Monthly Miles: April 2020

April was our first full month in Lockdown and, for the UK, it may prove to be our only month, if the speculation is to be believed right now. I’ve been ‘furloughed’ (off work and in receipt of 80% of my basic wage) all throughout but have managed to keep myself relatively active. Flat walks and short distances from my doorstep, where the hills are hard to find.

01/04 – 3.25 miles – Wick St. Lawrence, North Somerset
03/04 – 3.25 miles – Wick St. Lawrence
05/04 – 4.75 miles – Wick St. Lawrence
07/04 – 3.25 miles – Wick St. Lawrence
10/04 – 11 miles – Sand Bay and Sand Point
12/04 – 3.25 miles – Wick St. Lawrence
14/04 – 3.75 miles – Wick St. Lawrence
16/04 – 3 miles – Wick St. Lawrence
23/04 – 3.75 miles – Wick St. Lawrence
24/04 – 6 miles – Crook Peak, Mendip Hills
29/04 – 3.25 miles – Wick St. Lawrence
Total for April 2020 = 48.5 miles

Living on the outer fringe of Weston-super-Mare, many of my ‘Lockdown Walks’ have been set around Wick St. Lawrence; a small village and parish not a great distant from where I’ve been the past year. Since moving here, it has been the main habitat of my evening outings.

Oldbridge River.

There’s been a lot of familiarity to my routine over the past… Six weeks? That must be a feeling that’s been hard for many to avoid. I did manage to explore a couple of footpaths that were new to me – perhaps I’ll write about them in another post.

Walking beside the M5 motorway.

It was a shock, on that first Sunday in April, to head out towards the A370 on foot and cross a rather baren-looking M5 motorway.

M5 motorway on a sunny Sunday in Lockdown.

Lockdown was in full effect. In some corners of social media, there’s been a lot of negative energy and hate drawn up and unleashed towards individuals and sometimes small groups. Those who are deemed to be “Covidiots” but the few who have appointed themselves as the curtain-twitching shit-stirring Secret Police of the Coranavirus pandemic.

An unwelcome sign.

Some landowners have illegally locked gates and obstructed public rights of way through fear of contamination. Others have left notices on gates, fences, sometimes even roads – incidents like this have existed across the whole of the UK.

I’ve tried to hold on to a personal mantra:

‘Stay Safe, Keep Active, Stay Local’.

Distant view of Worlebury Hill.

My most ambitious walk of the month would take my mileage up in to double figures for the day.

Sand Point and Middle Hope.

Sand Point is a well-known peninsular of the local area and I can walk to it from my doorstep in less than two-hours. It’s not a walk I’ve done often since moving here and that’s largely because there’s only one main bridleway between there and home. So, it’s either a case of retreading familiar footsteps or following the roads.

Sand Bay.

No more than a dozen others were about and the majority were mountain bikers (some who’d driven to the only available car park). Down on the beach of Sand Bay, I recall seeing only two dog walkers… At this time of year and on a sunny day, you could otherwise expect to find ten times as many people about the local area.

I welcomed this. Where I live, I can go out for an hour-long walk at any time of day and find myself unable to avoid no fewer that a dozen others; walkers, runners, cyclists… In Lockdown, we’ve become a nation of keen exercisers, it seems!

Which leads me on to a confession…

Horses on Wavering Down, Somerset.

Shortly before the end of April, I drove for approximately twenty-five minutes from home and for the purpose of exercise. At the time, it was very much a ‘grey area’ over whether or not this was allowed. Some would say it still is! It’s not a topic I am keen to discuss because opinions remain divided and many people remain frightened of everything they read.

Crook Peak (no S!).

From a psychological point of view, I was struggling – as I sure many others have been through this experience. I was missing the space, time and freedom that I’d otherwise found through walking. I was incredibly tired and bored with the local routes that I could almost walk blindfolded. I wanted to be out and away from people. If I could plan a walk that would last even a couple of hours and expose myself to the minimum of humans, I felt that I could justify a relatively short drive.

A new roadway being built towards Brent Knoll – possibly part of the Hinkley Point C project.

I climbed Crook Peak in the reverse of what was otherwise quite a familiar walk. I saw one person (at a distance) before reaching the top; another two perhaps, crossing Wavering Down and then in to King’s Wood. Being up on that high ground with great weather, wide views and the freedom of the land before me… This was what I had been craving!

I’ll often forgo an opportunity to walk here because I’ve done it so many times before and it does get busy on a good day. But when rules and restrictions prevent you from travelling too far, you can find a way to appreciate what is close to home.

King’s Wood near Winscombe.

I was so sure that I was going to miss bluebell season this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But I was so grateful to find garlic carpeting the floor of King’s Wood, along with those desirable flowers.

Before sitting down to write this, I was certain that I’d already written about my Sand Point walk… But I must’ve been thinking of the video I released on YouTube. Perhaps I’ll write about it soon, while I feel I have little else to share.

Whatever is or isn’t announced by the government on Sunday, I hope you all remain safe, find the time to stay active and try to be kind to each other, as well as yourselves.

Current total for 2020 = 183.25 miles

Thanks for reading.

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills and I enjoy spending time outdoors. This inclues long day walks, camping trips and backpacking trails. I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Olly Outdoors (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

2 thoughts on “Monthly Miles: April 2020”

  1. It must be nice to be able to walk to the coast. I am so missing the sea in landlocked Surrey. I live here because it’s convenient for work. I live and work in the same town which means I can walk to work and not have to have a horrible commute. Instead I sort of reverse commute where I head somewhere nicer most weekends. Sadly that’s not allowed any more.

    As to the notes etc being placed on gates, that kind of attitude does appear from time to time but it’s become much more prevalent recently and it does really annoy me. The argument seems to be people that live in the countryside don’t want people from towns going there in case they get infected with Coronavirus. Yet this completely ignores the fact that most people that live in rural areas regularly travel into towns and cities, often on a daily basis for work and if not certainly weekly for shopping, events, nights out and so on. Why do they think it’s OK for them to travel into towns and cities regularly but it’s not OK for people that live in towns and cities to travel to the countryside? After all if they did have Coronavirus, they would likely infect far more people in a town or city than in the counytryside. It’s just selfish that is all, where they seem to think it’s OK for them to travel to towns and cities because it’s “essential” but not the reverse. After all for the most part they chose to live in the countryside because most homes in rural areas were built because of the need for local labour to work on farms and so on, which is now no longer the case.

    After all it is hardly as if rural areas are not effected. Take a look at the map at the bottom of this page : https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51768274.co.uk The worst effected area according to the map is Cumbria, hardly an urban area. It is worse effected than London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and so on. SImilarly Aberdeenshire is worse effected area in Scotland, and the remote Shetland Isles also feature highly. It is noticeable in Scotland that the worse areas are not the central belt covering the main cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh but the more rural areas, so people travelling into cities from rural areas is at least as much risk as the reverse, if not more so.

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    1. I feel for you, Jon, although I’ve heard parts of Surrey can be nice. But perhaps equally hard to escape people.

      I noticed the other day how badly the north-west had been hit and, as you say; it is not nearly as urban as London or even Manchester. As you say, these people have surely been travelling in to cities or more urbanised areas at some point. With the National Parks also closed. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what comes from the government’s next announcement.

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