Sunday, 31 August 2014

From Bay to Bay Blackberrying

A glorious day in late summer with the sky a brilliant blue and a coolish breeze in the air.  What better way to spend the morning than to head off to one of the bays.   The first bus to Sand Bay on a Sunday leaves Weston at 1005 which meant I had half an hour to waste.  I wandered along the front and was fortunate enough to spot a sailing boat.  

A little further along I was greeted by the sight of Birnbeck Pier deteriorating further with every passing day.

But now it is time to board Crosville's No. 100 open top bus service and speed along the foot of Weston Woods towards Sand Bay.  Trees line the road on either side providing a canopy.  Quick - duck down as a branch comes a little too close for comfort.


Time to "Spend a Penny" in the loos at the bus terminus before heading  off to find the public footpath which starts at the end of Sand Farm Lane.  Reviews for this walk advise wearing long trousers and good walking shoes and I am pleased I had taken this into consideration before leaving because the start of the footpath was very overgrown.   

As the path headed out over the levels I was very pleased to find that it has been well signed and that the small bridges over the rhynes have been renewed.  The sheep were a little perturbed at having a strange upright animal crossing their field !

After 45 minutes I came out on Collum Lane and made my way up to Woodspring Bay.

 What a heavenly place this is. 

 The hedgerows are still full of nature's harvest so it was blackberrying all the way home to Worle.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Blackberrying along The Strawberry Line - Congresbury to Yatton


It is Bank Holiday Weekend and the seafront will be crowded with day trippers and holiday makers.  With this in mind I headed off in the opposite direction to walk another segment of The Strawberry Line – Congresbury to Yatton.

Having caught the bus from Worle I alighted just outside of Congresbury at Moor Bridge where The Strawberry Line crosses the River Yeo.   

Rivers, streams and rhynes are full of duckweed at this time of year but there is the occasional clear spot where blue sky and clouds reflect in a tranquil pool.

The path meanders through fields where contented cows chew the cud

 sheeps graze

and ponies canter

Just outside of Yatton is a colourful seat decorated with artwork from local schoolchildren
I particularly like the section devoted to butterflies

At this time of year the hedgerows are full of ripening blackberries – a wonderful treat for walkers.  Cyclists pedal on through missing the berries in the bushes.

There are benches aplenty along this part of the route so if you want to rest and enjoy the countryside there is ample opportunity.  The exit/entrance to the pathway at Yatton is marked by a unique piece of artwork depicting a steam train together with the people and wildlife who can be found using the walk.

The Strawberry Line CafĂ© awaits visitors at Yatton Station. 

The interior is cosy with comfortable seating and it is interesting to see the old photos, posters & artwork displayed on the walls.   

This is also an ideal place for a comfort stop before catching the bus or train back home.

A perfect summer’s afternoon away from the crowds.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Weston-super-Mare - The Library

The Old Library, Boulevard, Weston-super-Mare

Research entails many hours sitting in front of a computer or microfilm reader searching old newspapers for facts or interesting stories.  The North Somerset Studies Library can be found in the Frederick Wood Room at Weston Library and has a wealth of information for those interested in “things past”.  It is also worth remembering that the Library provides toilet facilities so there is no need to spend 20p on the seafront. 

The former library on The Boulevard sits forlorn and forgotten – boarded up with a sign announcing “FOR SALE”.  If I had moved to Weston a few months earlier in 2012 then I would have been able to walk through that grand entrance and seen the interior. As it is all I can do is offer a description from the past.

The ground floor accommodation comprises a ladies’ room, librarian’s room, reading room, entrance hall – also lavatory accommodation for both sexes.  The museum and picture gallery will occupy the upper floor which will be approached by a wide staircase.”

The foundation stone was laid on 1st. August 1899 declaring that the building was a memorial to the 60th. Anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria.  Dates above the entrance testify to the fact showing “1837 – 1897”.   The building was opened the following year on 3rd. September 1900.

Tragic stories always seem to leap out as I peruse the papers and today proved no exception.  In December 1901, just 15 months after the opening, a retired barrister visited the library with his wife.  Whilst the lady settled herself down with a good book in the Reading Rooms the gentleman visited the toilet.  He was gone for a good while and the lady became concerned.  It was Dr. Wallace who went in search of the missing husband.  When he entered the toilets he found the gentleman slumped on the floor - he had shot himself. 

There is a toilet block adjoining the old building on its East side but it looks as if this might have been added at a later date – perhaps in 1930 when a large extension was built?   In 2014 this block is thrown into the sale for good measure.

It is wonderful to have the new library in Walliscote Grove Road together with all its modern facilities.  I can only hope that a sympathetic buyer is found for the old Grade II listed edifice. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Uphill Salt Marsh

The Old Church of St. Nicholas, Uphill
The weather at this time of year is perfect for walking and the nature reserve to the south of Uphill village was my destination.  I presumed the village was so named because of the hill upon which sits the Old Church of St. Nicholas but apparently this is not the case.  The Domesday Book of 1086 records the name as “Opopille” whilst the Pipe Rolls of 1176 show it as “Uppehill”.  In Olde English “uppan” means above whilst “pyll” is a tidal creek – so it is more likely the village was named because it was above the tidal creek.

Uphill Salt Marsh

The muddy banks of creeks wind their way through the salt marsh providing a safe haven for small craft. 

Uphill Pill

The Wharfside Tea Rooms is perfectly located for a refreshment (and comfort) stop.  Thank goodness because the public convenience just down the road is still non operational – this time the notice reads that it is closed due to vandalism.

Black clouds were gathering overhead but as a bus had just left a walk along the beach back to Weston seemed like a good idea.  It was difficult to believe that we are in August – the height of the summer season – because the beach was deserted apart from a few kite surfers.

Kite surfers at Weston-super-Mare
Deserted beach at Weston-super-Mare

Carters Steam Fair has set up on Beach Lawns in readiness for the August Bank Holiday weekend and it was fun to see the vibrant colours and listen to all those wonderful rock n roll tunes from the 1960s. 

I smiled reading the sign on the Victory Dive Bomber which recommends that pregnant ladies and people with weak hearts should not attempt this ride.

 I am neither but still could not be tempted on !