The Forest of Dean.

Local Walks



Local Walks In and around the Forest.

Walk to Blaize Bailey.

These are some pictures of another Local Walk I did not too long ago - From Soudley Pond Car Park up to the Blaize Bailey Viewpoint and back [It only takes an hour or so and is well worth the walk].
So it had stopped raining and working in the loft, re-flooring over all that itchy insulation material, had suddenly lost its savour ... The great outdoors beckoned and I put on my large brown walking boots and clumped off down the lane over to Soudley Ponds. There is a little lane that cuts through a bit of the Forest down by the Dean Heritage Museum that links up to the road from Soudley to Littledean. It was beautifully quiet, a bit windy and somewhat damp underfoot and all I could hear was the wind rasping through the pine needles above my head, the occasional squeak of two branches sawing against each other. No car sounds - Nothing. No fumes - Nothing. Just clean fresh air ... Have you ever smelled a Forest sheep really close up ? Well, Don't ... This one stank to high heaven and I'm not too sure whether he was a one-time white sheep or really was one of the Black Sheep of the Forest.

It's funny what you find if you keep your eyes open ! I was struggling up one of the Forest paths that, supposedly, led to the Blaize Bailey Viewing Point and thinking to myself: "Whose Bright Idea Was This?" as the path degenerated into a slushy fast running stream. To steady myself against the 'Niagara-like roaring torrent' (So it seemed to me) I had delicately held a clump of somewhat muddy twigs between my thumb and forefinger in an attempt to prevent myself from being swept down the hill again. Wiping the sweat from my eyes with my free hand I suddenly became aware that civilisation was just over the brow of the hill. I slipped and slithered a few more feet and saw this little green caravan that once had been part of a Forest Romany clan and now was ending its days as a 'potting shed' - no doubt a refuge from the hurly-burly of Forest Life !

Alas ! It was not "Civilisation" - or rather, like the Himalayas, the top was a bit further on ... and on ... and on. At one more of the inevitable re-occurring short sharp incredibly steep ski-slopes that passed as 'The Route' ("Are you sure, Lad, that you knew what you were doing ?", I hear you mutter. Well, to be quite frank - there seemed to be a small discrepancy between the scrap of paper on which I had so cavalierly jotted down 'The Route' and this thing called "The Real World"). Well, as I was saying - I was paused on this slope, wondering why I hadn't brought some crampons along when I became aware of that smell again ... an indescribable "Pong" that left me gasping and with tears in my eyes. Yes, there - Miss Demure herself, was yet another chlorofil-filled, lanolin-soft woolly-jumper-in-the-making sheep. We exchanged demure glances ... I noticed her lipstick had slipped, she noticed that I had slipped and fallen into some of her 'Poo' - Ah, well ... I suppose that's what "Country Life" is all about.

In reality, I was beginning to think that all this healthy exercise was a bit over-rated and starting to suffer from comfort-and-warmth withdrawal symptoms when I heard a dog. I distincly heard a dog, and then a gate squeak and then bang. "That's Civilisation", I said to myself. "Where's there's Dogs and Gates there's Life - I'm not lost ... I'm Not ... I'm NOT !" The Dog, or rather the Pair of Dogs, seemed of the bullying kind and spoke most unkindly to me - Actually I was quite scared ... The small one (A refugee from 'Up North' - Yorkshire, I think) was not too bad ... just a bit interested in my ankles and what socks I was wearing but the Gigantically Enormous Sort Of Great Dane Baskerville Hound that accompanied him was something else. I was not very happy. I had already eaten my 'Big Eats' otherwise I could have bargained with him. As it was I sort of flapped my hands in the air and fled - luckily, still in a forward direction and past this house, where the terrible twins lived - rushed round the corner and there in front of me were the stone bastion walls of Blaize Bailey. I was saved.

The view was worth it. Some public minded people had carved out a D-shaped stone buttress with really sturdy parapets and stone seats as a viewpoint cum picnic place for us 'Bona-fide' travellers. Lounging against the parapet, there in front of me was the wide valley of the Severn flood plain. The wide-sweeping S-bends with little villages clustered along the high-tide mark, fields - ever-so neat and green with brown hedges and little specks of white seagulls dotted across the ploughed fields. The river itself reflected the blue sky and the whole scene was so 'English' you could feel your roots deep into the earth - or was that just me being dog-tired and not wanting to lift my mud-clogged boots and walk back out of the Forest ? Any Road, it was an effort well-spent.

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