lt Ashley Fm and ahead for a further 100m. Go through metal kissing gate on the L just before the bend. Proceed half R across the field to metal kissing gate in the far corner. Almost immediately turn R over a low stone stile. Cross field to an open gateway to L of oak tree. Continue in line with Westbury White Horse, through further kissing gates & across the Recreation Ground into Ashley Rd. Cross road into Huntingdon St & down to meet the Winsley Rd.
Turn R, along pavement to take another R turn into Churches & on into Magnon Rd to access FP gate onto school playing fields. Aim for metal kissing gate ahead & across a further two fields separated by a stile consisting of a large stone slab (reputedly once part of the Roman villa!). Continue with fence on your L to cross your two final stiles in rapid succession. This brings you on to minor road that links Winsley with the Ashleys. Turn L, again passing rugby ground. Cross the by-pass, through small wooden gate and continue S along Ashley Lane. At the point where it meets Bradford Rd. turn R and R again to follow rough tarmac FP that takes you back into Tyning Rd. and on to finish at the Co-op Shop.
WALK NO. 3
(Distance: 5 miles. Use O.S. Explorer Map No. 155)
Starting from the Village Hall, head for the By-pass but take a L on the FP that leads you across the meadow. With Avon Park to your L, head for the far corner that brings you out on the B3108. Cross this busy road with care and take the first R towards Conkwell. Pass Conkwell Grange Fm and continue, for 0.5 miles on the rather winding road, in the direction of Conkwell, until you see another FP sign on your left. Follow this through woodland to the point where the path divides. Do not take the steep former quarry drift, on the L, down to Dundas but follow the path along the contour line (uneven and rocky) until you reach Conkwell. At this point you re-join the road, turn R and climb the short, steep uphill section, turning sharp L again at the Post Box. After c.300m take a sharp left at a white finger post towards Warleigh.
A quarter of a mile on from the finger post you pass a wooden stile and padlocked metal gate on your R. At this point you begin a steep descent down the still narrow tarmac lane, ignoring the entrance to Tanglewood on your L. 50m on take the next L (an FP sign points the way) through Sheephouse Fm. Cross the concrete standing and follow the FP (now designated the Palladian Way) through two new aluminium kissing gates down to the riverside. The path is uneven and probably wet in places. Follow the riverside path upstream along the R. Avon across a number of untended meadows (Trousers advised if you intend to walk the route in summer as this stretch is full of nettles and Japanese Knotweed. DON’T bring any home!) until you find yourself at the Monkton Combe Boat Club slipway. Pass under the L.H. arch of Dundas Aqueduct and immediately up the steps on your L. If you wish to seek refreshment at the Angel Fish Café (an 800m detour) turn L and L again to access the Somerset Canal Basin which has café & toilet facilities. Otherwise, turn R at top of steps and proceed along the towpath, passing under Winsley Hill Bridge until you reach the next bridge across the canal at Elbow Cottages. Cross over this bridge and follow the unmade road gently uphill. Pass through a metal farm gate and take a L, through a metal kissing gate and continue uphill on the narrow, rather enclosed path until you emerge at the stone stile with the Cricket Field on your R. Continue on the now made-up road until you return to the Village Hall.
(Distance: 6m. Use OS Explorer Maps 142 & 156)
Taking the Village Hall as your starting point, make your way, by the familiar route, down to Avoncliff. Then under the aqueduct to pass the Blue Cow Café on your L to head west along the picturesque riverbank FP. Having negotiated 5 KGs you emerge onto the minor road connecting Freshford with Westwood. Turn R over the stone bridge to take a L (KG) at the FP sign at the corner of the Freshford Inn CP. Follow the path uphill to pass through a rusty KG at the top. (Plentiful Wild Garlic and Cow Parsley to be seen here in Spring). Take a sharp L to follow the FP on its steep descent. As the path levels out, pass through 3 further sturdy, wooden KGs to emerge by the abandoned Freshford Mill development. Turn R & follow tarmac road around bend in the river. Turn L at Dunkirk Mill Cott. & L again along a BW, as far as River House hamlet. Cross the road, heading for a new timber 5-bar gate & on through another wooden KG 100m ahead. Follow FP through the pretty Friary Wood (again, Bluebells & Wild Garlic in abundance in season).
Leave the wood by way of a stile & cross the long meadow ahead & over a further stile onto the by-road at Iford. Take a L to The Manor, pausing to say ‘hello’ to Britannia standing proud on Iford Bridge. Turn R &, after 150m, a further R onto another BW. Follow this BW (a few inclines) for some 800m to reach a minor road. Turn L. After 400m take a R at the FP sign. Follow the FP along the hedge to emerge, via a metal bar stile, at Westwood Church. Walk through the churchyard & take the FP from the far corner (by a wooden door marked ‘Private’). Pass through 2 wooden KGs to a final stone stile. Descend steps with great care & cross the road. Proceed L, for 250m, then R into Orchard Close. Pass the Social Club, & on through an aluminium KG directly opposite & follow the FP to the top L corner of the field. Pass though the rusty iron KG & take a L along the estate road. At ‘Bobbin Lane’ road sign pass along the snicket , with high fencing on your L.
Move on through the U. Westwood Rec. to cross the road & on down the side-road opposite, taking the elevated pavement on the R. Opposite Westwood Motors take the FP ahead & follow the downhill gradient, through woodland, to an aluminium gate. Pass though the gate & continue your steep descent, on the tarmac road, to the Blue Cow Café & on back to Winsley Village Hall by the route used on your outward leg.
(NB: The riverside FP and various BWs can be very muddy in winter).
*(FP = Footpath; KG = Kissing Gate; BW = Bridleway)