Paul - who brings friendly nonsense (blur_kiwi) wrote,
Paul - who brings friendly nonsense

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onlylisa get ready for some cracking names

On Saturday the sun was out, so I thought I should be too. I took my little silver car through the villages of Shapwick and Westhay, past Mudgley and through Wedmore, Cocklake and Clewer to the home of Cheddar cheese, um, Cheddar, nestling on the southern slopes of the Mendip Hills. There were quite a lot of people around, proving that the tourist season is upon us and Somerset's quite a good place to be. As I drove up through Cheddar Gorge there were loads of healthy looking young people wearing hard hats and fondly handling ropes (or should that be 'handily fondling ropes'?) in readiness for their attempts at getting to the top in the most dangerous way open to them. At the head of the Gorge I pulled off the road and parked beside it at the entrance to the Black Rock Nature Reserve. Then I took my dodgy knee on a wee walking expedition. 

There were lots of walkers too, some of whom were walking competitively; how ridiculous a concept is that? They were taking part in a walking orienteering race; they were also going to get in the way of my photos if I wasn't careful!

The 'black' rock at Black Rock. It's bigger in real life.

The larch trees are growing back their spikes after their deciduous winter, and adding a gorgeous splash of lime green.

A typical Mendip scene, limestone walls and wooden gates, trees and rocks liberally sprinkled across the fields. 

After walking through the valley at Black Rock I came to the entrance of Long Wood.

Bluebell woods are a uniquely British thing. I know that more than half of the world's wild bluebells are found in England. At this time of the year, before the trees have blocked out the sunlight with their new leaves, bluebells carpet the floors of some of our woodlands and Long Wood is said to be one of the best. I was probably a week early and missed out on the full force of the display, but I had to grab my chance when I could.

An Early Purple orchid putting in a delightful appearance on the woodland floor.

All that floral beauty was slightly offset by the pungent smell of the wild garlic, powering ahead before the leaves filled in blocking out most of the sunlight.

From the circular path that winds its way through Long Wood, I next went to Velvet Bottom. 

It's a 'one way, turn round and go back the way you came' walk through Velvet Bottom. But it's a delightful one. The little valley gets its name from the soft short grass, permanantly nibbled tight by bunnies, that's like a perfect carpet to walk on.

The first part of the walk is a series of old settling dams from when this was a lead mining area.

This is the remains of the largest dam that the path cuts through.

The indentations in the ground here are called 'buddles' and are shallow pits for washing ore in. 

And this is lead slag, black and shiny as glass, being swallowed up as nature slowly claims back what was disturbed.

The lead workings must have finished a very long time ago because this huge beech tree was sitting at the bottom of the abandoned diggings. 

Celandines adding colour to the grassy banks.

A sycamore bud, opening into leaf

Finally, three willow trees, or just one willow tree that's run away with itself; as Marcus Bentley says on Big Brother, 'You decide!'

So that was my few hours walking on the Mendips. The knee took a bit of a bashing on the uneven ground and was screaming for a soothing hot bath by the time I got home, so that's what it got, and so did the rest of me!
Tags: uk pics

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