A New Years Trip to Stourhead

Although we are a few months into the year I thought I would make a short post about a trip we took just a couple of days into the new year of 2018. With the family and my girlfriend, we set out on a chilly day, with snow still in some shadowy areas, we visited the nearby Stourhead. A very picturesque place, and a nice place to spend an afternoon. Also, there is plenty of history surrounding the place to get stuck into. I took a few photos on my phone, and I thought I would share.

The Stourhead Sign
The national trust sign in the Stourhead cafe.

Stourhead is a 2,650-acre estate around the source of the river Stour. It is near Mere in Wiltshire, and contains the village Stourton, extensive gardens, farmland, woodland and a palladian mansion. The estate was owned by the Stourton family for 500 years, until they sold it to Sir Thomas Meres in 1714. The Stourton family has a Peerage associated with it, so there is a  Baron Stourton. In 1717 It was sold to Henry Hoare, the son of a wealthy banker, and he demolished the original manor house. Colen Campbell and Nathaniel Ireson designed and built the current house between 1721 and 1725. Over the next 200 years the family collected lots of heirlooms, including a large library and art collection. In 1902 there was a bad fire in the house, but most of the heirlooms were saved. The house was rebuilt almost exactly the same. The son of the final owner, Sir Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare, gave the house and gardens to the National Trust in 1946, a year before he died. His son died at the Battle of Mughar Ridge during World War 1.

The Stourhead Lake
The stourhead lake taken from next to the grotto.

Most people got to Stourhead the walk around the lake and gardens. Taking a walk around the lake is meant to evoke a journey based on Aeneas’s descent into the underworld. The buildings and monuments around the lake are in remembrance of family and local history. The style of the garden is meant to be inspired by a painting bought by Henry Hoare, Claude Lorrain’s Aeneas at Delo. The gardens were designed by Henry Hoare II  and laid out between 1741 and 1780. The lake was artificially created by damming the small stream. The concept of the small areas with a big monuments is that they invite you over, and then you can see the next one, and that invites you over to that, it is designed to make you want to walk round the garden.

The view from the grotto
The awesome view of the lake from inside the grotto.

Stourhead, as its name suggests is where the river Stour starts. It is a 61 mile (98km) river which flows through Wiltshire and Dorset, and drains into the English channel. It is sometimes known as the Dorset Stour to distinguish it from the rivers of the same name in Kent, Suffolk and the Midlands. According to Brewer’s Dictionary of Britain & Ireland, the name Stour rhymes with hour and derives from Old English meaning violentfierce or the fierce one. A large part of the river is followed by the now disused Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. These trailways are now parts of the Stour Valley Way, a trail that follows the river from the mouth all the way to stourhead, running roughly 64 miles. A number of towns and villages in Dorset are named after the river, including East Stour, West Stour, Stourpaine, Stourton Caundle, Stour Row, Stour Provost, Sturminster Newton, and Sturminster Marshall. Sturminster Newton is famous for a water mill and town bridge which still has a notice warning vandals of penal transportation for those who wish to damage the bridge.

just a soppy photo
A soppy selfie of me and Katie walking up the big hill to the Temple of Apollo.

There are some great little facts that come from Stourhead,might be useful for a pub quiz, or just to annoy your friends.

  • The Temple of Apollo and Palladian Bridge can be seen in the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice, the one starring Keira Knightley.
  • In the Thunderbird TV series (the original one with the puppets), the model for Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward’s mansion was based off of Stourhead house.
  • The corporate font for the National Trust font is based on an inscription in the grotto. It was created in 1748 but was accidentally destroyed by mistake in the 1960’s, so the one there now is a replica.
  • King Alfred’s tower, a folly on the Stourhead estate, was built near Egbert’s stone, where it was said that Alfred the Great, King of Wessex rallied the Saxons in May 878 before the Battle of Edington.
  • King Alfred’s tower is the start of a 28 mile footpath called the Leland Trail that runs to Ham Hill country park.
The View From Apollo
The view of the lake from the Temple of Apollo

link to information about the Stour Valley Way (Long Distance Walkers Association): https://www.ldwa.org.uk/ldp/members/show_path.php?path_name=Stour+Valley+Way+%28Dorset%29

 

 

A Trip to Bolt Tail

During our summer holiday this year, we visited Hope Cove. A lovely little village in south Devon, close to Salcombe. This tiny village, with barely a village shop used to be heavily fishing based. It also at one point in history developed a reputation for plundering wrecked ships, and smuggling.

The View Of Hope Cove
The View of Hope Cove from Bolt Tail

The reason Hope Cove is such a favourite for beach lovers is the calmness of the waters inside the cove. South Devon is known for some harsh waters and high winds on occasion, but the Cove has a lovely shelter in the form of Bolt Tail. Located to the southwest, it’s a large headland that at one point had some sort of fort located on it.

Starting at the famous lifeboat house, the south west coastal path goes up the side of the hill through a nice wooded area. It is a gentle climb, with lovely views the whole way up. Then when you get out of the woods, for the final accent, you can see why there was a fort built there.

Approaching Bolt Tail
Climbing up to Bolt Tail

Although it looks imposing, there is an easy path to get up to the top as you can see, and no iron age soldiers shooting arrows at us while we tried to walk up. From this angle you can see the earthworks built by the settlers. The straight earthwork/wall blocking off one side of the settlement (with the other three being cliffs) is known as a promontory fort. Luckily there are nice entrances now so we didnt have to scale the walls.

The wall/earthwork
The wall/earthwork protecting the settlement

As there is not much left inside Bolt Tail, and it was horrendously windy at the top, we moved on further along the coast. Its a surprisingly good walk, well signposted, and lovely views all the way around. We picked a nice day, so if it was wet, I would imagine the wind would be scary. Looking back you can see why the place was made as a fort.

Bolt Tail
The view of Bolt Tail from the top.

Along the way there were many many sheep, making all manner of sounds, sometimes they didn’t even sound like sheep! As my girlfriend said “they sound like a human pretending to be a sheep” which sounded about right. They are crazy animals as well, they were not scared to go right up to the edge of the cliffs. Much braver than we were.

There were many sheep on this trip

As it was still sunny, and we felt energetic, we continued up the hill. We eventually ended up at Bolberry down. A National Trust park, designed to be nice and flat, lots of paths around the top of the cliff, and easy access for disabled people or those with difficulty up hills. If we were to continue on, we would have passed RAF Bolt Head, an RAF base during WW2. Then right at the south of Salcombe, where the Kingsbridge Estuary hits the sea is Bolt Head. Maybe we will come back that way some day. For now, we wandered back to Hope Cove for a cream tea and a watch of the sunset.

Which Way?

Hambury Tout Trig Point

So my sister decided to do the Dorset Doddle this year, a crazy 32 mile walk between Weymouth and Swanage. Being one of those challenge walks that is “not a competition” she carried basically nothing. We were there to meet her at checkpoints, and give her food an fill up her water bottle.

One of the scheduled checkpoints was Lulworth cove. A lovely little cove, just east of Durdle Door. We have been here many times, so we had already seen all the shops a million times. Having a quick look at the map. we saw there was a trig point just up the hill. Now this hill doesn’t look very formidable from the bottom, but it’s like all the hills in the area, deceptively steep.

The name of this hill is Hambury Tout, and not much is known about it. It’s seems to be pretty empty of history, except there is a burial mound of some description on the peak. Also known as a round barrow, various remains, including a skeleton were discovered during an excavation in 1790. This means that the trig point is not actually at the very top of the hill, it’s on the northern side of the mound. You can’t actually see the sea from it!

The hill is said to be made of chalk, making the pathway bright white, and extremely obvious. Also, considering the weather, there were an awful lot of people traipsing up and down the hill. Although, there were none at the trig point, which was only 50m or so off the path. The peak of the hill sits at 441 feet above sea level (134m) so it was a good trip for anyone who want a small challenge. The views at the top were also worth the effort.

Here are a few pictures from our trip up to the trig point!

the trig point
The trig point, from the south, with Lulworth camp in the background
trig from the west
The trig point from the west, with West Lulworth in the background
bindon hill to the west
Bindon hill to the west of the hill
Lulworth Cove
As we walked down the hill, a great view of Lulworth Cove

Finding Black Hill Trig Point

Our latest family summer holiday took us to the wonderful world of Herefordshire. After a trip through lots of tiny roads, meeting lots of tractors going the other way, we arrived in a cute little village called Craswall. After settling in, and looking round, the one part of the landscape that was very noticeable was the giant hill next to us.

black hill as we climb
The view from the side of Black Hill

Well obviously we had to climb it! Plus, once I looked at the map and found out there was a trig point at the top, we had a goal. As you can see from the image, there is a ridge going up to the top. We started at the side of the ridge. Our plan was to walk along the base to a car park, where there was a clear route up the hill.

view from the car park
The view from the car park

They call this hill the ‘cat’s back’ because it apparently looks like a cat ready to pounce when you look at it from afar. I could’t see the resemblance. Does that mean we climbed its bum? This was a bit of a hill for us though, we aren’t in practice, so we took a few rests along the way (admiring the view obviously). The view from the top was definitely worth it though. The fact it was a clear day meant we could see all the way to satellite station just outside Hereford. It was one of those views you could take hundreds of pictures of. Here are a few of mine, as we travelled along the ridge to the very top.

The view from the top towards hereford
The view from the top, you can almost see Hereford in the distance
from the top, the black mountains
The view from the top, of the black mountain ridge
when we looked backwards
The view we got when we looked backwards from the top

A bit about the landscape of the area. As you can kind of see from the images, we are right on the edge of the brecon beacons, to the east of the Black Mountains. This particular part is a ridge with very steep sides, and lots of rocky parts along the path. I believe this is known as a rocky knife edge. Whereas on the north side of the hill (other side of the trig point) its much more boggy, with gentle slopes. Much like the landscape of Dartmoor. in the images below you can see the difference between the ridge and the slopes.

the ridge
my aunt attempting photographic poses on the ridge
the final ascent
the final ascent, as the slopes get less steep

After a long old trip, we got to the top. and found the trig point. As they usually are, in the middle of a puddle. It hadn’t even been raining! Although it had been extremely windy (20mph by some readings). We stayed there for a little while, but the wind turned out to be too much, so we got our pictures and got out of there. Lucky that the may didn’t blow away in the wind!

the trig point
finally, the trig point we were looking for

After that we made our way swiftly down the hill, and back to the house for a pint and a bit of Olympics on the TV.