20090808_Another short Lacock Circular Walk
Who : Just Me
Where : Lacock + Reybridge, Wiltshire, England
Maps : 1:25,000 OS. Explorer Map No.156, Chippenham & Bradford-On-Avon
Start + End Point : 918, 682 (car park in lacock)
Approx Distance : about 2.5 miles (4 km)
Heights : One very simple short rise up Nethercote on tarmac lane, from the Ford.
Parking : There is limited on street parking in the village, but due to the popularity of the place there is a car-park situated just outside the village on Hither Way … Just follow the sign posts off the Chippenham to Melksham Road.
Public Transport : A bus passes through the village picking up and dropping off near The George on West Street
Summary : A gentle circular walk based on Lacock village in Wiltshire, including Lacock itself; The Ford; Nethercote Hill, Hamlet of Reybridge, River Avon; Water Meadows near Lacock Abbey and back to the Village.
I did this walk on the last day of our holidays (8th Aug) and it is very similar to another walk I did earlier in the holiday (5th Aug) only this one is just a tiny bit longer and now takes in the hamlet of Reybridge and the opposite bank of the River Avon. A good chunk of the walk takes in the same ground and I make my apologies now to anyone who’s read my earlier diary as some of it may seem very familiar in parts.
Lacock is such a brilliant place to visit, a picture perfect olde worlde Cotswold village of mellow limestone cottages, friendly pubs, interesting shops and a charming church and that’s not mentioning the Abbey and Fox Talbot Museum. Please see my earlier diary posts for some more info’ on the attractions in the village.
We try to visit Lacock at least once a year, and it was a lovely early morning (hadn’t seen many of those this summer) with mists hanging about in valley following the course of the River Avon. So I decided to take a walk over to Reybridge to try and capture some pic’s of the mists before they were burned off by the rising sun …. I was dressed, with boots on, and I was off out before the family were stirring.
To keep the chronology of my pictures correct, I’m going to write this post as if I’d started at the top of Nethercote Hill, as that’s where I got my camera out and slowed down enough to properly appreciate the surrounding countryside. Even though the mists below were disappearing quite rapidly, the light was lovely as the dawn emerged from over Bowden Hill in the distance. There are several footpaths that run away from the dead end of Nethercote Hill, and the route taken this morning was through a large kissing gate off on the right, opposite a terrace of cottages. From the kissing gate I followed the narrow strip of tarmac path and as it began to drop across the field, some lovely views across the wide valley opened up ahead.
I loved the muted early morning colours and sounds and there wasn’t anyone else around … it almost felt like the countryside had been put there just for my benefit, a thought that can only happen when you walk alone … irrational – yes, but a brill’ feeling all the same. I stepped it out really quite quickly trying to get down to the hamlet of Reybridge before the mists were gone. This is a lovely spot with thatched cottages, English country gardens, a serene river and a perfectly proportioned multi-arched stone built bridge. The Wiltshire Avon makes a lovely scene here, the setting is quite superb. On the down side, insurance against flooding here must be so expensive.
A few years ago, I tried to take my family on a footpath swinging around to the east of New End Farm from near Rey Mill and then to head southwards over to Bewley Green, but we couldn’t get through because of a sweet corn crop blocking the way. I decided to go and see if the path was “on the ground” now as I was curious to see where the path would take me this time. Immediately after crossing the bridge at Reybridge, I crossed the fence on the left and headed diagonally over the field, (a faint line in the grass showing the route) to meet a drive heading towards the old mill buildings hidden away off to the left. This drive is not a right of way and I believe the mill it services is now owned by Camilla (wife of Prince Charles) and perhaps the future Queen of the Realm …. I suspected I was being watched from hidden eyes somewhere, a very odd feeling and I resolved to be particularly accurate at my route finding.
Crossing over the drive, I picked up a path somewhat enclosed by hedges and fences. Doubled up fencing and more young planting on the mill side of the path had not grown too thick or high yet, but it will obliterate any possible view over towards the mill area at some time in the future. I was careful about the direction I pointed my camera and in the end just didn’t take any pic’s here at-all. Sad to think I was intimidated this way by such unsaid signals. Maybe it’s a sign of how security has filtered down into our lives that I felt this way, but I did feel quite uncomfortable and not particularly welcome. After a short while, the path emerged at the point where I couldn’t get through some years before. It was de-ja-vu all over again …. enormously high sweet corn plants barred the way and there was no way around the field margins either …. so much for our right of way on our footpath network ! I do hope the field is not owned by our Royal Family, I would be extremely sorry to know if it were they who were barring my way.
I had a brief skirt around the paths that were open hereabouts just to ensure I was indeed reading my map properly and had got the right place where I wanted to go. After a while I gave up and retraced my steps back to the Avon at Reybridge. I didn’t cross the bridge again though; instead I crossed the fence on the opposite side of the road, to pick up the eastern bank of the river, heading more or less southwards. The path ahead was well trodden following the bank of the river quite closely (not quite as shown on my map) giving views back over to Nethercote Hill. The riverscapes were very pretty as the stream meandered on, all soft gentle colours as the dawn sun warmed the countryside – Beautiful without being spectacular.
After a while the path had to leave the river bank to head over the water meadow flood plain with cows and horses grazing and with glimpses of Lacock Abbey in the distance. The path should have dropped through a depression in the ground (an old course of the river), but the bogginess after all the recent rain made it more expedient to skirt the classic ox-bow lake (I think every-one remembers this term from geography school lessens) to emerge onto a lane to the left of the arched stone bridge ahead.
Once on the road I turned left for a closer look at the small chapel nearby. I then headed back down the road to cross the bridge with its double sets of arches, picked up another raised walkway and then a tarmac path alongside the road heading west beside a stone wall, the boundary to Lacock Abbey, with views across to the mansion lit up by the morning sun. The Cotswold limestone building almost glowed – super!
Not long after, the road brought me into Lacock Village near the entrance to the Abbey and Fox Talbot Museum. Not far from here is the main village car park and it’s here that it’s most likely you’ll park (on Hither Way) if you want to do this walk. The village itself was still very quiet with only one or two people walking dogs. After passing The Red Lion pub, I headed to the village store to get a paper for my wife to read on the journey home …. but it was still so early the shop hadn’t opened yet, and still had 10-15 minutes to go before opening time …. so I headed back to our holiday “home” for a cuppa and to pack up for the journey home.
Incidentally, if you do this walk and you’ve parked up at the main car park, the quickest route to get to the top of Nethercote Hill and the start of this diary, is to get to The Red Lion, take the road directly opposite (East Street) pass the Tythe Barn (or Tithe Barn if you prefer that spelling); the Old Lock-Up; Village Hall and Jewellers to reach Church Street (the Bakers shop is opposite the junction). Turn right to pass The Carpenters Arms and King John’s Hunting Lodge Tearooms and then turn left into Nethercote just before you reach St. Cyriac’s Church. The lane feels like you are now leaving the village and you’ll soon reach the picturesque ford (The Bide Brook) and it’s pack-horse bridge. Once past the ford and the cottages at the far side, the lane rises quite sharply to reach the dead-end and the path towards Reybridge. That’s the quickest route, but I defy you to actually walk it quickly …. The village is so beautiful you really will want to explore it’s few streets and attractions more than just walking straight through! … or maybe the way to do it is to not linger immediately and save the exploration for after the walk!
Wow, such a lot of words for such a short walk …. an indication of how nice this walk is. “Nice” is an over used, non-descriptive sort of word, but it sums up this morning’s walk quite, ummm, errr, “nicely”.
I guess that’s the end of this post, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
Next walk = 20090819_Coventry War Memorial Park Perimeter Walk.