Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A trip away from Yorkshire Wolds to the Eden Project Pt4 (and last part)

Visit to the Eden Project over we started the long journey home on the A30 skirting Bodmin Moor and passing by the famous Jamaica Inn. A name familiar to me from news reports of motorists stranded in snow drifts and seeking refuge. That certainly wouldn't be the case on a sunny autumn afternoon with hardly a cloud in the sky.  It's a pity it didn't stay a sunny autumn afternoon. The further east we went the the more the cloud thickened.  More of which later.


Huntstile Organic Farm
We'd decided to break up the journey by staying over on the way back  in the area of the Quantock Hills. An area I'd always wanted to visit. I thought we may get chance for a short walk and if we were really lucky we might see some of the Red Deer the Quantocks are known for. At this point though driving up the A30 in common with the other nights I still didn't know where we were staying for the night. I can now say that my wife had saved the best until last. We stayed at the Huntstile Organic Farm - www.huntstileorganicfarm.co.uk - a gem of a place just outside Bridgwater on the edge of the Quantocks. I could see why it was described in "Alistair Sawday's" guide as:

 Sweet and cosy rustic bedrooms, Jacobean panelling and delicious organic food on your plate. Huntstile is an organic dream.


Blue room, Huntstile Organic Farm
Huntstile Farm dates back to the 14th Century. We stayed in the Blue Room, a vast double room with an original fireplace and massive comfortable queen size bed. I could have stayed in the room and relaxed for longer but also wanted to get back out and explore the Quantocks. 






A rather misty Quantocks
The desire to explore the Quantocks won. This was made easier as in our room our hosts had kindly supplied an Ordnance Survey Explorer Map of the area. Even though we were only staying a few miles from the central part of the Quantocks, designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty, as we drove closer those clouds I mentioned earlier spoiled all our plans. We'd identified a road that went up and over the hills and would provide somewhere to park that we could set off walking from.  As we drove up this road we also drove up in to the cloud and when we reached the point where we could park up visibility was less than 100 yards. So, a decision as to whether I agree with the designation as an area of outstanding natural beauty will have to wait until we get chance to re-visit at some point in the future. We did a take short walk using visible reference points. As I'd foolishly left my compass at home once they ran out we decided it would be too easy to get disorientated in the limited visibility and returned to the car.


Hopes dashed we decided to seek solace in food and returned to a pub we'd seen on the way. The pub was the Rising Sun - www.risingsuninn.info - at West Bagborough; a small village nestled at the foot of the Quantocks. The pub had a welcoming look from the outside and on the inside the feeling was maintained with a comfortable bar area and separate dining area. Early on a Monday evening we weren't the only customers and I would think that to eat on a weekend booking is a must. The pub would fit in with description of a "Gastropub" and the prices reflected this. The food we had would justify this tag as it was tasty and well presented. My wife's dietary needs were catered for without complaint. Should we ever be in the area again we both agreed we would return.


We navigated the now dark and twisty Somerset country lanes back to Huntstile and settled in to our vast room for a good night's sleep. Breakfast at the Huntstile is served in a small separate building that was probably once used as a grain store. Breakfast was prepared to order by an attentive cook and I had no complaints. 


Huntstile Woods and our companion 
The previous evening our host had described a short walk to us across their farmland and through their woods. As it went uphill from the farm and would afford good views on what was a sunny morning we decided to take the short walk. We were joined by one of the farm dogs who accompanied us on the walk. It was a pleasant stroll and set us up for the long drive home.


View from Symonds Yat
Even though we'd visited many places over the previous two and a half days our wanderlust wasn't quite satisfied. After a quick look at the atlas we decided that instead of taking the M5 north we would only take it as far as Bristol then cross the Severn, head towards Chepstow and drive up the Wye valley joining the M50 and then back on the M5.  This gave us the opportunity to see the Wye valley and stop off for lunch at Symonds Yat Rock a spectacular viewpoint set on a hill top above the river.  Driving through the valley it reminded me more of following the route of one of the great rivers of Europe not one in the border country between England and Wales. The view from the Rock of the curving river in the valley bottom below confirmed to us that we had made the right decision in taking one final detour. 


Except for a drive through Ross-on-Wye (must return one day) our grand tour was over except for the slog back home. In fulfilling a wish we'd traveled nearly 900 miles in just over 75 hours of sightseeing and visiting. I enjoyed every mile and minute.



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