Hilton Falls, Halton

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Walk Details

Distance: Approx. 5km

Terrain: Woodland paths – some steep

Price: $6.75 adult, $5.00 child – I now realise we are spoilt in the UK with not having to pay to access our natural habitat!

Amenities: Visitor centre at the main car park and natural toilets en route!

I loved this family walk to Hilton Falls when I stayed with my sister in Canada a couple of months ago. The boys went ahead on mountain bikes and we sauntered off with a rendezvous point at the campfire by the falls. We had Mel’s little King Charles Spaniel trotting along with us.

From the car park, we took the Hilton Falls Trail initially upward to the falls. It is so lovely to see some different flora and fauna – these chipmunks are quite a common sight but are so sweet! I thought that the flower (above) was a hellebore, but it is a May Apple.

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There had been a fair amount of rainfall in Ontario just before we visited, so the falls themselves had more water than usual. At Hilton Falls you can also see the mill ruins – what was once an old saw mill which used the water to power the mill.

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Fred wasn’t impressed with his marshmallow!

Apart from the falls, the other main attraction (certainly for the boys) was the campfire that is maintained by the conservation staff. Mel supplied some marshmallows and the children ran off to find appropriate sticks.

 

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Once sugar fuelled, we set off back to the car taking the Red Oak Trail around the reservoir. Actually the reservoir was the least picturesque part of the walk.

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There were lots of these bright Columbines at Hilton Falls.

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Toronto: Urban Street Art Walk

I have just returned from an amazing trip to Canada to visit family, and whilst there we did a funky urban walk (based on Stroll 1 from Nathalie Prezeau’s book Toronto Urban Strolls for Girlfriends).  The walk is centred around the Financial District.

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We exited Union Station onto Front Street West and headed along to Brookfield Place, where we spent an enjoyable hour (well at least for my husband and son) at the Hockey Hall of Fame. The best part about this was the fabulous stained glass panel in the roof of the Great Hall.

At Commerce Court, which is west off of Yonge Street, and which was eerily quiet on the day we went, there are some random elephants.

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Tembo, Mother of Elephants: Commerce Court, Toronto

From here we headed over to Scotia Plaza (which is a huge reddish brown skyscraper). Inside (it was also devoid of people) is an enormous picture of a waterfall.

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Our next stop was the Cloud Gardens on Temperance Street, which had a couple of parkourists (is that a word?), despite the No Parkour sign, and another guy with a mask on chanting, so needless to say we didn’t hang around!

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Usually, there is a waterfall and stream running through it and there is also a greenhouse open during the week. The different panels on the Cloud Garden wall represent different construction materials and is a monument to construction workers.

We then went off of Adelaide Street East to the Financial District Courtyard:

At Courthouse Square, where there were some more people “hanging  out” I spotted this strange mural.

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Finally, we stopped at Berczy Park (the mural is on the far side of the Flatiron Building). This kitsch dog fountain amused me – a tiered fountain of dogs with a bone at the top!

And from here, it is an easy walk back to Union Station.

I learned later that there are plenty more sculptures in the Financial District that we missed – there is an interesting article here.

Walking the West Deane Way: Langford Budville to (almost) Cothay Manor

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Walk Details

Walk Distance: Approx. 2 miles

Terrain: Combination of footpath, country road and field.

Amenities: Parking on the roadside in Langford Budville. The village pub, The Martlett Inn, has a good reputation for food, as does Scarlett’s Garden which is only open during the Summer season.

This part of the West Deane Way is much more picturesque than the other parts I have walked so far, but there were unfortunately a lot of livestock too.

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After a short walk on the main road heading out of Langford Budville, you turn right up what is ostensibly someone’s private drive before taking the narrow, overgrown footpath skirting the owner’s garden to the left. Crossing the field at the top, you reach the B3227 which you cross and follow left a short way before going off road, again down someone’s drive!

The next stretch is through pleasant woodland, which I believe belongs to the Somerset Wildlife Trust. And then we arrived at a field of horses. As mentioned previously, I am not a big fan of walking where there is livestock, but actually, these horses were good natured and not interested in us at all (phew)!

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The West Deane Way then ploughs downwards through three gloriously buttercupped fields of sheep! Departing the field at the road which is pretty much in the middle of no-where, we encountered a wild looking man on a mobility scooter with no idea of where he had come from or where on earth he might be heading!

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We crossed the River Tone on a footbridge, and followed it a little way adjacent to a pretty meadow.

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And then, we might have got a little confused with the navigation which seemed to divert us around a large field, only to end up back where we started. However, the silver lining was that we got to glimpse the most glorious bluebell wood!

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There was a large area like this, which I presume is a badgers sett. We continued walking through a little glade, dipped between two fields, and crossed another country lane before being thwarted by a field of cows. I just don’t like them and that was the end of the walk for me! I don’t think we can have been all that far from Cothay Manor either!

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Walking the West Deane Way: Roughmoor to Wellington

Walk Details

Distance: Approximately 5 1/2 miles (it took us just under two hours)

Terrain: Flat fields and footpaths

Guide: Annoyingly, Taunton Deane Borough Council have just updated their website and removed all the walk guides, including the sections of the West Deane Way! The route starts in Taunton at Goodland Gardens and the section that we have done is Walk 2 and part of Walk 3 from their guide.

I have been walking on my local section of the West Deane Way for some time since I discovered it last year. It is a long distance circular footpath of about 50 miles encompassing Taunton & Wellington in Somerset. I won’t lie to you – it’s not the most picturesque walking route ever (from the bits I have done so far), but it is local and a challenge, so I thought I would have a go!

This section of the West Deane Way starts in the Netherclay Community Woodland which is a lovely area just outside of Bishops Hull. It’s not a great start when you are faced with four different footpaths! My son, Fred, who I dragged along was not impressed (I really must learn to stop vocalising if I don’t know where we are going)! As it was, we chose the wrong one, but as the West Deane Way follows the path of the River Tone, it was quite easy to remedy this. As long as you keep the River Tone to your left, you can’t really go wrong.

The footpath then becomes less exciting  as you run parallel to Norton Fitzwarren. I admit to having a nostalgic moment passing the back of an old college boyfriend’s house on the way to the Victory Inn!

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There was a patch of wild garlic a little further on which smelled really strongly. I love the smell, but Fred held his nose.

We passed a couple of walkers at this point who told us that the pub at Bradford on Tone was shut but we weren’t planning on stopping there anyway – we were headed for Wellington and home.

IMG_20170417_115910950There are some lovely views across to the Blackdown hills and Wellington monument on the stretch to Bradford on Tone. Fred had moaned a little and I did concede that he could have a lift home from Bradford if he wanted, however, as we approached the tiny medieval bridge in the village, he brightened up and volunteered to finish the walk.

From Bradford on Tone, there is a little bit of walking on quiet country roads (and a hairy level crossing to traverse) before heading off onto a footpath at East Nynehead. This is where Walk 2 turns into Walk 3.

After a bit of field walking, we met up with the River Tone again just in time to witness a fisherman catch a fish. At Wharf Cottage, where the footpath meets the main road to Nynehead, we turned left into Wellington.

 

Grand Western Canal: Swan Neck Circular

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Distance: 5.24 km

Terrain: Majority is flat canal tow path, with a dip in and out of Halberton on country roads.

Amenities: Free parking at either Tiverton Road bridge car park, or Greenway Bridge car park, Halberton. Halberton is a small village with shops and a pub.

It must be Spring because I am back out walking again, albeit just a short circular walk! We followed walk_1-3 The Swans Neck in reverse (anti-clockwise), beginning at Greenway Bridge car park. I couldn’t persuade either teenager to come with me, which is probably just as well because the walk guide estimated a distance of 2 miles, which actually was 3 1/4!

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From the car park, we headed over the bridge and right onto the tow path. This is a lovely, and very popular path for walkers, cyclists and fishermen which follows the wide arc of the canal. It was great to look left to see other walkers across the fields on the far side of the loop. Is it just me that is fascinated by fields that have mixed crops in them – one seemed to have a selection of kale and various lettuces?

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I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see more birds out on our walk, although there were plenty of moorhens in and around the water, but no kingfisher this time.

Towards the far end of the loop at Tiverton roadbridge, there is a new bridge and picnic tables. This area is on an attractive kink in the canal.

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Dudley Weatherley Jubilee Bridge

Shortly after this, there is an option to shorten the route by about a mile along a new footpath signposted Halberton, however we stuck to the original map and continued by veering off the towpath left at Changepath Bridge (the towpath switches sides).

We continued via country lanes on into the pretty village of Halberton, past the church which is nestled right in the centre.

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St Andrews Church, Halberton

The footpath then wends its way past the village pond (reputedly warm, but not brave enough to test it) and up left past the priory. A sharp uphill right turn leads back to the car park.

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Winter Ramblings

I hold my hands up: I am a fair weather walker! I have been on some Winter walks but none seemed far enough afield to warrant posting.

For a month over Christmas, I had my eldest son, Albert home from uni who was desperate to relieve his boredom by coming walking with me (no bribes involved)! I made him scramble to the top of Burrow Mump, which was going to be the start of this walk but it started to rain quite heavily, so we abandoned.

It was quite interesting to see how much the Somerset Levels have flooded already this year.

I enjoyed a very hilly walk around the town and country lanes of Wiveliscombe which took me back to my childhood, visiting my Grandmother. We used to visit most Sundays and I always took myself off walking then. One of the Green Lanes (think this is called Jews Lane) below:

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Sometimes, though, it is great to discover new routes on your doorstep. I discovered this footpath which diverts off the West Deane way towards Nynehead and I have made this one of my “need to get some walking done without having to get in the car” routes!

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Autumn at Langford Heathfield

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There have been some beautifully sunny Autumn days recently, and I revisited one of my favourite local walks at Langford Heathfield to see how it had changed with the seasons. The late afternoon sun streamed through leaving everything with a golden glow.

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I think these fungi are Fly Agaric – they are so brightly coloured that I initially thought it was litter! It is interesting how the shade of red varies so much, from a rich scarlet to a muted orange.

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France 2016

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It seems so long ago now, but this summer, we spent a fantastic week in a gite in Poitou Charentes, not far south from Poitiers. They may be ubiquitous, but I just love seeing the fields of sunflowers in this area of France.

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La Rochelle

La Rochelle was just over an hour away for us – a great place to visit, although it is always so damned hot when we go! It was nice to take a refreshing trip out to sea with one of the many boat companies, especially as on our last visit, we didn’t actually make it out of the harbour!

We enjoyed a lovely morning messing about on the river with an electric boat at Angouleme, and I spent quite a long time trying to photograph, but failing to, these fascinating black winged dragonflies with electric blue on them – I would love to know what they were.

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We went on a few local walks near the gite, managing to almost get lost each time (I am sure my sense of direction breaks down on holiday)! This local tumulus was a really interesting place to explore.

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The gite was an absolute gem of a place, with a large garden in which I watched a hoopoe for about 45 minutes one morning. There were also apparently red squirrels and plenty of bats around the property but I didn’t spot any of those.

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Exe Valley Way: Tiverton to Bickleigh

Walk Details

Distance: 8 miles

Terrain: Mostly flat paths – some narrow, and some tree roots. Also a few fields.

Facilities: Parking is widely available in Tiverton town centre. There are pubs and cafes at Bickleigh if you need refreshment for the return trip. There are regular buses between Bickleigh and Tiverton if you can only manage one way.

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We stumbled upon the Exe Valley Way, looking for somewhere to walk on Bank Holiday Monday. The whole Exe Valley Way is 50 miles from the source to the sea and is divided into ten stages. This walk was Stage 4.

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I have to say that the start of the walk (from the car park by the museum (quite a good local museum)) was not very promising, the first mile along a road that led to a large sewage works, but then got progressively better. The walk description has not been updated since  a new route takes you at the far end of the fields on the left into the woodland.

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From here, you start to get better sight of the River Exe and there were some nice areas where it would have been nice to stop for a picnic.

Towards Bickleigh, we encountered my all time walking hatred – a field of cows. Luckily, they all looked to be feeding and we managed to skirt round them on an adjacent but very marshy path. I recently read an article about a dog walker who was almost crushed to death by cows and suffered multiple fractures.

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We rewarded ourselves with a nice cold glass of ginger beer and a light lunch at Bickleigh Mill in the sunshine before heading back. We just caught sight of a little egret fishing on the banks of the river before it flew off – a lovely end to a lovely walk.

I would definitely like to explore more of the Exe Valley Way – watch this space!

 

 

 

 

Wellington to Westford

Walk Details (updated August 2017)

Distance: 8.4km

Terrain: Fairly level

Walk Guide: We used this circular walk guide by TDBC. This walk also encompasses the Wellington Basins Heritage Trail.

Facilities: There is free parking at Wellington Sports Centre, Corams Lane, Wellington

I convinced my son Fred that he would catch some Pokemon if he accompanied me on this walk from my home town. The walk starts at the Basins which is a fairly scruffy area of ponds and streams which were once used to supply the Fox Brothers woollen mill in Wellington. This area is now quite heavily used by people walking to the neighbouring village of Rockwell Green.

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The streams are choked with Himalayan Balsam, which I have read is a bit of a scourge, albeit a pretty one!

The route continues, somewhat dangerously, over the mainline railway (there are signals) and on into Lower Westford. From here you follow the waterway through to Westford. Even though the water level was quite low, there were plenty of quite sizeable fish and we saw a dipper.

 

When we reached Prowse’s Mill, the path took us briefly into a field of bullocks. At which point Fred refused to go any further. To be fair, I am not a big fan of walking through fields with livestock and a previous experience with bullocks taught me that they can be quite persistently curious. So, our circular walk turned linear.

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To make up for our curtailed walk, we had a little diversion into Westford Community Woodland, a pretty little wild space. I would have liked to see if I could spot some wildlife but it was a hot day and Fred had had enough.

 

As much as I love going somewhere further afield for a walk, there is something to be said about exploring your local area on foot.

Update August 2017: By a curious twist of fate, I found myself walking this circular with the Somerset Young Walkers almost exactly a year later. The walk continues through a pretty village called Holywell Lake (and where the pub is shut on a Sunday!) and continues through some fields with some rather well endowed rams. It then skirts part of a disused site of the Grand Western Canal before headin cross-country back to the railway line and the basins.

Plots of opportunities to pick some ripening blackberries en route, and some of the walking group even tasted some wild plums. We all passed on the puffball mushrooms though!