Croeso i Gymru 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿…….

Another grey day dawned and though the clouds were quite heavy at times, it remained dry. We said a fond farewell to the goats and squirrels in Cheddar Gorge and I’m fairly certain there was a little goat like cheer as no more shall their early morning graze be interrupted by the hysterical barking of Poppydog!

As planned, we were on our way just before midday with an easy 60 mile journey ahead of us, being mostly motorway. I’m afraid I shouldn’t have done this but I did!

Or this! (I was driving at a steady 47 miles per hour and with both hands on the steering wheel and Poppydog takes a lousy photo!)

We were soon driving through the NT property and parkland of Tredegar House and Country Park, just outside Newport in South Wales, within the boundaries of which is our home for the next two weeks.

Once set up, we went to explore our surroundings, finding a lovely walk around the parkland, taking glimpses of the house from all directions.

Well I think both Poppydog and I agree, this will do nicely!

Two thoughts of the day:

I shall be spending the next 6 months travelling around the coast of Wales – time enough to learn Welsh? Probably not! Where would you even start?

Now bring on a truly spectacular Welsh summer!

Last day in England…..

Well I’m afraid yesterday the rain stopped play – again! Still it was an opportunity to spend the last bit of quality time with Dad and Holly for a while, rounded off with a nice freshly baked pizza from Sainsbury’s and of course a suitably chilled glass of wine!

Today dawned dry and mostly managed to stay so. After driving up to the M4 north of Bristol to meet Paul, it was time to say cheerio to Dad (who will hopefully join me again on my travels later on in the year) and Holly (who after spending time catching up with family and friends will return to Canada until Christmas) and continue our epic journey.

We stopped off at the Reservoir for a last walk round (it is 2.2 miles around) enjoying the dramatic skyline and reflections off the water.

Just enough breeze to keep the sailors happy.

And more dramatic skies over the Mendips and Gorge.

Two thoughts of the day:

What a lovely bonus to this trip – some quality family time.

Wales here we come!

Wells – what a fabulous city….

A very sunny interval kind of day, which was ideal, as we had planned a trip to Wells, only about 9 miles from here. My kind of city, not very big, clean, relatively quiet and full of character.

The cathedral is an architectural masterpiece surrounded by beautiful old buildings, many of which now house classrooms for Wells Cathedral School.

The Music Faculty, from where we could hear arpeggios being performed on various different instruments.

The interior of the Cathedral defies description just look.

The detail and workmanship is incredible, especially when you consider the timeline and the resources that would have been available.

Imagine the sound of this organ being played?

My favourite was this incredible clock which was completed in 1390 and has been operational for over 600 years, on the quarter hour the 4 knights on the little platform at the top joust and the same knight has been knocked down every quarter hour since then! That by my reckoning is more than 21 million times – possibly time for a career change? This clock not only shows the 24 hour clock but the moon cycle as well – a truly awesome work of art!

From the Cathedral we went into the market square to a small bakery to pick up something for a late lunch, which we enjoyed sitting by the moat to the Bishop’s Palace.

As Wells appears to have a surfeit of pigeons it did cross my mind to offer Poppydog to the city as a form of deterrent?

We didn’t go in to the Bishop’s Palace but enjoyed a wander around the grounds where croquet was being played on the lawn – oh Poppydog so wanted to join in!

From the Palace, we walked along Vicar’s Close, originally designed as lodgings for the men of the choir and completed in 1363 and is now the only completely medieval street left in England.

How fabulous is this street with all houses still lived in – what a great place for a street party?

As we wandered around the city, every street was home to at least one little gem.

Great day out in the city.

Two thoughts of the day:

Fish fingers, mash and peas with lashings of ketchup – mmmmm!

The running costs of the Cathedral are £4500 per day! I get a bit miffed if I have to spend more than £15 per day on site fees!

Along Top Road to Draycott…..

A bit of an iffy start to the day with some proper April Showers, but the sun came out to play after lunch so we took a windy single track lane that runs half way up the Mendips to Draycott.

The tree lined lane afforded glimpses down over Cheddar across the valley to the Reservoir and beyond.

With the fragrant wild garlic just coming into flower along the verges.

Until we dropped down into Draycott, being welcomed by the imposing Parish Church.

Nothing too significant in the village itself, which was very quite and peaceful, with some beautifully well kept older properties, so we just wandered around a bit and then tried to make our way back south of the A371, but unfortunately were unable to make any meaningful headway without taking a massive detour.

So we headed back the way we came. Still a good rural 8 mile walk, so I’m done in, even if Poppydog could do it all again!

Two thoughts of the day:

Am enjoying some early morning (thanks Poppydog!) walks up through the gorge whilst it is still quiet – just us and the goats!

Am enjoying this village site much more than I thought I would and the car is having a break too!

Cheddar family time….

Well we have just had a fabulous weekend with all the family in Cheddar. Dad is staying for the week in a static caravan on the site next door, Holly (my daughter who currently lives in Vancouver) is sharing with me and Poppydog for the week, Paul my brother who lives in Rickmansworth, stayed overnight with Dad, Mike my brother, his wife Di and John their son, travelled up from Cadgwith on the Lizard, staying overnight in a B&B along with Tom (my son) and Meg (his girlfriend) who travelled up from Truro. Full house! Well it was around midday when the heavens opened and there were 9 of us and one very excited Springer squeezed into Peggy!!

Fortunately the rain didn’t last for long, so after lunch we took a stroll into Cheddar up to the gorge for ice cream.

The thunder and lightning rolled in and out as forecast and we just caught the start of the torrential rain, soaking us to the skin in seconds! No problem, we were soon ensconced in Dad’s spacious lounge quaffing Chinese and a considerable amount of beer and wine! A lovely, lovely day.

Sunday dawned bright and clear and after a leisurely breakfast (fat boy size for those staying in B&B), we again wandered up to the gorge, a few of us deciding to go into Gough’s Cave. No we are it having a group chat on the phone, we are listening intently to the commentary!

I have to say, it was ok but not riveting and if the £12.95 entry had not included tea and cake at the end, I would have felt robbed!

The cafe was outside overlooking the gorge, so we enjoyed our drink, watching the groups of classic cars and motorbikes travelling through the Gorge.

After purchases of local fudge, cider and of course cheese and a wooden giraffe! were made, followed by more ice cream it was sadly time for fond farewells and return journeys. It has been such a lovely bonus for us all to get together, it is not often that we all make it, apart from Christmastime and indeed that will be the next occasion- so thank you, my lovely family.

Paul did ask, as he was leaving, if I could make my blog a bit more depressing and dull, as he finds it hard to read about my adventures whilst he is sitting or standing on the London Underground on his way into work! Well Paul, I’m sorry but ‘no’, I am living my dream and will tell it as I find it!

Along Cheddar Yeo to Axbridge….

Another glorious day, oh yes this is just what we want, long may it last. We had a lovely 7.5 mile walk today, directly from the site entrance, we followed a footpath along by the Cheddar Yeo (river) for about 3 miles. It was really peaceful, just meadow after meadow.

Some of the meadows looked safe for Poppydog to zoom around and enjoy herself (which is always preferable to me being dragged along behind her!). To be fair she probably could have ‘off roaded’ most of the way, but to be on the safe side I put her back on the lead as we passed from field to field. It was so peaceful, not even a murmur of distant traffic, just birdsong to keep us company and we didn’t meet any other bods all the way!

We crossed a small bridge at Moorhouse Barn and turned in towards Axbridge up a farm lane.

And what a delightful little place Axbridge is?

Fabulous Tudor buildings mingle with more recent Edwardian houses around a small square, which on this sunny day was a great place to have a cold drink, share a packet of crisps with Poppydog and watch the world go by (and the buses squeeze themselves round the tiny little bends and rather random road junctions). The Tudor building on the left corner is King John’s Hunting Lodge, now a museum owned by the National Trust.

Before moving on we popped into the splendid Parish Church of St John, look at that ceiling!

We walked back via Cheddar Reservoir, which looked stunningly different in the full sunshine.

Even the ducks looked happier!

What a great day, this site is proving to be a hit with all the walks available, we haven’t needed the car at all yet.

Two thoughts of the day:

A heatwave has got to be at least a couple of months long before it counts as one – just saying!

Had to get the caravan manual out to work out how to keep the windows propped open! Tighten the knobs on the struts!

Cheddar Gorge Clifftop walk on the hottest day of the year?……

Today dawned bright and sunny as promised and after basking in the sunshine for most of the morning, we decided to do the Clifftop Walk, which is a 3.5 miles ‘strenuous’ circular walk. The walk takes you up one side of the Gorge, along the top and down the other end, then you cross the road and do the same all over again on the other side! For anyone considering, giving it a go, I will say the left hand side, starts and ends with a very cruel steep climb, whereas the right hand side is slightly (very slightly) less so and you have ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ as an aid (if you enjoy Steps, all 274 of them) on the way down. Also please note that the terrain is quite uneven and stoney, so at no point can it be considered easy going!

Having said all that, the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking.

Both out to the coastline of the Bristol Chanel, across to Wales and of course the other side of and indeed down into the gorge.

There were a few other folk, out and about doing the same thing, but sitting up on top, of either (or indeed both) in the full sun, with a lovely cooling breeze, was just incredible – pity I haven’t painted any stones yet as I would have left one on top of each! It was well worth the climb and I’m not sure who was panting the louder of Poppydog or I at points. I have the feeling that my face and shoulders might be a tad pink later!

At the end of the walk we resisted the temptation to sit in a pub garden to recharge, but carried on the mile or so back to camp and are now sitting in the semi shade, recharging over a well earned glass of wine (me that is, Poppydog happy with food and water).

Two thoughts of the day:

Was today the best day to go on such an expedition? Probably not, but I wanted to see the views on this clear day.

We shall both sleep well tonight! Oh and I’ve just got my flip flops out for the first time – oh yes!

The wind was whipping up quite a surf at Cheddar Reservoir……

Another grey day, but with quite a stiff breeze blowing, making it feel a bit chilly too! Still tomorrow is the day, allegedly! Today we thought we would follow the Strawberry Line (Route 26 cycle path) and head towards Axebridge – well that was the plan..

Something to do with being unable to complete this section as there are bats hibernating in a tunnel?!!! Anyhow it was a simple detour around a section of the Cheddar Reservoir.

We then rejoined Strawberry Line until Axebridge, which was a nice gentle stroll through a tree lined walk.

Rather than venture into Axebridge today, we rejoined the walk around the Reservoir at Axebridge Sailing Club and watched a few brave wind surfers who were out enjoying the brisk breeze.

The ducks however, were finding it a tad choppy and were cowering around the edge!

A tumble of black faced, scruffy looking sheep popped up to wind (successfully) Poppydog up – I am so glad I had decided to keep her on a lead! I am not actually sure what she would do, hopefully just chase them, but I always imagine a ‘Fenton like’ episode!

The distant Mendip Hills add a certain drama as a backdrop to the choppy waters of the Reservoir don’t you think?

Two thoughts of the day:

Now the heatwave is due tomorrow- is it going to arrive?

Really looking forward to a family get together here at the weekend.

Cheddar Gorge or cheese?….

Wayhay! The sun was actually shining when we went out for our morning walk.

It did however soon cloud over, but it stayed dry with little glimpses of sunshine, so am happy with that! Later we went to explore Cheddar a little more and found the old village to be a fun mix of shops, galleries and tea rooms. From the pretty ponds, streams and waterfalls in the centre.

To the Cheddar Cheese shop and an old fashioned sweetie shop with its own doorway for Oompa Loompas!

We even found some old skeletons basking in the sun, laughing at us passerby’s peering in at them.

And a wooden horse enjoying the view from its veranda, which it shared with an army of wooden ducks wearing hobnailed boots (was very tempted by these) and lots of other wooden delights.

Oh and we thought these Easter window displays in a tea room were delightful.

To complete our tour, we walked up through the gorge, following the roadside, as we seemed to have missed the footpath somehow! The Gorge us just beautiful, so peaceful and serene and yet incredibly overpowering looking up the sheer magnificence of the rocks. The only sounds are those of the birds up high and the bleeting of the odd mountain goat as they graze their way through the greenery, perched in the most precarious little ledges.

The limestone Gorge is in the Mendip Hills, formed after the ice age, with the river now running underground through the caves until it emerges at the bottom of the gorge in Cheddar. We shall explore the caves at a later date but for today we really enjoyed walking up the gorge and taking in its sheer magnificence!

Two thoughts of the day:

Jacob’s ladder, 274 steps up to a viewing tower (which is closed to refurb until the summer) on top of the cliff and you have to pay for the privilege! Might just take a rain check on that one!

Only a few miles (15) inland from our last stop, but very different countryside.

Inland a bit to Cheddar…..

Still grey, really is getting rather tedious! Just to help us along we had rain whilst we broke camp and more when we set up camp, in between it was dry!

Still once we were all set up in our new location, just on the outskirts of the village of Cheddar it was dry, so we set off to explore. Immediately from the site is access to a footpath that follows the river Axe (the old one apparently!) so though a little muddy this will do nicely for our morning walks.

Or as we did today, the footpath which is also a cycle path that leads into the centre of the village. We had a nice wander around, few shops, cafes, this rather charming monument and a rather splendid church.

Will no doubt discover more as the week progresses, but a good hour and half round trip was enough for today, it is surely wine o clock?

Two thoughts of the day:

Dead chuffed with myself for hitching up and unhitching completely unaided! And in the rain ☔️

Now let’s see if the weathermen are as good at predicting good weather as they have been of predicting bad of late!