A seascape stroll
PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 May 2016
Mark G Whitchurch takes us on a Great Drive that sees a fascinating folly and incorporates a couple of brisk walks.
Dominating a clearing within the Cranmore Wood, at an elevation of 1,050 feet above sea level, is Cranmore Tower. It was built in the 1860s by Somerset Stone Masons upon request of land owner John Moore Paget and today is a wonderful destination following a walk through the woods. There is even the promise of tea and cake served in the adjacent rustic café!
After and visit to the tower and back in the car, turn left onto the Old Wells Road in the direction of Shepton Mallet. Upon reaching Long Cross Bottom Road turn right, now heading for Stoke St Michael. Cruise through this pretty village and follow the network of lanes to Nettlebridge and the A367. Take a right again now with a bearing on Radstock. Enjoy the straights of the Fosse Way to the roundabout with the B3139 where it’s left with signposts for Chilcompton. Drive through this elongated village to join the A37, now heading north.
At the junction with the A39 it’s left and back out into the wilderness of the Mendip Hills. Following the dry stone walls into Chewton Mendip where it’s right to join the B3144 through the hamlet of Litton to join the A368 in West Harptree. Now on one of my favourite Somerset roads, travel through Compton Martin and towards Blagdon enjoying beautiful views over the Chew Valley and Blagdon Lake. At the Churchill traffic lights with the A38 it’s straight over, passing through the village of Sandford and into Banwell, turning right on to the A371 in the middle of this quaint village.
Look out for Wolvershill Road on the right hand side, which will take you over the M5 motorway and into the ‘burbs of Weston-super-Mare. At the roundabout on the dual carriageway with the A370 it’s straight over, following the road to Summer Lane and the New Bristol Road. Heading away from Weston, look out for Queens Way, with signposts for Kewstoke and Sand Bay.
Nearing journey’s end, remain on Queens Way as it traverses numerous roundabouts and as the road narrows it becomes Lower Norton Lane. Once in the village of Kewstoke, it’s right onto Crookes Lane and then right on to Beach Road. With views out to sea, continue along Beach Road to the National Trust car park at the far end where we can reach for our walking boots once again. From here enjoy a stroll to Middle Hope, with some interesting history to observe along the way as well as some bird watching. w
For more details of this walk log onto nationaltrust.org.uk/mendip-hills/trails/sand-point-circular-coastal-walk
For such an outdoorsy Great Drive, we chose an appropriate vehicle! However, the Range Rover Sport proved to be not only excellent at linking our walks, but at every aspect of modern motoring. Could this be my favourite car?
Undoubtedly a triumph of British design and engineering and now sharing its chassis with its big brother, the Range Rover , the new Sport is a class act with dynamics to upstage its rivals. I am sold on the looks from the outset; a blend of desirable design cues of the stately Range Rover, as well as more funky features borrowed from the Evoque. Flicks on both the front and rear light clusters together with a cleaner, slightly more aerodynamic stance complete the subtle enhancements to the Sport’s new look. Tested in Metallic Montalcino Red, an SUV doesn’t look much better than this.
With the range topping Autobiography interior, the cabin leaves you wanting for nothing. Elegant and clean in its design, brushed aluminium and high grade leather adorn all surfaces creating an ambiance second to none - this side of a Rolls-Royce Phantom! Switchgear and controls all look and feel as if they have been designed for a premium machine - and not one with field crossing potential!
Bristling with discreetly hidden technology, long journeys are like a first class ticket to New York. Rear screens to keep the children entertained, whilst the front screen splits its pixels to provide the driver with sat-nav information, simultaneously allowing the passenger to watch a film or the television. More screens display the dials in the driver’s binnacle, radar assisted cruise control helps to keep your distance on the motorway, whilst you can sit back and enjoy the sumptuous heated seats and steering wheel. I particularly liked the optional glass roof, which was so extensive it felt like the roof had been removed!
For 2016 the Range Rover Sport is available with five engine options; three diesel variants including a hybrid, as well as two V8 supercharged petrol variants, with the range topping SVR pumping out 550bhp! We opted for the 3.0 litre V6 diesel, with 306bhp, which offers an excellent balance between power and economy.
With this new Sport boasting the majority of its construction from lightweight aluminium, the second generation version is lighter than the original. With the engine tested, this offers 44.1,mpg on a run whilst emitting 185kg of CO2.
For me, the Range Rover Sport really excelled in the everyday aspects of modern motoring, but with this practicality came British class and style. And when I fancied putting my toe down for some spirited motoring it was engaging. Whist I am not about to give up my Ferrari dream garage for a Range Rover Sport, I have to say that if there was a ‘desert island car’, the Range Rover Sport really could be it! For the Autobiography edition tested, prices start at £77,850. I’d best start saving!