Like clockwork, a bank holiday brings a required journey to the countryside or the beach. That’s just always how things have been done on our Fair Isle. So as not to disappoint we climbed into our trusty polo and headed off to Chew Magna to meet up with the remainder of the M Clan.
Chew Magna, in North East Somerset, is typical of a rural village that benefits from being near a big city – all amenities only a short drive to Bristol but submerged in a beautiful countryside. Chew Magna is an ideal gateway for a pleasant walks along public footpaths including the possibility of trekking to Chew Valley Lake. Blagdon Lake is also nearby but Blagdon village would probably offer a better starting point.
Once you come into Chew Magna from the B3130 there will be signs for free parking just off the main street. From here it is easy to stroll around the village and admire the cottages and age old buildings, There are also various signposts indicating Public foothpaths.
The walk was full of wild flowers, birds and vast views of the surrounding landscape. Unfortunately you are very likely to encounter dogs not being kept on a lead and if you are unlucky, as Boo was, then you might even get beat up by another, bigger four legged creature. Strolling along the river down towards the lake, crossing fields and cows, it feel s like you could be in Devon’s notorious countryside.
The lake, artificially built in the 1950’s is source of much of Bristol’s drinking water. The area covered by the lake was once the location of farmhouses and other inhabitants. On dry summer days, when the water level recedes, remnants of old buildings can sometimes be seen. There have also been ghost stories, claiming that the creation of the lake lead to the death of people whose spirits sometimes roam the roads by the lake when the moon comes out. You could say that as far as the lake is concerned, the myth is better than the real thing. On a sunny day it might be nice for a picnic but other than that you require a permit if you want to fish, sail or go to Denny island.
Back in the village there were only three pubs, two on the main road and one tucked behind the Church. Queen’s Arms is on a quiet road just behind the Church cemetery (it doesn’t encroach!) and offers a nice selection of ales and decent food.
All in all Chew Magna is nice to get a taste of the countryside but it feels like there is something lacking. Comparing it to somewhere in Devon or even Cornwall it kind of lacks that sense of mysticism and peacefulness that comes from something deeper than a lack of cars and people, something that I can’t quite put my finger on yet..