Friday 2nd March 2018
As temperatures appear to have settled at fairly comfortable and spring-like double figures, there’s a suggestion that the southern half of the UK could be set to face further snowfall and sub-zero temperatures, as of the coming weekend!
Some sources contradict this. All I know for certain is that the wind continues to head or way from the east… Just as it did over a week ago now, when we saw the first significant snowfall for several years.
There’s no chance I was going to risk the seven-mile journey to work. Driving home the night before had been enough of an experience. Down in North Somerset, we were in the midst of a ‘Red’ weather warning from the Met Office.
Embracing the occasion (and the opportunity of a long weekend), I decided to set off on a walk from home. Boots on, bag packed, camera batteries charged and I would even be taking my walking poles with me (normally, I’m very self-conscious of being seen with ‘too much’).
Heading west from Wrington, my destination was the neighbouring village of Congresbury. Although not pictured, one of my aims was to deliver three unwanted coats, each in very good condition, to a pub (The Old Inn) who were collecting in preparation for a homeless charity drop in the centre of Bristol at a later date.
I’d decided I would follow the Two Rivers Way; a twenty-mile long footpath that crosses North and North East Somerset, as far as Keynsham from here. There was the option of following the road but, I could see it had not been cleared, remained possibly untreated and the covering was a good few inches thick in places.
I could’ve climbed up on to the Mendip Hills, where past experience has taught me that I can reach the highest point in no more than one hour from my home… On a good day! No doubt, it would’ve been a challenge to even get as far as the A38.
I don’t often walk through this particular field as it tends to be heavily rutted and almost boggy in all months outside of summer. This is partly due to the grazing of cattle and the footpath’s close proximity to the stream, without any form of defensive bank. It may be considered as a tributary of the Congresbury Yeo.
I did like the ‘bubbling’ snow on top of the water, here. Crossing the field, I felt the constant crunch of ice under foot, from what would normally be surface water.
A wooden footbridge leads over the Congresbury Yeo river, which in turn guides the way in to the village.
An impressive snow drift from the eastern end of the bridge, which several more to follow.
This is the weir close to Iwood Manor. I don’t often take notice of it, even though the fields are generally drier beside it. This time, I notice a (new) wooden kissing gate leading in to the garden beyond… I assume it’s private, in spite of the lack of lock or signage.
I don’t think any vehicle with less than four-wheel drive had passed along Iwood Lane, as I crossed safely to continue my riverside walk.
So far, I’d been following in the footsteps of several others on this day. I was greatly surprised by this, as I rarely ever see other people walking this route until I’m closer to Congresbury.
Perhaps they’d found their way along this walk for similar reasons to my own…
To experience the snow without travelling far.
My favourite drifts of the day, by far, were the ones following the riverbank.
Untouched and formed perfectly by nature. Almost Antarctic.
Evidence of a tree and wood’s thermal properties, in the absence of fire.
That almost-star-shaped hole towards the top of the snow-arch is from the snow basket of my walking pole. At around 90mm in diameter, I purchased these after sinking above my knees in snow on the Black Mountains, back in December.
I was pleased to be able to get them wet and cold, if not dirty, on this day.
Close to civilisation, I was lining up a shot of the weir at Congresbury when I took one step too close to the bank and my legs dropped in to the drift beneath me. Before I realised what had happened, I was unintentionally sat in the snow and resigned to wriggle my way back out, at the same moment as two onlookers were crossing the footbridge!
How I wish I could’ve caught it on camera!
Heading towards the Millennium Bridge, I could see where a portion of the village had decided to spend their day. Dozens of kids taking turns to slide down the small slope. Parents, looking cold but probably glad to be off work. Plastic sledges, everywhere…
I did wonder: How many parents had those sledges in their garages and how many rushed out to buy them in the preceding week?
On a more tragic note, I recently read a news article via social media that told of how, in several parts of the UK, parents, children and teenagers had chosen to abandon their broken sledges in the countryside.
I soon arrived at the A370 and western end of the Two Rivers Way path. This road had been cleared but there was barely a car to be seen or heard. It was never even this quiet on Christmas Day!
Had I been able to escape Wrington in my car, I could’ve possibly made it to within a couple of miles of my workplace…
People were still driving in this, in spite of the constant warnings to ‘not travel’ unless its absolutely necessary. 4×4-owning volunteers were required to help NHS staff complete their shifts and provide the indispensable service, while much of the southern half of the UK shutdown.
Further south in Devon, the scenes were even worse, with sections of the motorway closed off and cars left stranded or abandoned.
Do people in ‘The North’ really just carry on through this?
I continued along the Strawberry Line for a bit, where I found that the rhynes on either side of the cycle path had frozen over.
While the Congresbury Yeo continued to flow.
I’d walked about three-miles so far and, with filming and photography, it had taken me close to ninety-minutes. In drier conditions, this would only have been a one-hour walk.
Considering my options after the coat drop-off, I decided that it would only make sense to head back the very same way. I’m not as familiar with other paths running parallel and there is no equally-direct path route towards Wrington.
By this time, the snow had started falling again and quite heavily; almost as much so as on the previous afternoon.
Having sat down in the warmth of a building for my lunch-hour, I was suddenly feeling the cold, in spite of my layers and for the first time of this day. I think I’d allow the liners that I wear inside of my waterproof gloves to become wet and, as for my Salomon boots, well… If you’ve owned a pair, you’ve probably also found that they’re not as going at keeping the water out as they are at providing comfort.
Another hour of walking and I would be warmed up, if not very close to Wrington and that impending cup of tea.
Before heading home, I decided to stop off and explore the local churchyard. Despite living only ninety-seconds from here, I’d not set foot in this yard for as much as three-years.
One day, I’ll make it inside to explore the church!
Somewhere in this yard (perhaps I’ll search for it on a warmer day), lies the resting place of philosopher John Locke. Also, I believe Hannah Moore was laid to rest, here.
I was back home, ready warm up and with plenty of time to spare before night would fall. I did enjoy looking out the window as late as 23:00 on Thursdsay and Friday evening, where the scene was much brighter than usual, with all artificial light extinguished. I only wish I could’ve captured that clearly on camera.