You’ll know that walking is our active pastime of choice. We’ve enjoyed some good walks recently including, with only a late afternoon to spare, a trail on our nearby Blackdown Hills.
From the tiny hamlet of Whitehall, north east of Hemyock, we walked to Culmstock Beacon and back. We didn’t achieve quite the circular walk we intended as Eric lost a glove en route and we retraced our steps in an unsuccessful attempt to find it. He awaits Santa’s arrival hopefully…
Culmstock Beacon is one of very few stone beacons in the UK. Resembling a large beehive, the structure is big enough to give shelter to a beacon keeper. A hole through the domed roof allows access to the fire basket erected on a central wooden pole. It’s thought the beacon dates back to the Armada, or possibly earlier, and was linked to beacon hills at Blackborough, Upottery and Holcombe Rogus. If indeed its provenance is Elizabethan, it would almost certainly have been built to warn of a Spanish invasion; if of medieval origin, it might have been restored for the same purpose.
What I find puzzling is why, living almost on the doorstep for some decades, we were unaware of this feature’s existence until very recently.
Blackdown Hills AONB spans the two counties of Devon and Somerset. It covers an area of 140 sq miles and at it highest point, Staple Hill in Somerset, is 310 metres above sea level. Our walk, a little short of 5 miles, took us uphill via the little hamlet of Culm Davy with its Chapel of Ease (unfortunately locked), through forest and ancient woodland, glorious in it’s autumn colours, onto Blackdown Common. It was across the common’s wide swathes of grass that we walked to where the beacon is situated on this area’s highest point ie 250m.
We returned home as the sun was setting; the sky magnificent to the west.