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Take a romantic walk

PUBLISHED: 09:34 06 February 2015 | UPDATED: 09:34 06 February 2015

Snowdrop Valley

Snowdrop Valley

Archant

Words and pictures: Simone Stanbrook-Byrne and James Clancy.

Snowdrop ValleySnowdrop Valley

Enjoy a scenic walk this month amid the stunning surroundings of the beautiful Snowdrop Valley.

One crisp, winter’s morning, when the bridleways of one of the suggested routes to Snowdrop Valley were crisply frosted from the night before, we set off from Wheddon Cross for a stout walk. It didn’t disappoint.

The first section, although rough underfoot at times, was a pleasing amble to the historic packhorse bridge at Luckwell. After this the way became increasingly uppish and our thermal layers started to feel a bit too cosy.

Gateway views gave us a good chance to cool off before we followed paths across lovely Combeshead Farm, one of the Snowdrop Valley website-recommended B&Bs. We had a good natter with the owners and their delightful dogs under the watchful eye of the Dunkery Beacon cairn, high above us on the wild, windy and view-rich summit of Exmoor.

Beyond the farm the paths descended ‘squishily’, dropping through storm-tumbled Blagdon Woods to the river.

We still weren’t quite at our destination but from time to time we spotted clusters of snowdrops, scattered heralds of what was ahead.

And what a sight that was. Descending on Sir Robin’s Path our first glimpse into the valley was from above. Once we reached the lane and could look along the valley bottom from the gate it was hard to take it all in; the slopes and river banks a quivering mass of white, a kind of snowdrop sanctuary. The fanciful me 
says there must be millions of them – all bobbing up and down and loving the adulation of an adoring public. What joy!

We walked the circular path around the valley, enjoying the sound of the teeming river. Occasionally we stooped to prop up a muddied, green-veined face, victim of a wayward boot, but thankfully these were few and far between, the fragile flowers being respected and treated with a kind of reverence by a myriad of visitors.

It was hard to tear ourselves away but eventually we wended our way homewards, uphill nearly all the way back to Wheddon Cross and a hearty lunch in the enticing and appropriately-named Rest and Be Thankful Inn.

The glory of the snowdrops in their valley took our minds off the ascent; a legion of tiny reminders that nature gets it so right. And heart-warming, in our complicated world, to see so many people going out of their way to pay homage to these little flowers; spring beacons in the dark of winter.

Look out for:

The Wheddon Cross / Cutcombe Parish Council website (wheddoncross.org.uk) suggests options on walks of various lengths, from short 30 minute walks to a three-hour walk, all of which culminate in the valley. You can then follow a different route back or catch the bus. Dogs on leads are welcome.

The website also gives opening times and a timetable for the Park and Ride bus service which runs regularly from Wheddon Cross during snowdrop season.

Car parks are clearly signed in the village. There are many nearby refreshment options in pubs, cafés and restaurants, and, to give yourself more time to really explore the area, treat yourself to a stay at one of the local B&Bs.

For information about limited-mobility access you can contact 07531 680445 during the snowdrop season or email snowdropvalley@gmail.com

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