Posts Tagged ‘Somerset’

On a trig point

May 28, 2015

It’s funny how little concrete structures on the tops of hills have featured in my life. They are correctly called triangulation stations and before the era of satellite photography they were the places where map makers could mount a theodolite and ‘triangulate’ – work out distances and the lie of the land for maps.

image002

This must have been an early introduction to these structures and I fear there isn’t enough evidence to give me a definite location, but it would, for sure, have been on the South Downs in Sussex.

I choose to show this photo more as a family reminder. My brother, who so sadly died far too young back in 1980, was always more of an adventurer than me and he managed the task of scrambling up to the top of the station and he’s standing there, proud as can be whilst our mother looks on admiringly.

I am the third person, standing a little forlornly alongside. I do recall my annoyance that I was quite unable to master the feat my brother had achieved of clambering up on top.  Well, he was a good twenty months older than me and I’m guessing this photo was taken in about 1953.

My most recent encounter with a trig point as we always called them was on Sand Point near Weston Super Mare in Somerset. This was on March 27th 2015

image004

And that’s my wife peering over the top. These days we do not even think of clambering up these little monuments to what is now old fashioned map making.

Floral delights at Sand Point

April 19, 2015

Not so long ago we visited Sand Point in Somerset. Indeed, I did a post about seeing distant Cardiff from there. Let’s move in close this time and look at some of the flowers that grow on this lovely headland. It was March when we went so don’t expect a flurry of summer blooms, but rather some hardy species which just poke a head up above the ground and produce a little gem of a flower.

And I include the dandelion in that. Just because they are common and a bit of a pest in gardens, doesn’t mean they aren’t lovely.

image002

This one had found a sheltered spot, facing south and had risked an early bloom. Bright blobs of sunshine yellow bring a smile to my face. Celandines do it as well.

image004

Next come violets – of a kind.

image006

Well not very violet in colour. It’s a white violet but others, in the more normal colour could be found sheltered by rocks.

image008

image010

image012

Some plants made use of the rocks and took root in them, producing lovely little natural rock gardens.

image014

Ah yes. There was wonderful lichen as well!

image016

Cardiff

April 8, 2015

The capital of Wales – that’s Cardiff. It is years since I have actually been there but the other day we were strolling on Sand Point which is near Weston Super Mare. Cardiff lies across the broad Severn estuary. It’s about nine miles away and within range for a photo – even on a pretty cheap camera.

image002

My knowledge of Cardiff really isn’t good. Could those triangular structures near the left hand end be anything to do with the Millennium Stadium?

image003

The large building with the mast or flagpole on top I have recognised in another web photo of Cardiff but I don’t know what it is. We can also see the wind farm in the hills behind the capital city.

The building that fascinates me is towards the right end of the photo.

image004

What on earth is it? Could it be an industrial building for there appear to be oil tanks near the left end? They may, in truth, be well separated. The building almost looks like a ski slope from nine miles away.

Perhaps someone who knows Cardiff can put me straight – and meanwhile I can recommend anybody to take a stroll on Sand Point. It’s an amazing escape from the built up Weston – a lovely spot.

 

Coal fossil

March 5, 2015

Like many a young lad I was always fascinated by ancient things and the one type that could sometimes be found was a fossil. As a child, fossils I found were in chalk so consisted of sea shells or the imprint of where a seashell had been. I’m afraid I never fulfilled a childhood dream of finding a trilobite. But I do have ammonites and maybe they’ll get a blog airing sometime.

I have alluded to coal fossils before when I wrote a bit about the Somerset coal field. I do have some fossils that I found on spoil tips near the old Kilmersdon and Writhlington collieries.

Whereas chalk is made of fossilised sea creatures, coal is fossilised plant material. The so called fossils I have are leaf imprints formed as tree ferns, something akin to a giant version of our garden weed the horsetail or mares tail, got slowly squeezed into coal by the weight of debris falling on top. I think these marks are exceedingly beautiful.

image002

Let’s enlarge a bit of that.

image003

The veins on these fronds which were living plants about 300 million years ago show up so well.

Just fantastic!

Selworthy Beacon

November 29, 2014

Yesterday I aimed to cheer up the drab end of November with summer sunflowers. They were cultivated and in France. Today we’ll look at wild flowers in the UK – on Selworthy Beacon, Exmoor, to be precise.

image002

I’m guessing this smile bringing collection is pinky purple heather mixed with bright yellow gorse. I think it looks great.

There are acres of this heather mixture, high above the coast.

image004

That’s the view down to Porlock Bay.

We were at this lovely location in a somewhat damp and chilly august in 2008.

 

Priddy Fair

October 28, 2014

Priddy is a little village in the Mendip Hills of Somerset. For most of the year it is, no doubt, a sleepy little place. There’s a green and a pleasant pub to keep folks happy. But for a short while each year it turns into a thronging rural centre. That’s when Priddy Fair takes place. That’s usually in August and the fair is held most years. It wasn’t held in 2014 and there are fears for its future.

However, I’m going back to the early 1980s and a family trip which passed through Priddy whilst the fair was on.

The road we drove in on had wide verges and all along these were traders with agricultural and other products to sell. It was fascinating stuff.

image002

The green in the heart of the village was also the heart of the fair. The sheep hurdles, which spend most of the year piled up in a little shelter on the green were out and filled with sheep for sale. I was keen to get photos and it seemed to me that the best way was to take to the skies. This actually meant going to the funfair, on one edge of the green and taking a ride on the big wheel.

So up I went.

image004

This is looking down almost vertically, where wife, in the maroon red clothing was watching. But it wasn’t really the fun fair which interested me – let’s get up a bit higher.

Here we look down on the sheep fair.

image006

It’s clearly heaving with sheep.

image008

Priddy was altogether a busy place.

image010

Let’s get down amongst the punters.

image012

Great atmosphere. Let’s hope it survives.

 

 

Dear Evercreech

March 9, 2014

I might have liked this post to be about a railway, but sad to say, the line this might have been about was closed under the 1960s ‘Reshaping’ plan proposed by Dr Beeching.

The line was the old Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway – the S and D which was often referred to as the Slow and Dirty. It became a real mecca for rail enthusiasts in the 1960s when trains hauled by two steam locos could be seen and heard struggling up the gradients in the Mendip hills of Somerset.

Not so long ago I wrote about Wellow and included a bit of doggerel which went:

Oh Wellow, Wellow down the line
And Blandford Forum too.
Dear Evercreech is out of reach
Now The Pines does not pass through.

Hence my title of ‘Dear Evercreech’ and I’d better explain that ‘The Pines Express’ was a train from Manchester to Bournemouth. Bournemouth is known for its pine trees.

So where is Evercreech? Maybe a Somerset finger post on the road can give a clue.

image002

So there we have it – roughly half way between Shepton Mallet and Bruton. That’s in the Mendip area of Somerset.

The place has one very quirky feature. Take a look at this clock face on the church clock.

image004

Do you notice anything odd? Yes, that’s it. It has two places for number 12 (XII) and no number 10 (X).  It may have been a mistake originally, but it’s a mistake now kept totally deliberately when the clock face needs a repaint.

Sadly, on the day I visited, the tower was in slight difficulty. The pinnacles on top had been moved and tilted in the recent storms. Potential repair men were way up high assessing what to do.

image006

How high is that?

This high!

image008

You have to hunt for any sign of a railway, but the course of the line can be seen in places. There’s a hefty embankment on the northern edge of Evercreech which stops abruptly where a bridge over a road has been demolished.

image010

Yes, once upon a time The Pines Express would have made its way along the top of the embankment. What a good view the passengers must have got.

Combe Hay

December 10, 2013

Once upon a time Somerset had a coal field. Indeed, we have seen it on this blog for I visited it roughly when it closed down in 1973.

Coal fields need transport and one link was the Somerset Coal Canal which meandered west from Limpley Stoke on the Kennet and Avon Canal. The canal needed to get up a 180 feet high hill at Combe Hay and three caisson locks were proposed. One was built, but then the scheme was abandoned and a flight of 22 conventional locks, on a zigzag route were built instead.

Then, as recently as 1910 the route, or an approximation to it, became a railway. Originally it was part of a through route that allowed coal from Radstock and Midsomer Norton to be transported. As a passenger line, it was a no-hoper. Services were suspended in the First World War, were resumed in 1923 and then finished in 1925. Then part of it closed in 1932, leaving a branch from Limpley Stoke to Camerton for freight traffic which continued until 1951.

In 1953 the line became a film set when the Ealing Comedy, The Titfield Thunderbolt made use of the line. Track was lifted in 1956.

But there are, of course, railway relics still in place as we found when we took a walk along a part of the line near Combe Hay.

There are bridges. Here’s an under bridge with the railway high up on an embankment.

image002

You don’t go far before finding an over bridge, with the railway in a cutting.

image004

We found bits of rail.

image006

But this is rail that would not have been laid here, for these are pieces of Brunel’s broad gauge rail. Brunel’s broad vision was killed off in 1892, nearly twenty years before the Combe Hay line was built. Old bits of rail had been used as part of the structure for something. Just what, I don’t know.

Nearby was another piece of metalwork.

image008

Once again, I have no idea what it is. Maybe there’s a real railway enthusiast out there who can tell me! Or maybe it has nothing at all to do with the railway.

There’s lovely countryside around Combe Hay with virtually not a trace of its industrial past unless you really go looking. Combe Hay is little more than three miles from the centre of Bath but it is a totally different world.

Clevedon Pier

December 7, 2013

Seaside piers are mostly Victorian in origin. They are made of basic materials – iron and wood. It should be no surprise that as structures I find them both Fascinating and lovely. The entertainment they offer may not be for me. I prefer them to be simple walkways over the sea. So here we see one of my favourites.

This is the pier at Clevedon in Somerset.

image002

This pier opened in 1869 and at that time it was part of a transport link. Steamers that crossed the Bristol Channel to South Wales, visible across the water, could make for a quicker journey that the devious rail route available before the opening of the Severn Tunnel. And even on a hazy day, in February 2013, the Welsh coast can be made out.

image004

You can see it beyond the pagoda building on the end of the pier.

Much of the bridge was built from old railway line – the style used by Brunel for his Broad Gauge railways to the West.

Part of the bridge collapsed when being tested for strength in 1970. After many alarms and difficulties, restoration and full re-opening happened in 1998. I’m not the only person to think this is a wonderful structure. It is a grade one listed building which means it is deemed a major part of our heritage.

image006

As we can see in this ‘under the pier’ view, maintenance work is on-going. It has to be with piers, built as they are in a rather hostile, salty environment.

4ft 8½ and all that

December 5, 2013

Wellow on the old Somerset and Dorset line

There will be many folk who know that wonderful book of British (or perhaps it is more English) history called 1066 and all that by Sellars and Yeatman. My title today is that of a spoof on that famous work – about railways. It was first published in 1964. Like the original, it is full of humour which is much better understood if you have the knowledge.

image002

There’s the front cover but I prefer the title page.

image004

I suspect it was that phrase, ‘for maniacs only’ that really appealed.

The author gives a dedication in the book.

image006

The idea for this post stems from this book and in particular an ode to the country station – a little verse within it.

image008

Oh Wellow, Wellow, down the line….

Wellow is not far from where I live – about twenty miles or so – and way back in 1999, the early days for digital photography, I dragged my wife there for a walk and to see what might remain of the old Somerset and Dorset Railway.

Of course, we found a tracked.

image010

image012

The railway crossed a stream.

We found road walking awkward. It was hilly, bendy, narrow and in cuttings with nowhere off the road if traffic came along. We didn’t really look for a station site. But the viaduct was obvious enough.

image014

It truly was delightful around Wellow. It was a lazy, hazy June evening when we were there and the bees were buzzing on the myriad of flowers. And there was also, of course, that bit of industrial archaeology to keep me happy.