Ivor King’s Country Rambles around Pill
Walk 6 – Kings Arms, Oakham Farm, The Downs School, Failand Hill House, Lower Failand Farm, Rudgeleigh Inn, Kings Arms
A walk of about 7 miles with a number of stiles and kissing gates, just one steep ascent , open fields, wood and two pubs
The walk begins at the Kings Arms in Easton-in-Gordano, make your way there as you wish.
- Begin walking up St. George’s Hill, immediately past Walnut Close you will see a metalled drive to Saint George’s Hall. (The Hall was built by the then vicar of Saint George’s church, Henry Mirehouse, as his vicarage in the 1827 when he also rebuilt the church). Although walking groups use this safer route to get to and from the top of St George’s hill, it is private land and not a right of way so cannot be included in the walk which was my intention. So carry on up the hill passing the Lodge-house and entrance to the hall to the T junction. Cross the A369 and take the track sloping up left to a stile and gate. Turn right following a path to a double stile and crossed the field to a high metal gate between two lines of trees (Not the stile in the left corner), then through to a double stile and gate. Here, turn around to view the great curve of the M5 Avon Bridge. Follow the waymark keeping the trees on your left and aiming for a water trough. Soon cross a stile to the right. Two more stiles ahead – cross the left one keeping straight ahead with the hedge on your left. Cross the stile and follow the left-hand field hedge to a stile into Failand Lane with Waite’s Barn and Honor Farm on your left. Cross the stile opposite Honor Cottages making for where the field narrows. Go ahead to a metal gate in the left corner to an enclosed path leading to Oakham Farm and Portbury Lane.
- For a closer look at the lake, aim for a gate in the metal fence on your right which leads down steps to the water’s edge and a stone seat in memory of Graham Evans who died 7 May 2007 – a pleasant spot for a break. Oakham Treasures is well worth a visit but allow at least 2 hours. Cross Portbury Lane and climb the concrete track to a way-marked stile on left. Continue climbing steeply through Birch Wood. After about 50 yards go right following the waymark and keep climbing. At the T-junction go left and immediately right, climbing until you reach a stile on the edge of the wood facing an open field. Follow the waymark oblique right through the field to a wooden gate, then oblique left to a stile. Cross over and walk on towards an old brick building and another stile aiming diagonally for a gap in the far left-hand corner by a children’s play area in the grounds of Downs School.
- Then go diagonally across the cricket pitches or follow the left-hand boundary past the pavilion to a tree trunk for a rest! Find the stile in the small hedge corner then right with a tree-lined hedge on your right. Where the hedge ends you will see a metal kissing gate on the right, follow the waymark aiming for a solitary scots pine mid-field and a gap in the trees to a stile in the corner. Cross this and walk through on the left opposite Charlton Nursery and into Breach Wood. Go straight across at the cross-tracks. After a while emerge onto an enclosed track to Higher Farm, Limekiln Cottages and Portbury Lane. Pass on left of the farm buildings and follow the lane to the left. It’s plain to see that Limekiln Cottages have been rebuilt – and very nicely too!
- Cross Portbury Lane, through a kissing gate and up the track. At a sharp left-hand bend take the wide fenced track on the right leading to the left edge of Lime-Kiln Plantation then straight ahead at the cross tracks. Both Lime-Kiln Cottages and Plantation are named after the 18 /19C lime kilns which burnt limestone with coal and furze (gorse) to produce lime. At the end of trees, carry on along the track to emerge onto a driveway. Pass through a gap in the wall opposite and down a steep grassy bank (or right to join Horse-race Lane and then left). Follow the lane to the next left-hand bend with the entrance to Failand Hill House to your left. (Notice the buttresses and low arch) Ignore waymark pointing right and carry on round a bend to a metal squeeze stile on your right and onto a cricket field.
- Pass along the left-hand side of the field to a stile in the corner with fine views. Carry on with the hedge on your left to a stile that leads into an enclosed path, then another stile and an open field. Follow the track keeping to the left of the field to Oxhouse Lane. Cross the lane obliquely left to a path entrance to the right through trees. At the end of the path go through a kissing gate on the left (not over the stile ahead) down the field slope to a gully and a stile/gate on your left. Cross the stile and take the track climbing up to the right through Alder Bed Wood to exit with the wood on your right. The track then leads to Failand House Farm. Pass through a kissing gate to get onto Sandy Lane.
- Turn right with cottages on your left and just past the last cottage, cross a stile on the left and follow the waymark down the slope, with Lower Failand Farm on the right, to a stile/gate close to the farm buildings. Follow the waymark to the second stile/gate at which point go right to yet another stile/gate to emerge onto Common Lane. Cross the lane to a kissing gate and follow the hedge on your right with grand panoramic views. Carry on down the slope through a second kissing gate and a stile/gate. Cross the field to the far right-hand corner and join Happerton Lane. Go left, ignoring the waymark on the right between farm buildings at Happerton Farm and carry on along the lane for a 100yds or so.
- At the kissing gate on the right follow the distinct path ahead to a stile/gate. Follow the clear path to between two houses and a stile/gate onto a lane between the houses, which leads to the A369. Cross the road carefully and either stop at the Rudgeleigh Arms or go left returning to the Kings Arms via Rectory Road.