One of the highlights of our trip was exploring the nearby National Wildlife Refuge. We were about a mile down the road from it, and while route 180 is fast, there are wide margins so that it is eminantly walkable.
I have a birding life list into the hundreds and was still able to identify five new species without serious birding. (Just walking with binocculars in hand.) We walked there three times: first, late in the afternoon to the junction of the Gator Lake trail and the Pine Branch trail (4 miles round trip), second, to the shore on the Pine Branch trail (6 miles round trip), and lastly to the Gator Lake trail returning via Mobile street, the shore, and the Pine Branch trail (8 miles round trip).
Since pets (dogs) are not allowed in the refuge and there are not that many people who visit, the birds are quite tame. The Sandriling walked within two feet of me.
There were mosquitos, even at the winter solstice, so a summer visit should include insect repellent and quite possibly a face net.
Without trying, we saw:
Great Blue Heron
Double Crested Cormorant
There were gulls (of course) and crows, as well as several varieties of sparrow, that we didn’t identify. Not to mention these guys, who scared off the plover.
I’ve been queuing up a series of walks – mostly about 10 km (6 miles for us colonials), and this is the second.
This started out as a “pub walk” from the house we hired in Wootton Courtenay – and we did get to one, about seven miles in. After several missed turns and places where the map … deviated from the trails on the ground.
This shows our GPS trace overlaid on the most current Ordinance Survey map. These differences made it a bit interesting.
I covered the first part of the hike on an earlier post where we hunted a local pub. So you can read that post for details. We take this walk up at the village of Timberscombe.
We headed uphill on the wrong road, but eventually found our way to where we could see Dunster in the distance.
If you get to this carved bird (the buzzard), you’ve gone too far.
Some of the local landmarks have a decidedly sci-fi name. Is Gallox bridge in Gallifrey?
We stopped in the Stag – which is an excellent pub – and let two sweaty, dirty, and tired hikers enjoy their pints inside. It had a guitar in the corner so if you were a better player than I am, you could entertain the crowds (or if you were a better runner you might escape the disapprobriation.)
The path heads uphill, of course, from the town. It winds its way past St. Leonard’s well (Shades of Blackadder) along a ridge.
There is an excellent set of views of Minehead from the exposed ridge. The sun is shining on Butlin’s holiday camp.
We also wanted to look for this weird feature – seen on google maps.
Unfortunately, it’s nothing special.
I’ve been queuing up a series of walks – mostly about 10 km (6 miles for us colonials), and this is the first.
Dunkery Beacon is the tallest peak in Exmoor. We’d hired a house in Wootton Courtenay which is at the base of the peak, but if you’re driving there are other places to start from. I would probably park at Webber’s post where there is a large parking lot, but no post.
We managed to arrive just after a heat wave; 32-35 is no fun without aircon. It was typical English summer weather; i.e.raining and cold.
The trail proper starts in a lovely grove of trees and then ascends a moderate slope.
Of course we started in the sun, but that was not to last.
We passed the ponies several times – this shot being on the way up.
These preferred Bracken to handouts, which was a relief.
The top is marked by a cairn. We used it to shelter from the wind while eating lunch.
This shows the path up the hill.
We followed a steep descent part way down the hill and made our way through delightfully pretty woods (Rowan and Holly so we were doubly safe from the foul spirits of the undead) to Webber’s post, and back to our house. If I started from Webber’s post I’d go across the hill and up the way we did rather than the other way around.
This is a good short walk for a rainy and overcast day. Selworthy is a short distance past Minehead on the A39. Leaving from the church parking lot, we went up hill and worked our way to the Beacon. The church is worth taking a look at with original features dating back to the 1500’s. One highlight for me was a 1609 copy of “An Apology for the Church of England” by John Jewel. It laid out the case for the Church of England being more Catholic than the Church of Rome and every parish was required to have a copy. Unlike many villages, Selworthy lost nearly as many men in WW2 as WW1. However, like many small villages, Selworthy has sadly lost much of its population since then.
It’s a surprisingly steep climb, steeper than Dunkery Beacon. There’s a side trail to the castle – a neolithic settlement – that we didn’t take. The wooded parts of the path are well covered and somewhat close – even at 13C. However, when it opens up, it is windy and exposed. I valued my windshirt.
The top of Dunkery Beacon is hidden by the clouds in the distance.
Porlock Weir is in the distance (There will be another post about that). There is a herd of belted galloway cattle that grazes the heath.
This shows the trail down.
The village itself is mostly national trust property. We stopped for an excellent cream tea at the Periwinkle Tea room.
Not the semi-mythical Exmoor beast, but a pub called “the Lion” in Timberscoombe. We thought we’d have a relaxed day with a short pub walk for lunch. Good pub food, a few pints, and an easy walk home.
Unfortunately the pub – which looks a decent place – was closed for renovation. Looking in the windows suggested it needed the work. So we had a few handfuls of trail mix (hint: buy the components and mix them yourself. It’s a whole heck of a lot cheaper.) and headed back.
Rather than simply backtrack, we tried a loop with short stretches on the A396. These weren’t too bad, there being pavement for most of it. (Sidewalks for yanks.) We did have a digression because some landowner had blocked off the public footpath. You’re not supposed to do that, but they did nonetheless.
Most of the paths on the way back were sunken roadways which tends to make for ‘close’ air and hot walking.
We went through the pretty little hamlet of Ford and headed home for a beer and Stilton lunch.
Another trail map from a visit to Golden Colorado. This is a short walk that was suitable for the morning while we waited for our flight home.
This stroll starts from a somewhat tricky to find parking lot off of South Golden Street near route 70 (Hint Kilmer Street is the entrance to the Colorado State Police school – which makes it a very safe place to park.) It’s also near the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
It proceeds up South Table Mesa, and crosses the K-T boundary several times. We took a digression (must remember to take the map with us next time) that would have led to the top of the mesa seen below:
We saw people on top the day before, but it appears they weren’t rock climbers.
The top is rather barren and desolate. A basalt layer with Prickly Pear and
Telegraph/telephone wires. Surprisingly wild views. CSM is this way, hidden by the edge of the mesa (you can also see Lookout Mountain in the distance).
It was, on a Monday morning, mostly deserted. Most of the runners and bikers appeared to be connected with NREL.
The Elk Range Trail is a short (3.3 mile) trail in the Centennial Cone county park near Golden Colorado. Getting there is a scenic drive from the city, whether you use the twisty route 6 or the interstate 70, then cut north. Be warned, on weekends mountain biking and hiking pick alternate days (hikers on odd days, bikers on even ones).
We were doing a flying visit and so only had time to do an out and back walk, but the loop with the Travois trail would be even better.