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Mendip droves, ridges and meadows Sunday 26 January 2020

Despite the weather forecast for rain, a dozen walkers and two lovely dogs were at the starting point in Winscombe village ready to go. Skirting the village, we passed through Sidcot School, founded by the Quakers in 1699. Climbing through a narrow valley, we reached Winscombe Drove, which would have been used by farmers from ancient times up until the 19th century to move their sheep, cows or geese to market. We carried on upwards, with the rain easing to become more showery, until we reached Callow Drove, which at 221 metres was the highest point on our walk.

A welcome level stretch now, with misty views across the Somerset Levels towards Glastonbury and glimpses of Bridgwater Bay in the distance. Views northwards took in Winscombe and other villages of north Somerset. A steep downhill section led across the open moorland of Shute Shelve Hill, in the care of the National Trust, back to the valley below. Here we joined the Strawberry Line, which is a joint walking/cycling path, along the course of the Yatton to Witham railway line, which was closed in the mid 1960s. We passed through a cutting, clad with many ferns and on through a tunnel, which was hewn out of solid rock at one end with the other end lined with bricks, a fairly rare feature.

After another mile or so, we reached the site of the old Winscombe railway station, which was landscaped and provided with picnic tables to celebrate the Millennium. We had lunch there, but the rain came back again in full force. After some discussion, it was agreed to end the walk at this point and for those who wished, to repair to the Woodborough Inn for refreshments. It has to be said that this was rather a wet walk, but fortunately Mendip mud does seem to wash off easily!

Thanks to all those who came and made it an enjoyable occasion in spite of the weather.
John and Martin

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