Edford & Harridge Woods

Monday 7th October – Edford and Harridge Woods

Walk Leaders: Allan & Joyce

This is a 5 mile walk of mainly woodland paths and farmland in gentle, rolling countryside between Oakhill and Holcombe. The walk starts from the Duke of Cumberland pub, facilities and parking available, meeting at 9.30am for a 9.45 start. The pub is at Edford Hill, Holcombe, BA3 5HQ, telephone 01761 233731.

We start the walk going over the remains of the old coal canal and then along a tree lined path to Pitcot where we turn off and walk through fields towards the woods. There were cows in some of the fields; one or two of the cows were fairly frisky. We enter the woods and walk along a path, turn onto a wide drive, cross a road and walk towards Stoke Bottom Farm. We follow the stream passing the remains of a former mill and the ruins of Stoke House and cottages of a community called Fernhill. We reach a gate out of the wood, go past St. Dunstan’s Well, along a field and after crossing a lane go along another field and into Harridge Woods which is a Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserve.

We come to Keeper’s Cottage, now an award-winning bat house. We then walk alongside Mells stream through the woods and eventually turn up a fairly steep path with slippery stones and protruding roots to exit the woods. Walking poles recommended. After crossing fields and a road we walk along another tricky, slippery woodland path, out onto fields and back to the pub.

There are 14 stiles, 11 wooden and 3 stone. One of the stone stiles is very awkward and needs care to negotiate. The walk is limited to 20 because of the number of stiles. Unfortunately, the walk is not suitable for dogs because of the difficult stone stiles.

Today was forecast to be very wet by 12 noon, with this in mind, we set off a little before our scheduled time and at a fair pace – some were heard to say “is this a route march?” Allan decided to change the route slightly to shorten the walk, in order to get us back before the deluge.

The walk was through areas the group have walked before but never with the water in spate. This caused numerous amazing waterfalls, which we were able to watch for a few moments after our coffee stop. Also St Dunston’s Well was very different from previous visits, when we were able to climb around the pool. Thankfully no one attempted that today.

The walk was higher on the “mudometer “reading than any other walk this year, and the stiles were a huge challenge, which slowed us down, as anticipated by our leaders, who wisely restricted the number of people who could go on the walk. We did have a dog (Purdie) with us and she managed the stiles admirably, trying to drag her owner through or over with great gusto. Purdie also attracted the unwanted attention of a fierce hairy dog travelling in the opposite direction. He was not on a lead and his owner was not in control of him, but some of our men shooed him off with their walking poles when he returned for a second sniff – well done chaps.

We returned to the pub, who opened specially for us, having had a good stretch of the legs on a day when we may have stayed in if there had not been an organised walk. So thank you to Allan and Joyce for planning a good walk and taking us to a scenically attractive area, and to the “Duke of Cumberland” for a good lunch.
Report by Patsy.