Congresbury Walk

Wednesday 30th January – Congresbury

Walk Leaders: Keith L-J and Roger R

A walk in the Congresbury/Yatton area. This is a change to the walk in our programme as there are no convenient paths in the Stock Hill woods to make an interesting walk. Parking is in the farthest right-hand corner of the car park by the Millennium Bridge at The Ship and Castle, Congresbury (BS49 5JA, MR 438638 Explorer map 154). Please do not park on the left as this is private land. Public toilets are available at the entrance to the car park. We will meet at 9.30 for a 9.45 start.

The walk is a moderate ramble across the river up to the pre-historic hill fort, down through a nature reserve to the village of Yatton and then on to the Strawberry Line and back along the riverside to Congresbury. There are 11 gates, four of them kissing gates and three stiles, the last, just before the end of the walk is very steep. The hill is a gentle ascent but coming down there is a steep path with rough steps which, if wet, could be challenging. Dexter cattle roam the fort enclosure. About 1/3rd of the walk is on quiet pavements through the villages of Yatton and Congresbury.

Lunch will be available in The Old Inn in Congresbury, just a short stroll from where we will have parked our cars.

On a morning with temperatures at -3C, walkers from the Wells area made their way over the misty Mendips to the meeting point in Congresbury. All twenty arrived without mishap, and set about donning sufficient layers to tackle a frosty walk.

We set off for our 5 mile walk across the Congresbury Millennium bridge, a steel structure over the river Yeo, and walked through the village on the icy pavements to a little lane, heading for the fields which lead to Cadbury Hill fort. Research has not uncovered why it is named Cadbury, but other hill forts in south Somerset, with the same name, are said to derive from the name Camelot. Frost grass in the fields added to the ambiance and the views back to the mist shrouded Mendips were ethereal.

At the top we stopped for coffee and then headed down some steps towards Yatton. We chose to take the central route as opposed to wending through the housing estates and arrived at the Church of St Mary The Virgin in Yatton.

This Church often called “The Cathedral of the Moors”, was set in large grounds and was itself an imposing building, with beautiful stained-glass windows, and an unusual tower. The lowest part of the Tower is the oldest part of the Church, about 1340. The unique form of the spire, or steeple, is much discussed. Spires are not very usual features in Somerset churches. Those that exist seem to follow the line of the coast, and give rise to the suggestion that they may have been used as beacons. In 1595 the Wardens engaged three freemasons to take down the spire. They reduced it to its present dimensions. An octagonal modern Chapter House has been added and is used for the pre-school children of the parish, who were having fun in its light airy space.

From Yatton we continued, via a slight diversion because of the work of the tree surgeons in the grounds of the Church, to wend our way towards the Strawberry Line. The Cheddar Valley Line, which ran from Yatton railway station through to Cheddar and Wells, became known as the “Strawberry Line” because of the volume of locally grown strawberries that it carried to London markets. Some of it is now a traffic-free route across parts of Somerset between Shepton Mallet in the Mendip Hills to Clevedon by the sea - a safe path for cyclists, and walkers. We took this path back to Congresbury and climbed a couple of LOCKED gates to walk the last bit of the route beside the tranquil River Yeo.

Having changed our boots, we walked to the lunch venue, The Old Inn – well worth a visit to this traditional pub, particularly on a Wednesday, when Di’s home-made pies are served – a very popular choice and much appreciated by those who chose them. This was an interesting walk researched by Keith and Roger from a Sue Gearing article – many thanks for all your efforts.
Report by Patsy.