Sunday, 7 June 2009

Stage 5 - Cousley Wood to Union Street (6 miles)

This section was walked on the spur of the moment one Saturday afternoon, when neither of us had any other plans. It was a gorgeous sunny day with fluffy marshmallow clouds. Much of this walk followed the north shore of Bewl Water reservoir, the largest area of in-land water in south-east England.
The Old Vine

We parked close to our previous finish point on the B2100 and walked about 350m up the road to Cousley Wood. Just past The Old Vine pub (which was closed for renovation work), we turned right down a private road by a sign to Little Butts Farm.
Zuka poses in front of our first view of Bewl
When the lane turned left we carried straight on along a grassy track with views over Bewl Water. At the top of the rise we bore left to descend gently across a field, and then a little more steeply down the edge of the next one.
Marshmallow clouds
Just before reaching the reservoir, we crossed a more uncultivated section and the path was quite overgrown. We met a family here out walking. Unfortunately Poppy ran ahead to greet them before I was aware of their presence and I think she gave one or two of them a good licking. I don’t think they were very doggy people, unfortunately!

Poppy waits for Zuka to fetch the stick

Crossing a stile we came to Bewl Water, where we turned left to follow the northern shore of the reservoir for perhaps a couple of miles. Our route today would take us round less than half of the shore line. I have walked the whole thing (approx 13 miles) a number of times in the past (once, notably in bare feet!), but not for a year or two. Anne had actually done the round reservoir walk a couple of weeks previously with the Adult Ed walking group that she leads.

Following the shoreline path, we were sometimes in the open (where the dogs frolicked in the shallows – Poppy playing her “you fetch the stick from the water, Zuka, then I’ll nick it from you as you come out” trick!), sometimes on a woodland path. We also met an exuberant Rotty-cross which kept leaving its owner to join our dogs in chasing games along the shoreline.

The dogs (plus one) enjoy a game of chase
Stunning views

After perhaps 3km we veered uphill away from the water on a metalled track. This track eventually met the Bewl Water visitor centre access road, where we turned right. This route was as marked on the OS map, although subsequent closer reading of the guide book suggests that the actual route of the SBP keeps closer to the reservoir. I can’t recall now if we saw any SBP signs on this section.

Wooden heron sculpture near visitor center
As we walked up the narrow tree-lined road we repeatedly had to stand aside for a stream of classic cars. After just under 1km, we turned right and followed the drive to the car park, deciding to take a slight detour to the visitor centre for use of their facilities and to buy some refreshments.
Classic car rally
Reading a description/history of the car

It now became clear that the cars that had passed us had been on their way to a classic car rally and the car park was full of the most wonderful old cars, and we spent a few minutes admiring them before heading for the visitor centre.Peering over the dam wall

After a quick break and some welcome refreshments, we retraced our tracks back up the drive before turning right down some steps to reach the main reservoir dam. We followed the wide path across the dam before passing through a gate and returning to a mainly wooded round reservoir path.
Wooded path Where has all the blue sky gone?

As we continued, the clouds were thickening ahead of us. Having walked a further 3km or so, we reached a road and turned right to cross another, smaller dam. By now, the blue sky was gone, and it was quite overcast, even a bit threatening. Shortly after the dam we turned left to cross a stile and follow a path east along the bottom of fields. The tip of the reservoir was on our left.View from the road dam Heading east on grassy path

Soon, crossed a footbridge and stile and finally said goodbye to the reservoir as we swung south-east and began to climb through a wood. There appeared to be quite a few deer smells around, judging by Poppy’s excitement, so she went on the flexi-lead to be on the safe side.Zuka has no need for the dog gate

We crossed another footpath and continued to climb. Eventually we emerged from the wood onto a track and we passed a number of houses before we emerged onto the B2087 at Union Street.The only real climb of the day

This had been a relatively easy stroll, as the round reservoir route is essentially flat. The only real climb had been the one right at the end, on the approach to Union Street.
The northern shore path

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