Goblin Combe: A Familiar Place

In early October, I went for a local walk up and over the hill and down in to Goblin Combe. This is an area I know very well; having grown up to one side of the woods and now, having lived on the opposite side for the past five-years.

With every visit to a familiar place, there’s always something different you can discover.

I’m comfortable walking to the woods from Wrington without the need for a map or satellite navigation. Once inside the boundary, I’m also confident in knowing which paths lead to where (with perhaps, the occasional exception).

On this day, I felt bamboozled and slightly disorientated, as I reached the not-so-familiar cross-paths junction…

But the map and information sign I’d been expecting to see was disguised beyond a great overhanging mass of greenery. If anyone can name the tree and educate me, please leave a comment below!

An easy option would’ve been to descend to the floor of the valley and join the expectant crowd of local-dwelling dog walkers. Instead, I continued to climb and build upon my elevation. But the once-familiar way forward was soon close to being lost as a lot of forestry work has been undertaken, meaning the faithful trail the on the ground exists buried beneath a stack of leaves, branches and more.

I think I resorted to using the GPS on my phone, just until I arrived at the boundary as marked on my map and I could then follow that on to my intended destination of the clifftop area; a stone’s throw from the Paintball.

Arrive here on a weekend and you’ll most likely be joined by others. I was grateful to have this space and time to myself, having walked up on a weekday. An Ordnance Survey map wouldn’t necessarily help you find this spot as there is no marked path to guide you on your way.

A sitting bench has been in place here for a number of years. It’s almost rude of me, that I do not know the name of the person who’s memory it is dedicated to.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that a second bench has been installed. Even though the two are now at slightly odd angles to one another.

It looks to me as though the top of this new bench is made from cedar – one of the few natives species that I’ve sadly never worked with (excluding the occasional fence post; I’m referring to furniture making). I like the simple ‘slab’ style. In fact, whenever I set myself up with another workshop, I’d like to make a few similar benches to them and donate them to local areas, like the Mendip Hills. I’m often on a walk, thinking to myself, ‘how far until the next bench?’.

While I understand the convenience of nailing each board in to place (which does match the original bench beside it), I’m disappointed to see screws used that leave the heads sitting proud. Maybe there was a good reason for this… And I can say from experience, that they do not actually interfere with the human body!

These fixings only exist close to both meeting edges of the boards and to the centre of the bench. This allows to timber to expand and contract across its width, with seasonal changes in humidity and moisture. This was good to see, as much mass-produced garden furniture wouldn’t have been designed with such a consideration for the material.

I used to know and work with a few members of the Goldstone family, although I don’t think I ever knew or met Bernard. I’m sure he’ll be missed but again, it was good to find something familiar so close by.

I think I had lunch on the top – why on Earth wouldn’t I have, with the views available?! Treading my way downhill, gradually, I passed an obscure and discarded jumper. Was it really too warm? Or did someone develop a sense of taste and mild fashion sense?

If anyone can explain to me what might be taking places amongst these trees right here, please leave a comment below.

I’ll try to revisit soon, so we can see whether you’re right!

This wooden shelter has lived in these woods for I-don’t-know-how-long. On several occasions, I’ve used it as a sheltered space for my lunch stop. Most often, I believe, it is used for educational purposes with children, with Goblin Combe Environment Centre.

But the roof is in growing need of repair, if not replacement.

I’ve occasionally thought about wild camping here… It seems like a very appropriate spot, although an area that’s frequently pounded by foot traffic. Perhaps I should look elsewhere.

Upon leaving the woods, I chose to revisit a stile that has long been in need of some attention. Mostly recently, I believe I reported this to North Somerset Council in early 2017… I am very certain that they even replied to say that the repairs would or had been completed…

Quite clearly, the situation has not improved and I feel slightly disheartened with the idea of informing them again.

Over the last few years, I have committed a lot of time and effort to drive up and down the country; climbing hills and mountains in various locations that I’d not previously visited… I can always feel grateful to have a space like Goblin Combe so close to home.

Thanks for reading.

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

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