Well, Saturday morning dawned bright, cold and frosty....perfect for my first real walk since being blown over and breaking my foot a month and a half ago. I have been
convalescing in Somerset, in part of the county that has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Beauty (ANOB), known as the Blackdown Hills. AONBs are areas of high scenic quality that have statutory protection in order to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of their landscapes. AONB landscapes range from rugged coastline to water meadows to gentle lowland and upland moors. They are different from National Parks because of their more limited opportunities for extensive outdoor recreation, however, many have extensive well-managed footpaths and bridleways, allowing locals and visitors to enjoy the beauty of these special places. (For more info on ANOBs in England, Click Here).
It seemed a good idea to try and find a reasonably long, yet easy route that would take in many of the area's interesting geological and historical sites, as I hadn't really explored this part of the world, although I have driven through it on many occasions. A quick search on the internet revealed a circular 13.5 mile walk in the ancient Neroche district, known as the Staple Fitzpaine Herepath. It follows the line of the Blackdown ridge, passing the Iron Age hill fort of Castle Neroche, goes close to the highest point (315m), before heading North and going through ancient woodlands containing 500 year old oaks, another hillfort and limekilns. (For more info on Neroche and it's Herepaths, Click Here).
Armed with knowledge, a light lunch, drink and a warm top, the next challenge was to put my boots on. My 'good' foot was obviously not going to give me any issues, but my 'bad' foot initially refused to go in the boot, past my instep as the damn thing was still swollen. At one point it seemed that my Grand Plan would fail at the first hurdle, but with a bit of persuasion and persistence, I got it on and laced it up. I would worry about taking it off when I got back!
To be continued......