Sunday, 10 July 2016

Walking Stantonbury Hill (Off Topic #24)

The last time I went for a hike with Andy up to Charmy Down he suggested that next time we venture out we head for Stantonbury Hill. Well, time has really flown by and finally I realised that I’d better dust off my walking boots and take him up on his offer before old age and infirmity sets in. So yesterday myself, Andy and Daisy set off into the blue equipped with a plentiful supply of sandwiches, cake, crisps and water – but no ginger beer.

Newton St Loe

We parked up at Newton St Loe on the road next to the excellent farm shop and set off on a circular route that took us first to Pennsylvania Farm where we had an interesting discussion on just how the place got its name (we were wondering because there is a Pennsylvania just north of Bath but a good 15 miles from this place). After that it was cross country on footpaths and before we knew it we were in the most beautiful countryside at a distance barely half a mile from Bath but seeming a million miles away.

The theatre of operations

We passed through picturesque Englishcombe Village and on to Inglesbatch, then it was back to the footpaths which led us through a field of nervous looking cows (I think it was Daisy they were nervous of) to Priston Mill. Here it was time to dip into the sandwiches whilst Andy carried out an unsuccessful reconnaissance looking for a path that was on the map but seemed to have been removed from the actual landscape.

This is somewhere near Priston (I think)

Undeterred we headed on towards Stanton Prior where after a quick visit to check out the inside of the church (nice if you like Medieval churches) we decided it was time for more sandwiches and a sit down in the sun. By now Stantonbury Hill was starting to loom large on the horizon and we were starting to feel tired however, revitalised we set off on the final leg.

A lot of the walk was along lanes but there were hardly any cars!
Nice shack near Stanton Prior
The ascent on Statonbury Hill
Stantonbury Hill is the site of an Iron Age hill fort but unlike Solsbury Hill (on the east side of Bath) its slopes are covered in trees and it’s hard to make out any remains of earthworks. Having battled our way to the top it was clear to see that at some point the ground had been levelled as it was quite flat. It wasn’t hard to picture the place covered in Iron Age huts even if we couldn’t see any signs of the ditches or banks that must have once surrounded it.
The top of the hill - just picture those Iron Age huts
Finally it was time to force our way through the undergrowth to get back down the east side of the hill. This was hard going as the path was very overgrown and it involved climbing a five bar gate whilst fighting with overhanging branches but we eventually made it out and back onto the road. From there it was a matter of heading back cross country to Newton St Loe to pick up the car.

Final view of the hill as we headed home.

Andy figured we’d covered about 10 miles (it felt like 20) and I now have new found respect for Jackson’s ‘Foot Cavalry’ who reportedly covered 35 miles a day in their marches up and down the Shenandoah Valley. We decided we may return to Stantonbury Hill in the winter when the foliage is off the trees to see if we can find any traces of earthworks – if we do though we’ll just park the car at the bottom!


A.W. KITCHEN said...

At least you had good weather , most of my walks with the dog have ended wetly , you can't beat an Iron Age Fort , Tony

Stryker said...

Yes the weather was good for walking - it was an interesting place but we were too tired to explore it properly so hopefully more next time!

the Archduke said...

I'm with the cows on being nervous of Daisy........

Stryker said...

Nigel - you'll hurt poor Daisy's feelings!

the Archduke said...

No offence intended. Only respect for her high speed tongue...........