When we’re not seeking adventures in exotic countries we spend a lot of time exploring our own beautiful country. Many say I don’t write enough about our Great British adventures, so here’s the first for 2018.
So far, it’s been a LONG, cold and quite wet winter. But any sign of the sun and we jump at the opportunity to be outdoors. This weekend, with a lack of surf, we donned the wellies for a muddy 12km walk in Chew Valley, roughly 9 miles south from the city of Bristol. Driving out of the city, the surrounding land dramatically changes from urban sprawl to rolling green fields gnawing to be explored.
To follow this route, download the GPX.
Chew Magna to Chew Valley Lake
Voted “The Best Village in Britain” in 2011 by the Sunday Times, we parked in the historic Saxon village of Chew Magna, famed for it’s Woollen Mills. We joined the Ramblers Association’s ‘2 Rivers Way‘ from the west of the centre, tracking the meandering the River Chew south to Chew Valley Lake.
The 5th largest lake in the United Kingdom, Chew Valley Lake takes its supply from the Mendip Hills and provides much of the drinking water for the city of Bristol and surrounding area. Here there are plenty of walking, cycling and picnic options. Plus, the teashop and award winning Salt and Malt gluten free fish and chips shop provides a great excuse for a break.
Chew Valley Lake to Stanton Drew
From here, we cut across fields, starting to track back on our looped walk. We made a slight mistake, turning right down the lane at Knowle Hill rather than left to head up to the top for views across the lake. Unfortunately the signage isn’t the best on this route, so a map and idea of where you’re headed is helpful.
For food lovers, the Michelin starred, ‘top 50’ gastro pub, The Pony & Trap is nestled on a quaint country lane 2 mins off the route. It was extremely tempting to head in for Sunday lunch but we didn’t think they’d appreciate our muddy boots.
Trudging across more muddy fields, we made our way north towards Stanton Drew where the little known third largest complex of prehistoric standing stones in England sits in a farmer’s field. Lying in untouched countryside it’s easy to appreciate their historic character. According to the English Heritage website, an entrance fee of £1 is charged for access to ‘The Great Circle‘ by the land owner, but we didn’t have any issues from the public right of way.
For those seeking another break or looking to eat towards the end of the walk, the Druids Arms in the village is a highly recommended pub. Information about ‘The Cove‘ and the rest of the stones is also available here.
Stanton Drew to Chew Magna
With the sun starting to drop, we decided to press on. The last couple of KMs are again across fields; although we were spat out a little too premature to the village and had to trek back along the busy country lane. Once finally back at the car, we ditched the muddy wellies and went for a well earned and delicious Sunday Lunch in the Bear and Swan Inn.