Day 16

Congresbury to Bristol – 17.2 miles (249.4 total)

Last night I stayed outside Congresbury, so this morning’s walk took me through a golf course, across 3 fields, then into the town itself. One of the fields had some quite hostile sheep in it and, crazy as it sounds, I was relieved to clang the gate shut behind me. This is still the lambing season so I guess they were being protective of their young, but aggressive sheep are not something I have encountered very often.

Cadbury Hill

My heading, at this point, was due north, following roads by walking along pavements (sidewalks). At Yatton I changed to a north-easterly direction to climb the historic site of Cadbury Hill. At the top are the remains of an Iron Age hill fort. The path up was fine, the path down was worrying and the path back to the road was a killer. Yet again I found myself walking through standing water and thick red mud, getting scratched by the dense briar that lined both sides of the path. So early in the day and already my boots and trouser legs were soaking and covered in mud.

Killer path

I was glad to get back to the road. My concern when planning today was that I had little choice but to use a few kilometres of ‘A’ road, and the roads were getting busier as I neared Bristol. Fortune was on my side, however, because the main road had a pavement/path for as long as I stayed on it. After my early-morning experience I decided to walk a lot more road than had been planned. Apart from one time, that is, when I ventured a quarter mile to find 3 paths signposted at a farm development: one path was blocked with a hill of manure, one path led to a water-filled ditch with an ancient stile on the far side completely covered in briar – the field beyond was saturated, and the third path led across a muddy field… to nowhere. I tried all 3 then gave up and retraced my steps to the road, which I wish I had never left.

After walking through Brockley and Backwell I left the main road at Flax Bourton to link up yet again with NCR33 cycle route and the day just got better after that. After Long Ashton I entered the magnificent Ashton Court Estate, a vast area of parkland owned by the City of Bristol.

Deer in Ashton Court Estate

The best was yet to come, though, because I soon arrived at something I had been looking forward to for the best part of 250 miles: the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It is a magnificent structure which spans the Avon Gorge. It was a genuine thrill to walk over it and I have no hesitation in placing it straight into my top 5 wonders of walking along with High Cup Nick, near Dufton, and the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct, at Llangollen, among others.

Man and Bridge

A pleasurable end to a memorable day having reached my first objective, the City of Bristol. Luckily I have a day off tomorrow because I will have to wash some walking trousers… again.