13-15 April: Moving house and more exploration on foot

Author: Mrs A

Location: West Bagborough, Somerset, UK

Every time we leave the house, the environment looks another shade greener, buds bursting open and brightening the scene. A short walk around the lower hills near West Bagborough took us alongside fields and past inquisitive alpacas that never fail to make you smile with their wooly heads and questioning mouths!

Our local alpaca farm always delivers some laughs with the silly hairstyles and faces
Apple blossom bodes well for this year’s crop

Apple blossom hints at future crops while freshly ploughed fields are seeded and covered in plastic to speed up growth. Spring has continued to be warm and sunny, more akin to September in Australia than the April showers we expect in the UK. We are not complaining though, as we enter our fourth dry weather week in Somerset.

Even the stinging nettles look lovely in the late afternoon light…they’re ever increasing on our walks, making it a little challenging as the legs go bare
Wintery-looking pathways are transformed as buds burst and leaves begin to unfurl
Wild violets add a splash of colour

Easter Sunday was a relaxed affair, knowing we had a safe haven to move to, a month’s rent paid up in advance.

We decided to take a ramble back into the Quantock Hills. The beech trees up there have suddenly burst into life, the fresh bright green leaves catching your eye against the dark, mossy trunks. Walking through woodland, squirrels constantly scurry through the crispy leaves, bounding swiftly up tree trunks and leaping away through the canopy. Nervous and skittery, not tame and curious like the squirrels in the parks of my childhood, so no pictures captured.

Bright green signs of hope
Friendly Exmoor ponies check us out

Easter morning was warm and hazy, and as we climbed up to the highest point in the Quantock Hills, Wills Neck, we could see bands of thick fog down at the coast, stretching out beneath us. We continued our walk over into the National Trust area.

Fog down below in the valleys
Crossing a style into the Great and Marrow Hills National Trust area
A brief sit down for a sip of tea

We continued through the heathland, hints of heather which will be bursting into shades of mauve and purple before long. As I rounded a hill I spotted a bird on the floor, clearly assuming she was well disguised against the dry grasses – a Skylark – they have the most beautiful voices and a crest of feathers on top of their heads that sticks up as they sing.

A skylark sheltering on the ground, pretty fearless though keeping an eye on me passing
Pathways stretch away through the gorse and heather

We climbed up the next high point, Great Hill. There we found a curious loose stone pavement, enjoying panoramic sweeping views. We later learned this is a Bronze Age hilltop burial cairn, one of several in this history-rich area.

The hilltop cairn above the village of Triscombe
This burial cairn was created around 2000-700 years BCE
Another Common Stonechat…maybe they are common after all!

We climbed down into sleepy Triscombe Village on our return route, discovering another pub with a lovely garden we hope to enjoy a beverage in during peacetime.

Mark queueing up outside the Blue Ball Inn for an early pint

A robin followed us along our path on our return route, posing in a holly tree as though it were Christmas morning rather than Easter! Very cute though.

Robin red breast chases insects on our stroll home from Triscombe Village
The fields and woodlands are greening up
Delicate yellow field pansies cling on in a field yet to be ploughed
More Christmas references here as an old holly tree is intwined with ivy
Leopard’s Bane – the European sunflower looking joyful along our path near the church

Easter Monday was house moving day – we packed up all our bits and pieces, loaded up Truffy, spent a few hours washing sheets, towels, cleaning, dusting , vacuuming and washing floors before driving about 200 metres down the hill, through a gate and into our new home!

Unpacking was interesting, given we had more food and supplies than space, but a bit of reorganising and we were in. A defrosted pre-made dinner (these days as exciting as getting takeaway!) and a glass of wine and we were settled. Honeysuckle Cottage is our new safe base for a while.

Waking up on Tuesday morning, we did a pilates session in the garden (thank goodness we bought yoga mats!) with an amazing view across the countryside. The flock of sheep being herded past us mid-plank was a bit off putting (on the other side of the fence), but gave us a good laugh. What a world away from the sterile environment of the gym!

After lunch we pulled on the hiking shoes again and took off up the hill towards a bluebell wood one of the village neighbours had told us about. The delicate blue flowers were indeed already starting to pop up amongst the greenery, giving us a lovely display.

Little patches of purple between the trees
Perfect bells
The serenity is wonderful, little woodland birds flitting through the branches
Ancient trees covered in moss and the tendrils of ivy and creepers snaking up the trunks
Can’t resist a hug with an old giant…no, not Mr A…

Emerging out through the woods we strolled down a lane, finding a bridle way signposted through another woodland. We had no idea where it went, but followed it anyway, comfortable in the knowledge we can find our way back home somehow, and the more remote we are, the fewer people we will come across.

New valleys and ancient farms nestled in. amongst the hills

We found ourselves emerging at Three Horseshoes Hill (apparently popular with the ultra fit road bikers), and looped back around using our handy Maps.me app which shows where all the walking tracks are.

The app is not always right, and we did end up walking across a field that had recently been spread with muck (cow poo and straw!), but thankfully it was not too far. More civilised footpaths were signposted from hereon and all going uphill. As we began our ascent we heard a deafening roar. A twin rotor Royal Air Force helicopter was flying very low and right past us. We gave them a wave given they were our first humans of the day. We couldn’t tell whether they waved back.

A Boeing Chinoock RAF tandem rotor helicopter does a flyby – one of these will set you back around £61 million (that’s about AU$120.8 million)…don’t think we will be buying one any time soon…

The climb back up rewarded us with fabulous views of the patchwork of fields around us, the clear blue skies setting off the greens beautifully.

Look at those crystal clear colours
Mr A strolls across a particularly steep hillside
Views across to the coast and the Bristol Channel

We chatted to our neighbour who tells us that the sky is never normally this clear and blue. The lack of air pollution from planes and other transport is making all the difference. We have to accept feeling a little privileged to be seeing it like this at this strange time.

Not all the trees have leaves as yet – Mr A coming up the hill
Views that take our breath away every time

As we crossed our final field, heading down towards home, we smiled to hear the sound of a cuckoo echoing in the nearby wood, and seeing a spotted woodpecker hammering at a rotten branch in a tree up above us.

I know this is a time of sadness, particularly with so much virus related death happening here, but it seems to be also a time to force us to slow down and appreciate nature and all the life that is present as well.

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