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Winter sunshine – a Bath country walk in pictures

Monkton Combe – Limpley Stoke – Freshford

The January sunshine yesterday was glorious, and after a long rainy, grey spell I was keen to get out into the countryside and feel the sun on my face. I walked along some favourite routes from the southern edge of Bath outwards, joining up the villages of Monkton Combe, Limpley Stoke and Freshford. This included some paved paths and country lanes, but most of the walk was on footpaths ranging from ‘muddy’ to ‘phenomenally muddy’. You should be able to trace my ramble on a map – but there are a lot of footpath options around here, so if you set off with a map you can plot your own course as you progress. Wear wellies, or be prepared for a lot of boot-cleaning afterwards!

Sights include: fields, sheep, gorgeous historic buildings in honey-coloured Bath stone, woods, old woollen mills, military history and refreshments. Also seen but not in the photos: guineafowl, deer, off-lead dogs, many bags of dog faeces abandoned by anti-social owners, friendly walkers.

Looking back up towards Shaft Road during the descent into Monkton Combe
Monkton Combe church
Station Cottage, Mill Lane in Monkton Combe. The station beyond, which has now vanished along with the railway line, was one of the locations for the film The Titfield Thunderbolt
Former mill buildings, Monkton Combe
Frost in the valley bottom. There were a few patches of ice about, too
Through the woods. Fallen trees are left to lie here, so walkers’ feet weave new alternative paths, and then alternatives to those…
Wntry sunshine through the trees
The old Baptist chapel, Limpley Stoke (now a home)
There’s a construction boom in these beauty spots, accelerated by the pandemic. Lots of houses being enlarged or replaced
One of the best benches round these parts, alongside Limpley Stoke church and the footpath down to the Freshford village shop
Pretty Freshford still has a village school. In the summer I saw children having an outdoor lesson around this tree
Freshford church
Freshford, with its mills, was once more workaday than it is now, when locals have mostly been priced out
The Inn at Freshford. More of a gastropub than a walker’s rest now
Still a nice sunny garden for a half of cider (keeping well wrapped-up), even if there weren’t any crisps
Freshford sheep. A dog-walker was ignoring the huge signs saying ‘DOGS ON LEADS’
Second World War defences: a pillbox by the river Frome
And another…
And another. This pillbox is by Rosemary Lane and Dunkirk Mill
A welcoming sign on a public footpath through Friary Wood, by Dunkirk Mill
A ribbon wall to highlight violence against women. It’s grown a lot since I last passed this way
A tantalising glimpse of the very private Hinton Priory, which for several centuries played a big part in shaping the landscape and economy for miles around
Growing crops. I saw a deer in this field but it wisely fled at the approach of an off-lead dog
The claggiest mud of the walk
The continuous lines of footpaths here would have been important ancient routes connecting villages and sites like the priory. The Old Track descends towards Monkton Combe
I’m always thankful when I don’t meet horses or cyclists on this narrow bridleway, which in the summer was wildly overgrown
Nearing the end of the short winter day and the walk

I’ve written practical notes about walking in this area, along with the refreshment options available in and around the local villages: Country walks south of Bath