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The last time Zoe and I had been out for our monthly walk and pub lunch had been early March. We met up again last Friday, for a socially distanced walk. This included some of Somerset’s dramatic coast, and ended not at a pub, but with us sitting on a church wall eating a packed lunch. Zoe’s husband Bruce joins us sometimes, and he did so this time. That was fortunate, because, although the walk was a straightforward one, and I had its broad outline in my head, I was not familiar with the area, and I had managed to leave the plan at home. Bruce using the OS map on his phone was able to sort out the occasional detail.

The weather forecast was for sunny intervals and a moderate breeze. In the event, the sun was not around, and the breeze certainly was, along with a sea mist. But it was great to see my friends again, and the sea. The last time I saw the latter was the Atlantic Ocean, off the Moroccan coast, early in March. How long ago that all seems now, yet how grateful I am to have had that holiday which set me up so well just before lockdown.

It was only a short walk, along the coastline from Kilve through Quantock’s Head and on for a further kilometre, inland for a kilometre, and then back, parallel to the coast through East Quantoxhead, back to the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Kilve, and thence coastwards back to our cars. No prizes for guessing that the range of hills around there are the Quantocks.

Zoe mentioned that there was a wave-cut platform here, sadly covered by the high tide. Nigel Phillips has written a wonderful book called Somerset’s Coast, a Living Landscape, in which he says that this particular area is well-known for the ammonite fossils which can be found here. He also mentions the birds and flowers to look out for. Indeed the whole book is a guide to the geology, fauna and flora of the coastline, lavishly (as they say, and it’s true here) illustrated with his own photos.

We stayed up on the clifftop, buffeted by the strong breeze, which fortunately was not too cold.

From here on, we were sheltered from the breeze by a blackthorn hedge
An inlet,
… which turned out to have some interesting sedimentary geology.
I had to look this up when I got home. It is wild madder, relative to the plant the roots of which used to be used to make red dye.
Court House, East Quantoxhead. It (or rather the land on which it stands) has been in the same family since around 1070. They used also to own Dunster Castle, further west along the coast. The present building is mainly 17th century.
Looking back from near our highest point, one can make out…
… the construction of Hinkley Point C, nuclear power station.
How to open a kissing gate when you don’t want to touch it with your hand
As we turn inland we come across a family picnic, next to the stile.
How to open a stile gate when it has a latch and you don’t want to touch it with your hand..
A row of elms, a rarity these days.
The wild flowers of the outward walk were replaced inland on the walk back with farm crops. Here broad beans
The back of Court House. I see its gardens were due to open under the National Gardens Scheme on 19th July. I wonder whether that will go ahead.
Nigel Phillips mentions that swallows are to be seen around here.
Approaching East Quantoxhead village
All proper villages should have a duck pond.
And the parish church nearby. 14th century Grade II listed building.
The stables of Eric and Nell.
Acanthus, aka Bear’s breeches, alongside the stream. A garden escape?
From the coast we had been able to see this vast flat area, that looked sort-of like a lake but clearly wasn’t as it didn’t shine. It turned out to be this field of flax, impressive but dead to wildlife.
That’s more like it.

And we arrived at another 14th century church dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, the parish church of Kilve, where we ate our lunch – very socially distanced. The wall was warm to sit on, having held on to, and releasing to our benefit, the heat of previous days.

Hopefully it won’t be another four months before we meet up again.