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!


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


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!


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?


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.


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.


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.



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:


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!


Autumn at Langford Heathfield


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.


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.

2016-10-22-15-11-06-hdrUsually, it is pretty muddy at this time of year, but I could easily have done the walk without my walking boots. A lovely peaceful walk.

France 2016


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Distance: I estimate the full circular route to be 8-9km, we walked about 6km

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.

Ash Common Circular Walk

Walk Details

Distance: 8km

Terrain: Combination of Tarmac roads, rough lanes and fields. Long trousers are essential to combat the stinging nettles!

Walk Guide: we followed this circular walk guide.

A promising 5 mile walk on the foothills of the Brendon Hills which begins at Ash Common, a pretty section of common land. The route started off on country roads then branched off into much rougher and steeper lanes then through fields and bridle ways.

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The walk started to decline about halfway round, when we had to walk through a field with three ponies in it who were all blinkered. I am not usually frightened by horses, but these seemed quite skittish and unpredictable and followed us right across the field at speed, not helped by a duck deciding this was the best moment to suddenly ascend into flight.

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So, it was with some relief that we went through a section of woodland and left the horses behind. However, the footpath which led back to the farm was severely overgrown with stinging nettles, and although we soldiered most of the way through, we were unable to make the last section where the nettles were at least knee high, so were forced to turn round with our battle scarred legs.

Unwilling to head back through the horse field, we walked along what was initially marked a public bridleway before being told we were trespassing by the landowner in a field which actually contained some llamas. I think we were, albeit unintentionally, although my profuse apologies seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Soon back on another bridleway, although not the one we were looking for, we made it through to the village of Ash Priors, and a short walk back to the car.

And just in case our walk wasn’t bad enough, I found a tick in my sock when I got home! So, lesson learned – long trousers, insect repellent and an OS map next time I venture out!!

Swell Wood Heronry

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Walk details

Distance: 2.5km

Terrain: Narrow footpaths with a couple of sections of steep steps.

Location: Grid reference ST360238 – A378 between Fivehead and Curry Rivel, Somerset

I am so glad I discovered this RSPB site when I did because the nesting herons and little egrets have almost all gone. Swell Wood is the largest heronry in South West England and is on a ridge overlooking the Somerset Levels.

There are actually two walks at Swell, one is a short accessible path (Woodland Walk) for buggies and wheelchairs and the other, Scarp Walk, is a slightly longer scramble up and down the escarpment.

I was a little disappointed that the Scarp Walk did not afford views over the levels due to the woodland, however it was a pleasant sojourn in the shade nonetheless, and I was delighted to spot some stinking iris – pretty, despite their name.

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But the obvious highlight for me was the time spent in the hide with my binoculars scanning the treetops for herons. There were at least two herons nests and I also spotted a little egret. I confess that I had no idea until this point that such large birds nested in the top of trees- always assuming they nested on the ground. It never ceases to amaze me what wonderful wildlife we have in Britain.


Wellington Monument -a quick and dirty walk

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Walk Details


Terrain: a flat section to the monument then a steep descent with steps and ascent as you loop around the promontory. Some of the latter section of path is covered in prominent tree roots.

Location: large car park ST143 167

This is a great local all-seasons walk for me which offers views across Wellington from the top of the Blackdowns. It is a real shame that Wellington monument is fenced off to the public – I remember a time when it was possible to walk up inside it.

The land and monument is now managed by the National Trust who have recently undertaken a lot of work to remove some of the woodland surrounding the monument so that you can access the views which have been hidden for the past 30-40 years.

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Although it is only a short walk, it is a pretty popular place with lots of dog walkers and families out for a stroll, and there is plenty of space to sit and have a picnic and fly a kite!

Watch out for the giant hemlock in the Summer which grows along the avenue between the car park and monument.

Full details of the National Trust walk can be found here.

NOTE: Apologies for the bad photos – my phone camera seems to have died!