Tag Archives: bluebells

Hunting for Bluebells, Dunham Massey walk

I worried that moving north would make the tradition of bluebell hunting on my birthday much harder, and I was right, but on the 22nd of April we still found lots of them, though it seemed perhaps they weren’t quite at their height.

The walk from Altrincham to Durham Massey also wasn’t quite a country walk, but it had its moments.

From the town:

 Dunham Massey Walk

With its suspicious great-coated highwaymen and thieves:

Dunham Massey Walk

I confess, though, I love these few weeks when we get to walk softly through a world of flower petals:

Dunham Massey Walk

We had a bit of country lane before arriving at the deer park crawling with human beings (and a few highly indifferent deer):

Dunham Massey Walk

I confess I didn’t love the house (once belonging to the Earls of Warrington and then Stamford) so much as the old brick outbuildings — some of them from the original Elizabethan period I imagine, like the mill:

Dunham Massey Walk

Dunham Massey Walk

The stables (and everything being surrounded by such beautiful stretches of water really helps):

Dunham Massey Walk

These are places of work, unlike the ostentation of the house which is a thing of Empire. And if you weren’t sure, they immortalised a black figure right dead centre in front of it to remind you:

Dunham Massey Walk

Not a slave, the plaque is quick to proclaim, but a moor. Cemented into eternal service.

Durham Massey Walk

We were there for the bluebells though, I admit I should have chosen a wilder wood, with no memories of slavery and long stretches of bluebells to be stumbled across at will, but ah well. They were beautiful here none the less.

Dunham Massey Walk

Dunham Massey Walk

Dunham Massey Walk

Durham Massey Walk

The other spring flowers were also stunning, they have truly done a wonderful job making this a winter/early spring garden with color lasting beyond all of the crocuses and most of the daffodils, but before many of the other flowers are yet out.

Dunham Massey Walk

Dunham Massey Walk

Dunham Massey Walk

Dunham Massey Walk

Durham Massey Walk

Durham Massey Walk

Durham Massey Walk

Late snowdrops:

Dunham Massey Walk

The new foliage of the trees:

Dunham Massey Walk

We walked back to Navigation Road station along the Bridgewater Canal.

Durham Massey Walk

Durham Massey Walk

Returning to both Victorian industrial splendour in the shape of these 1897 Linotype works (clearly being prepared for what I imagine will be more ugly luxury flats, but I am glad they are keeping the facades at least):

Durham Massey Walk

Durham Massey Walk

Durham Massey Walk

And some more modern splendours of ugliness:

Durham Massey Walk

Durham Massey Walk

We ended the day with Fast and Furious 8, which was a ridiculous and enjoyable as expected, though this AMC cinema always make me feel as though the apocalypse has already happened when we come in this entrance.

AMC

A grand day.

Along the Cotswold Way to Cam & Dursley

This is one of the loveliest places on earth, and I saw more bluebells than I possibly may have ever seen before in my life, making Saturday a very happy day.

And of course, the train in Cam & Dursley took me to Bristol for the night.

But first?

The lane alongside the farm I am working on, full of daffodils:

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Walk to Cam & Dursley

The sun on the fields of rapeseed and the Tyndale monument in the distance (I was heading there by a slightly circuitous route):

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Edbury hill (the one hill I didn’t climb):

Walk to Cam & Dursley

The skies were amazing over the new fields.

Walk to Cam & Dursley

I came into Kingswood, a lovely village complete with the ruins of a Cistercian monastery, though the principal thing left standing is the 16th Century gatehouse:

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Walk to Cam & Dursley

A bit tricky there, getting onto the right footpath, but I managed. Sadly it took me up a hill (there are a lot of hills):

Walk to Cam & Dursley

and down again to Wotton-under-edge, which I also loved.

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Almshouses:

Walk to Cam & Dursley

This truly beautiful church:

Walk to Cam & Dursley

The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin is the town’s most important architectural feature. It is framed by trees and possesses a fine late 14th century tower. Although there was certainly an earlierSt. Mary’s church in Wotton-under-Edge church, the present building is no earlier than the 13th century and was consecrated in 1283. The whole church was by no means complete at the time of its consecration and reflects many structural changes over the centuries. The base of the tower, which has a notable peal of eight bells (cast in Gloucester in 1756), is of the early 14th century, while the upper stages form an admirable example of Perpendicular Gothic architecture of the late 14th century. It is described by David Verey in Pevsner’s Buildings of England (Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds): “It is one of the most splendid Perp towers in the county”. The South porch, which bears a sundial and has a priest’s chamber above, contains a restored 13th century doorway leading to the interior.

It is indeed beautifully austere inside, wide and full of light. The town is also home to the ancient Ram Inn, with many a claim on the title of most haunted inn in Britain:

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Walk to Cam & Dursley

It is a truly wonderful old building, its front door and window many feet below the surface of the road, I did not feel any evil exhalations, but some believe the devil himself lives here, along with twenty or more ghosts. I am more afraid of strangers than ghosts, so I did not knock on the door and ask for a tour.

From here I started walking along the Cotswold Way, it was most beautiful and most wonderfully marked as well, which is always a pleasure after the wrong turns that always arise trekking across fields. Yet another hill is climbed to get onto it properly:

Walk to Cam & Dursley

And then began the bluebells, bluebells and more bluebells. Like woods, I find them so utterly beautiful yet also so very hard to photograph. None of these pictures really does them justice.

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Walk to Cam & Dursley

They are almost best captured in the distance, like a blue haze seen between trees.

Walk to Cam & Dursley

I love bluebelled hazes and roads not taken…

Walk to Cam & Dursley

On and still on to Blackenbury Camp.

Walk to Cam & Dursley

I found this online from the Archaeological Handbookof the County of Gloucester, by George Witts [published by G. Norman, Clarence Street, Cheltenham, n. d. (1883)]

No. 13. — Blackenbury Camp.

This stands on Westridge Hill, in the parish of Wotton-under‑Edge, and two miles south of Dursley. It consists of two banks and a ditch, running across a promontory of the Cotswold Hills, having an entrance at each end. The area enclosed is eight acres, and the measurement along the mound is about 800 yards. Rudder says this which called “Becket’s Bury.” Scattered all over the plateau of Westridge, adjacent to the camp, were found innumerable pit dwellings. Some of them were very large, being from 20 to 30 feet in diameter, and seven feet deep. Upwards of 600 small pits have been counted in the immediate vicinity; better, although they were found close up to the entrenchments of the camp, not one has been observed within the fortified area.

See Rudder’s “History of Gloucestershire,” p847.

Also “Archaeologia,” vol. XIX, p166.

Also “Proceedings Cott. Nat. Field Club,” vol. VI, p217.

I did not know to look for pits!

It is a lovely place.

Walk to Cam & Dursley

From here I walked to Tyndale’s monument. William Tyndale (1494-1536) was born very near here, and the first to translate the New Testament into English — this was heresy in his day, and he fled England for Germany (Hamburg it was said, for a while at least). He was caught in Antwerp, and sentenced to burn at the stake, though ‘mercifully’ strangled before the fire was lit. His translation was first printed the year he died. I got to the tower just as the buckets of rain began to come down. I was planning on climbing it anyway, and the view did not disappoint despite the number of stairs, to the Severn and across to Wales.

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Walk to Cam & Dursley

From the monument I continued on to perhaps my favourite place on the walk, a deeply worn part of the track that feels truly like an ancient way between the towering trees.

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Walk to Cam & Dursley

From there down into Dibley, I didn’t make it to Watery Bottom

Walk to Cam & Dursley

But down a lovely track and the light was glorious on the rain falling nearby:

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Walk to Cam & Dursley

as well as the next damn hill I was about to climb.

Walk to Cam & Dursley

A look back at the monument — you can see it for miles, and at night it is lit up beautifully.

Walk to Cam & Dursley

Then up a hill, down a hill and into Dursley. I was so ready to be done, so so ready. I hadn’t quite realised it was over two and a half more miles along a busy road through Durlsey and then through Cam and then a little stretch of countryside to get to the train station and then back to Bristol for a night.

Back to the farm now. I caught three lambs today! Somehow, someway we are going to spend Wednesday catching sixty.

Cam & Dursley Walk

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Woods in Spring Time

Beeches, great wonderful trees in lovely woods still carpeted with fall(en) leaves and still only the lightest shading of a new year’s green:

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Oaks:

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Wild garlic:

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And bluebells

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a mist of them through the trees

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Somehow they are never as beautiful in pictures as they are when you stand before them and your heart rises. The wild cherry trees are rather more photogenic.

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And this, my favourite picture of them all I think.

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These are all from the Chilterns, we were staying in Nettlebed for a wedding in Bix stealing the thunder from my birthday. Perhaps my favourite cousin was worth it. I love the chalky hills full of flint, the villages of old brick and flint in patterned beauty. I was hoping to find old chalk cottages but we never managed to get there. Instead we found mansion after mansion, fence after residential fence scattered through hills, and more than one of these new kinds of meadow:

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The people were absolutely the least endearing feature of this countryside. Though I will also never forget the cows.

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We made it back for wine however.

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