Tuesday 18th June – Charterhouse & Velvet Bottom
Walk Leaders: Jane & Shelagh
A 4.8 mile walk around the Charterhouse and Velvet Bottom area. Please meet at The Castle of Comfort , East Harptree, BS40 6DD (on the B3134) Tel: 01761 221321 at 9.00am sharp. Please park at the end of the car park furthest from the pub. Facilities will be available in the pub at 9.00am. We will then transfer into less cars and drive to the start of the walk at the Blackmoor Reserve Car Park (Grid Reference ST 505 556). This is 8 minutes drive down the road. Please remember to bring a bag to put your boots into if you are having a lift.
We leave the car-park and visit some of the mining remains in the area. We then cross the dam and head up a fairly steep hill towards the radio masts. On a clear day the views of the Bristol Channel are amazing. Sadly not so on our reccie day when we had Mendip mizzle! We then skirt the edge of Black Down and Long Wood, pass up through Velvet Bottom and (if time permits) visit the Ubley Warren Nature Reserve. There are 7 stiles on this walk. Dogs will need to be on a lead for most of the walk as; livestock may be in some of the fields, there are ground nesting birds in the Reserves and also warnings of uncapped mine shafts. Some sections could be muddy and there are some rocky scrambles so poles are highly recommended.
Twenty five members and one well-behaved dog enjoyed a fascinating walk around the Charterhouse and Velvet Bottom area. We met at The Castle of Comfort, East Harptree, parking there before combining into fewer cars to drive to the start of the walk at the Blackmoor Reserve Car Park.
We visited some of the mining remains in the area, which date from the Iron Age. There is evidence that the Romans mined lead and silver, and this area was clearly the Roman Empire’s prime source. Mining continued in Victorian times and until the early 20th century. Only metal-tolerant plants can grow in the area, due to heavy soil contamination.
We then crossed the dam and trudged up a fairly steep hill, where we were treated to stunning views of the Bristol Channel. We then skirted the edge of Black Down and Long Wood, and entered Velvet Bottom – a magical place which several of us had never visited before. We observed the remnants of several Buddles – these were small stone-lined convex circular pits containing rotating brushes which cleaned the lead ore.
The hardier members ended the morning with a visit to the Ubley Warren Nature Reserve, where we were able to observe the Roman and Victorian lead-mine workings more closely.
We were lucky that the promised rain stayed away for the most part, with just a slight drizzle to cool us down. A great walk – thank you Jane and Shelagh
Report by Rosie.