Friday 23 August Wells to Clutton

Miles walked: today 19.1 cumulative 372.9

I woke up much refreshed. I knew this was going to be a long day so I did not look round the cathedral, I will have to return. As I walked up the hill two old shops have been knocked down to provide a magnificent view of St. Cuthbert’s church, the largest parish church in Somerset

The day started with a walk over a ridge to Wookey Hole. This has a show cave with a stalagmite that looks a bit like a witch, so there is a legend around the witch of Wookey. My parents took me round the cave when I was about 10. At that time there was the cave and a car park. Now, there is a resort hotel, a themed crazy golf course, adventure playground etc etc.

The horse are very intelligent and dexterous here

or the humans need to learn punctuation.

The Monarch Way then climbed steeply to heathland above Priddy. There were good views across the levels towards Glastonbury TorI crossed a stile with a nice memorialThe high ground above Priddy is now a nature reserve. It used to be an area of lead mining and evidence of old mine spoils can be seenI continued through a mixture of rolling countryside and pleasant woodland. As I approached the Chew valley I could see the Chew Valley LakeThis is a man-made reservoir but an important nature reserve for ducks and migratory birds. I said adieu to the Monarch Way and followed the Limestone Link which runs between the Mendips and the Cotswolds.

As well as having labelled footpath signs, on recognised trails there is less likely to be path obstructions, the maize field that I crossed yesterday being an exception. The temptation is to wander along, ignoring the map. This is not a good idea as it is easy to miss turns. I remember when following the GR5 in France we managed to head back along the path out of Briancon that we came in on the previous evening. Towns are always the hardest to navigate through, especially as developers can build houses faster that OS can update their maps.

I now turned East towards Bath. There are a lot of maize fields in this part of the country. The Soil Association (SA) claim that maize is the fastest expanding crop in England and will have increased from 8000 hectares in 1973 to about 200 000 hectares by 2020. It is used for silage (although the SA claim it is not very nutritious) and increasingly for biofuel. They claim the other disadvantage of maize crops is that they are harvested late and the soil is compacted so that autumn rainstorms are less able to be absorbed by the field and run off to cause floods. It also uses land that could be used for growing food.

At the time of writing, whether we stay in or leave the EU, I think there is a need to consider what we grow on our land and, if food production is less profitable for smaller farms, how we can subsidise the farmers to protect the environment and make us more self sufficient in food production.

There does seem to be a new type of livestock on farms I didn’t see any so maybe they had been taken to market. I am going to start a pressure group for children as it is clearly cruel to stuff them in houses in cities.

I was hot and tired as I approached Clutton. I thought I was at journeys end but then realised the pub was about a mile away, on the other side of the village up a hill. At least when I arrived at the Hunters Rest, the food was nice, the bed comfortable and the Butcombe bitter refreshing.