24-26 March: Settling into Somerset

Author: Mrs A

Location: West Bagborough, Somerset, UK

Tuesday: After a peaceful night’s sleep in our country cottage, we awoke to a blue-skied day and views stretching away in front of us. After the turmoil of the past few days we were almost anticipating having our home whisked away from us at short notice, but thankfully that didn’t happen.

We brought in our supplies from Truffy, realising that what looked like a lot in our tiny amount of storage space was actually meagre rations. Not quite what we needed to be able to minimise our time out of the house. Thankfully our friends Matt and Jenny have a couple of great local businesses which can supply us with fresh vegetables and meat so we think we will be ok.

Our sixteenth century cottage – ‘home’
Perfect Truffy parking – he can enjoy sweeping views from here
The view from our garden
Beautiful scented daffodils

We pulled out our bikes and set off for an explore. Current social isolation restrictions allow us some exercice each day from our front door, with running, walking and cycling all permitted as long as we avoid other people and don’t get into a car. Suits us perfectly!

Having ebikes allows us the freedom to explore without the worry about getting too tired. We set off first down the hill from home, whizzing through the little village of West Bagborough, past The Rising Sun pub (sadly closed due to restrictions) and keeping to the quiet little lanes as we explored. Unsurprisingly, given we are in the Quantock Hills, some of the roads were quite steep, but no problem on our bikes.

Another quiet lane

The clean, crisp, spring air was positively delicious and being outside in the sunshine was so invigorating. Every corner revealed more amazing country scenes, little churches nestled in amongst the hills, surrounded by trees laden with cherry blossom and magnolia flowers. Grand gateways hinted at manor houses hidden at the end of tree lined driveways, firing our imaginations at the history hidden here.

An intriguing archway and long driveway – entrance to the 17th century Cothelstone Manor

We found ourselves having a tea break at Cothelstone Hill, an area with spectacular views which has been in use since prehistoric times with burial mounds, and Neolithic flints discovered up there (around 12,000 years old). After exploring up there and chatting to another ebiker (from a distance!) about good rides in the area, we left with a plan for the following day.

Cothelstone Hill and its amazing views
Looking over at the Exmoor ponies grazing on the scrub
A group of trees known as the Seven Sisters
Looking down towards the power station on the Bristol Channel, south Wales beyond

We cannot enthuse enough about the fabulous spring weather we are enjoying. The UK has apparently had some substantial rain (while we were overheating in Australia and valiantly trying to avoid bushfire smoke!) so everyone around us is appreciating it too. From the garden at ‘our’ house we get to enjoy an amazing sunset each night. Long may it continue!

This outdoor table will have a front seat view come the warmer months
A beautiful sunset

Wednesday: We jumped back on our bikes, heading up the hill from the cottage and riding up to Lydeard Hill. From there we rode through a cattle gate and followed a ridge trail. It was mostly gravel, but on some particularly rocky and muddy parts we pushed the bikes. It would be perfect for mountain bikers though, and we saw one or two come whizzing past us.

A beautiful woodland track, hints of new leaves in the trees
Beautiful old moss covered trees have so much character
The ride we wish would keep on going forever
Another quiet lane
Perfect social distancing activity

Again we made up a great circuit ride, clocking up another 20km of fabulous scenery and fresh air.

Thursday: We decided to don our hiking shoes and take things at a slightly slower pace, heading into the village of West Bagborough and finding a walk trail that started in the cemetery of the old church there.

The walk starts here, at the church in the village
A stunning meadow of daffodils
Délicate primroses
Across freshly ploughed fields

From there we followed signs across fields, through woods and up a steep hill to Triscombe Stone, a 50cm high standing stone that was erected (it is suspected) during the Bronze Age (around 5,000 years ago) to mark a meeting place.

Loving these shadows cast by the bare spring trees
Forever serene views as we walk
Brightly coloured pheasants dash out from the hedgerows as we pass by
A bench with a view, surrounded by flowering gorse and the buzzing of bees provides a lunch spot

From there we walked up to Wills Neck, the highest point in the hills, enjoying 360 degree views around the area, looking across to South Wales, the Bristol Channel, Exmoor in one direction, and towards Devon in the other direction.

Triscombe Stone
More benches with great views
A friendly horse is waiting for us at the cairn on Wills Neck – also admiring the views
Horse watering hole
Nearly home
A stand of trees lines the lane home

We managed to join several walking tracks together and make a great circuit back to our cottage after 10.5km (6.5 miles). If you are visiting Somerset and want to repeat this same walk, Mr A has written it up in detail here.

Our base for the next 12 weeks…and beyond?
A new moon, and another sunset over a crystal clear starlit night

There are so many walks and potential cycle routes from here, we feel so grateful for where friendship and fate has led us. Finally we can breathe a sigh of relief and settle in to our new life here in Somerset.

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