Although I am walking the coast this is one of those walks where I don’t actually see the coast, as this walk takes me into Bridgwater so I can cross the river Parrett and then part way back up the other side. I do this walk in reverse, from Combwich to Pawlett as the bus to Combwich is not very frequent, running only once every 2 hours, so I want to get that at the start of the walk to avoid a potentially long wait at the end of the walk and in addition the last bus from Combwich is quite early, at 16:40. Having said that it is good this fairly remote area has a bus service at all!
I make an early start, catching the train to Reading, on to Bristol and then to Bridgwater. I have 7 minutes to get from the railway station to the bus station, which is cutting things a little fine! Thankfully Bridgwater has a bus station, so it’s marked on the map and I can easily find the bus station. Despite this it takes a little longer than expected and I quicken my pace and eventually reach the bus station. I haven’t seen my bus leave so hope I haven’t missed it. Thankfully I arrive at the bus station and find one bus, which is not my route, waiting and another bus parked up. I go round to the front of the parked bus and relief, it is the right bus and the driver is not here. He arrives around 30 seconds later so I get on and pay my fare and relax. I’m glad I’ve made the bus as it means I can return from Pawlett, which has a far more frequent service. The weather forecast for the day is for rain although it has stayed dry so far and I hope it stays that way!
The bus soon sets off and after a meander around Bridgwater we are soon heading west on the A39 for Cannington. Here the bus leave the A39 to take us through Cannington and on to Combwich. The road is unclassified but surpsingly good so we make swift progress to Combwich. I’ve only seen Combwich before from the other side of the river on my previous walk so I’m not quite sure where the bus stops as the timetable gives the destination as “Combwich Bus Shelter”, which is not terribly helpful! This turns out to be a brick built shelter just off the main road. The bus pulls in here before continuing it’s journey so I get off here and head into the village.
I pass the village shop on the left, useful if you need supplies.
Soon I have a little stream on my right and fork right on the road here, which soon crosses the stream. This narrow road continues to the energy works where I take a track off to the left and then almost immedialty a footpath which brings me to the river bank. It is grey and overcast today but I have a good view of the wide river here, where the tide is in.
I turn right along the path with the river on my left heading south. Sadly the dry weather does not last and I soon feel the first drops of rain, This gets gradually harder until I’m forced to put on my rain coat and umbrealla to avoid the worst of the weater. I also swop cameras, for a small point and shoot camera which I can keep in my pocket, out of the rain rather than the SLR I normally use.
I soon pass the sluice gate at Tuckett’s Clyce, continiung on the river path as the river turns gradually to the east. The path is easy to follow, a wide grassy path along the river bank with numerous metal field gates, although these all have an adjacent gate for me to walk through, or in some cases a small pedestrian gate buit into the large gate. I pass another footpath on the right and soon reach the larger sluice gate over Cannington Brook, a small river which flows out into the Parrett here. I follow the path with the river as it turns to the north passing Pipin’s Clyce. The rain is getting heavy now as I contiue east with the river and see the end of my walk in sight, the village of Pawlett. Although only around half a mile it is still many miles of walking, since I need to cross the river first.
I head east with the river and continue as it beings to turn to the south on another long meander. This is a wide river here and I wonder if it is much used by boats. It seems large enough to see large ships but I don’t see any boats at all, which is a shame. I soon come to a particularly large bend in the river and I can see the tide is now going out, quite fast because there are large mud banks in the river here.
As I turn to the left here, to head east and can see the first industry of Bridgwater approaching, with a wharf on the other side of the river, at Dunball. The river turns right again here to head south now with the busy A38 on the opposite side of the river, close by.
Although I’ve not been checking my map very much, because of the rain, I realise I must be getting close to Bridgwater. I can see the business parks and warehouses on the oppsoite bank, some still under construction. The river is also getting noticeably narrower, and the banks more muddy as the tide is going out. There is another meander in the river here, west, then south and back east again as I pass close to the village of Chilton Trinity. The path has trees alongside here and I see the first people since I left Combwich, a couple of dog walkers braving the rain.
Soon I turn a little to the right and at last can see the first bridge over the river ahead – at last across this river!
I was hoping to cross the river here but the path goes under the bridge with no path up onto the bridge. However I spot a well walked path up the bank, which is steep, and then squeeze through the crash barrier up onto the road, where I’m pleased to find a pavement. I cross the river via this bridge and note another path back down once over, again I have to squeeze through the crash barrier. Not an ideal way to cross the river, but the next bridge is over half a mile further along the river so I am pleased to have been able to cross here. There is a path right along the river on the other side, but it is obviously less rural, with warehouses and light industry to my right.
The road gets closer on the right as I approach the area marked as Bridgwater Ferry Terminal although I’m not aware of any ferries operating from here, but one across the river would have been nice. It is really just an area of concrete next to the river. The footpath is marked on the map as finishing just north of here but there is also an obvious track along the river marked on the map and I am hopeful I will be able to take this instead of the A38. It turns out this is a good route, with a wide path past the business park here and the Premier Inn.
There are seats here and a wide path so I assume access is permitted, I also come across a dog walker so it looks hopeful. The path is good and although there are signs to the right saying private I assume this means the area to the right of the path. At the end of the business park on the right the path turns back to the right close to the A38 and I plan to continue along the raised river path but come across a metal gate, which is padlocked. It is clear then that I’m not meant to walk here. It is a little over a mile back along the path to where the right of way joins the road and I’m not clear if I was meant to have walked that path either. I can see the path ahead however is firm and part surfaced and has been used by vehicles. I see no one around and no buildings ahead and I decide to be naughty and climb over the gate, to follow this track and then get back to the A38, rather than walk back a mile and after to follow this busy road a mile back north. The track is wide and well surfaced and as it nears the A38 ahead I can see a metal gate giving access to the A38. I head off the path over the field to this and climb over, waiting as best as possible for a gap in the traffic so no one sees me climb over it, as I know I’m not meant to be here.
Relieved, I am back on the public road and no longer trespassing. I know I shouldn’t have walked here and feel a bit guilty for doing so, but I have caused no damage and managed to avoid a walk along a busy trunk road in doing so.
As you may be aware there are plans for a coastal path all around England, but these are progressing slowly and only a few smalll sections are open. Having said that this part of the coast, from Minehead to Brean Down looks like it will be one of the first parts to be developed and propsals for the route of the path in this area have now been released. I notice the route I walked around the business park (Express Park) is marked on the proposal map as “Trail using other existing walked route” so I think it is clear that part of the path is a leagal walking route open to the public. North of here, where I come across the locked gate, the proposed route of the path does in fact follow the route I took for the most part, but is marked as “Trail not using existing walked route”. I think that is clear then, the route I followed through the fields is not a route I should have used, but is the planned route of the coastal path round England, so will hopefully become the legal route in a few years, perhaps I am a piooneer of the new coastal path here! Indeed the documents show this part of the path may also become a cycle way in future.
Sadly as I rejoin the road, it is a busy dual carriageway and although there is a pavement it is closed, along with the left hand lane of the road, and I come across this gem of a sign.
I think the builders are taking the p**s here. Rather than walk along the open lane of traffic, which is of course busier because the road is at half capacity and there is no pavement on this side, I squeeze past the barrier and continue on the pavement that is meant to be closed. It is the weekend and there is no work going on anyway and the surface of the pavement has not been distrubed. This road soon takes me over the bridge over the artificial river (I think) marked as Kings Segemoor Drain. Just beyond this there is a footpath marked on my map off to the left. It is marked as going right through a building in fact, which clearly can’t be right. However it does go through this working wharf, which feels wrong, but is the correct route and thankfully as the wharf is not operating, it being the weekend, I head through it and find a good quality path begins after the industrial area, which I can follow along the river.
The grass is a little longer than on the other side of the river suggesting that the path on this side is not walked so much. Soon the river turns sharply to the right, opposite the wide area with mud banks I saw earlier in my walk. The path ahead heads north along the river bank and is in better condition with sheep grazing on the path in places, which I’m sure has helped to keep the grass shorter here.
A little over a mile further along I come to the few houses on the river bank on the edge of Pawlett. I have made good time, much better than expected, probably because the rainy weather has meant I walked at a quicker pace than usual and took less photoagraphs and also the fact that with the exception of the climb up to cross the bridge over the river the walk has been entirely flat.
I therefore head up the road alongside these few houses and up the hill (the first of the day) to reach the village of Pawlett. It is very wet still and although it looks a fairly pleasant village I decide not to longer as the weather is bad. I remember where to catch the bus from my previous walk and have around 10 minutes to wait for the bus. This gets me fairly swiftly into Bridgwater and passes some of the large green stripy warehouses I saw beside the road earlier, which turn out to be owned by the supermarker Morrison.
As I have made good time I reach Bridgwater more than an hour before my train, and travelling on an advance ticket means I must travel on the train selected, a downside of the cheap prices I suppose. So I have a little over an hour to look round Bridgwater. It is a much nicer town than I had expected, with a pretty area of brightly coloured buidings by the river, and some lovely Georgian houses around squares.
I can also see repairs are taking place on the wall beside the river which started to collapse a few months previously.
Depite the dreadful weather I enjoy the walk around the town and take a few photos. I then head to a coffee shop for a while to dry out and then later make my way back to the station, by which time the rain has eased. My journey back goes well and I arrive home on time.
This was never going to be one of the best walks on my coastal walk, but it turned out better than I had imagined it would, especially on the east side of the river. My next walk means I will finally be back on the coast and complete my walk around the River Parrett. This walk was rather spoilt by the dreadful weather but in some ways I’m glad I didn’t miss out on spectacular views in this weather and insted was on a flat river path with more limited views for the length.
Since I walked this route there is now two bus routes from Bridgwater to Combwich, details of both services are below.
First Bus 14 Timetable (Bridgwater – Wembdon – Cannington – Combwich – Stogursey – Nether Stowey – Kilve – West Quantoxhead – Doniford – Watchet)
Webber Bus 24 Timetable (Bridgwater – Wembdon – Cannington – Combwich – Stogursey – Nether Stowey)
Train timetable (Cardiff – Bristol – Weston-super-Mare – Bridgwater – Taunton – Exeter)