As the title of the series says this is a charming series starting and finishing in the village of Chilcompton, Somerset. This was my second series of the day in the area, as I had traveled some distance and the weather was great, I wanted to make the most of my time here.
I parked outside the co-op in the village which was quite handy for picking up a quick bite to eat before heading out on the trail. The series owner, The Somerset Smurfs, provided some great directions to the the first cache and then guided us around the walk.
Chilcompton is split in two by a small river/brook and and a now disused railway, the walk began along side the brook then eventually lead us to “The Street” where the River Somer flows alongside the road. The river is formed from a series of springs on the western side of Chilcompton.
From Chilcompton the river flows in a north easterly direction to and through Midsomer Norton where it joins the Wellow Brook, which flows through Wellow and joins the Cam Brook at Midford to form Midford Brook before joining the River Avon close to the Dundas Aqueduct and the remains of the Somerset Coal Canal. We had our first DNF of the series along this stretch and it subsequently turned out to have gone missing.
After a short walk along side the river, we headed up hill across farmland to reach a disused railway. This section used to be a double track of the Somerset and Dorset railway.
The next section of trail took us around the boundary of the stunning Downside Abbey, a Catholic Benedictine monastery and the Senior House of the English Benedictine Congregation. Adjacent to the Abbey is school for children aged nine to eighteen. Unfortunately, I had another dnf along this section.
As I walked along the main road, I got my first proper glimpse of the Abbey through the main gates, it is quite impressive I have to say.
We visited this area at time of the petrol crisis and when there was a lot of panic buying going on, so it was quite amusing to see the landlord of the pub suggesting that there was a also a beer shortage!
The next couple of caches were located around the western side of the Abbey and school from where you get the best overall view of the size of the building. It was a weekend so there were not too many people about the area. This section is definitely the highlight of the series in my opinion.
Cache 13 took us completely off track and up a very steep hill and back down the other side and is an optional deviation within the series. The OS map has it down as a disused tip and there were some great views at top. The cache was called “The Alternative Coal Cache” ans a little bit of Googling when I got back turned up that the area had quite a big surface coal mining business at one time. After this detour the remainder of the series lead us back to Chilcompton.
Although I had more than my fair share of DNF’s (3 in total) it was still a very enjoyable series with some interesting features, most notably of course being Downside Abbey.
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