From; Street, Somerset

To: Monkton Heathfield, Somerset

Distance: 23 miles / 37 km

Total distance so far: 913 miles / 1,469 km

Date: 17 June 2021

The River Tone

Today’s walk was not as straightforward as I’d hoped, considering that I’m in the Somerset Levels and it was largely flat. I’m at the point where I have very little faith in the county’s landowners or its councils when it comes to footpath maintenance; what should have been an easy stretch along the River Tone was ruined by a series of vandalised stiles (perhaps as many as 15 in a row), the gate next to them invariably locked. There had been altogether too much long grass to wade through too, and, earlier in the day, a section of evil nettles combined with cattle skipping (yes, you read that right) around me as I took a mile long footpath near the hamlet of Beer (ironically to avoid another route that I’d read was hard going), the initially good track turning into hiking hell, probably as the land changed hands.

One of the evil skipping cow gang

I’d hoped to get to Taunton today, but by 6pm, after 10 hours and 23 miles of walking, I was flagging. Luckily the campsite at Tanpits Cider Farm was just off my route, and I sped there on the easiest and best section of walking of my day – the Sustrans route along the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. What a find the campsite is! It’s a nice quiet place, aside from the sound of the peacocks that live there. I’d just put up my tent and showered when Mick, a long-term resident, came over to offer me tokens for the washer and tumble drier. His kind gesture, the gift of clean walking clothes for the morning, made my day, and I enjoyed sitting and chatting with him for an hour while I drank a bottle of the farm’s 6.5 per cent cider. A female peacock perched on a railing by us the whole time (Mick said she likes to hear people talk), while a young male peacock continuously displayed his feathers nearby in what appeared to be failed attempts to attract the attention of a bird Mick described as ‘his girlfriend’. It was a lovely way to spend my evening, and more than made up for the some of the more irritating aspects of my walking day.

Camping at the cider farm tonight!

Of course, there were lots of great parts to my hike today too. Waterside walking meant lots of dragonflies, and I saw a remarkable amount of butterflies (I think they were all Red Admirals). These bursts of electric blue and bright red added vibrant shots of colour to a largely humid but overcast day. The village of Burrowbridge offered me both a lovely lunchtime pub stop and the excellently named Burrow Mump, which like it’s much more famous cousin, yesterday’s Glastonbury Tor, has a ruined church atop it. Meanwhile, the nominally 12th century (a lot of work was done in the 15th and 19th centuries too, so I guess it’s practically new 🤣) church of St Michael offered me shelter from a passing shower as I vacuumed down some food. Here’s hoping for lots of good bits on tomorrow’s hike too.

Burrow Mump