29-31 March: Watching spring emerge

Author: Mrs A

Location: West Bagborough, Somerset, UK

Spring in Somerset continues to be dry and sunny, but the temperatures have dropped a few degrees now and there’s a few more layers to be worn when heading out. It’s still lovely though, and we’re really enjoying the novelty of fresh air (no bushfire smoke), wrapping up and watching spring break through.

We’ve settled into a bit of a routine, with a 45 minute pilates class every second day, and a walk or cycle daily. We’re hoping to make this ‘retreat’ healthy for our bodies in some ways – though we seem to be drinking gin or wine more frequently. What happened to alcohol free days?

After than 20 years living in Australia we really appreciate the seasons in Europe, especially enjoying the transformation of spring. We are actually enjoying the opportunity to stop in one place and watch the development happen.

Crossing a paddock along one of the many footpaths that wind through the countryside

Every paddock seems to contain a tree that almost looks like a sculpture, the lack of leaves only highlighting the shape and form. Leaves are not far off, with signs of new life popping up daily.

The new buds are beginning to burst

One of our walks took us through our local village of West Bagborough. History here dates back to at least Roman times, with a hoard of 4th century Roman silver coins discovered in 2001 by a local policeman with a metal detector. The hoard was purchased by the Museum of Somerset for £41,650 (around AU$85,000 at today’s exchange rate) and is displayed at Taunton Castle. Not bad for an afternoon out! The history of the area dates further back still, with evidence locally of Bronze age burial grounds in the hills.

St Pancras Church. The grey mansion in the background is Bagborough House, and dates back to 1730.

St Pancras Church sits high above the village and dates from the 15th century. It used to be the hub of the village but is now quite separate. During the Black Death pandemic (mid 1300s) most of the village died, leaving fewer than 100 people. They rebuilt the village lower down the hill to start anew and escape the bad memories. It makes you wonder how they current pandemic will also shape our future. What will change because of Covid-19?…I am sure it will be the topic of much analysis, essays and articles in the future.

The original bell tower door shows just how much shorter people used to be…I can’t see any problem actually

One good thing about being in the Quantock Hills is that there is no worry about being cold on a walk – there is always a steep slope on hand to warm you up. Our cottage is a third of the way up a hill, so this afternoon we decided to start our walk by heading straight up. That soon got the blood moving, I can tell you!

It’s so hard to capture the beauty of this scenery, all the more interesting as the clouds move away from the sun, allowing it to highlight fields momentarily
Moss covered trees along our pathway
A timer photo – we barely saw another human all day

We are certainly not complaining, but still the weather has been fine for us, allowing plenty of outdoor time. Today there was some cloud racing across the sky, giving us brief glimpses of sun as it lit up fields and trees as though spotlighting features for us to admire. The lack of vehicle noise is wonderful, with no planes, and people now discouraged from driving to the start of walks meaning that the sound of woodland birds is predominant.

The air is incredibly clear also, affording us views across to south Wales. To put that into context, here is where we sit on the map:

The green dot shows West Bagborough. The orange marking is our 11km walk circuit
Mr A admiring the view across the Bristol Channel through his binoculars
One of the wild Exmoor ponies that live up here – a horse breed native to the British Isles. There is evidence of these in Britain that dates back to 700,000 BCE
Fabulous views down to the coast, Minehead just below the headland
I just love this colour palette up here – the bracken in the foreground is already starting to show new green shoots, so it will soon change
New fern fronds uncurling
The prevailing winds help the trees lean to the left to afford us a better view

The wonderful thing about this area is that there are always new paths and routes to explore – we frequently meet a crossroads and mentally toss a coin as to which path to take this time. We have never been disappointed by what we find on the route we choose.

Daisies, celandine, primrose and blue anenomes
More curly leaves emerging
Well used pathways by hoof, foot and mountain bike
The first bluebell – will have to hunt out the best place to photograph these
On the homeward stretch across the fields, hat-free as the wind has dropped

And so ends the final day in March.

When we started the year, we thought we would be spending spring hiking and biking our way through Spain and Portugal with the odd break for port and wine tasting. While 2020 has not quite gone as anyone expected, we feel so fortunate to be able to spend our exile in such beautiful surroundings, thankfully with internet so we can remain in contact with friends and family and the ever more frequent Zoom parties.

We hope everyone reading this remains virus-free and healthy, and that it won’t be too long before we can all be physically social once more.

Another fine sunset to conclude the day and month…

One Reply to “29-31 March: Watching spring emerge”

  1. So glad you’ve found a beautiful enriching environment to settle into for a while. My Dad’s family harks from Somerset and we’ve always enjoyed our jaunts in the area. What a wonderful experience to slow down watching spring emerge.

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