My training plan called for a 10 mile run so I fired up the rail network map to see if there were any stations that I could head to and run via trails to another. Turns out that Trowbridge to Bath via trails is around 10 miles so started to plot a route between the two using the OS Maps app.
The app is so useful for plotting distance, elevation and giving you an estimate of time. I usually opt for a mix of trails, woodland and country lanes and try to include any historical features along the way. I’ll have no idea what the paths will be like along the way and there’s a chance that some of the paths may be overgrown or inaccessible but that’s part of the adventure. Having the OS Maps app on the phone means I can always look for an alternative route.
Many trip that start at a train station involve navigating through the roads and streets to get to the trails and Trowbridge was no different although it wasn’t long before I was running along a country lane out of town complete with a little rabbit in the road (from a distance it looked like a cowpat so I didn’t get the camera out, and then it moved).
The first trail I encountered was a double corn field that was clearly a well established path due to the amount of vegetation that was growing on the path between the corn. It was great fun dashing through the waist-high vegetation avoiding the odd thistle along the way. The morning dew did mean that the trainers and socks got wet early into the run.
The historic village of Westwood is mentioned in the Domesday Book and is first mentioned in 983AD. Today, the quaint village was being disturbed by sounds of the nearby Farleigh Castle Hungerford Motocross Track which I could hear but was always out of view.
When passing through villages I like to seek out phone boxes that have been converted into libraries and the one in Westwood is the best I’ve seen so far. Those responsible for restoring the phone box have even gone as far as trying to categorise the books.
Interestingly, the village has quarries in the area complete with tunnels that were used during the Second World War to house a number of works of art from the British Museum and the V&A.
Just beyond Westwood is Iford and descending down into the hamlet I was reminded about the bridge that I had learned about while researching the route but had forgotten about. Iford, or originally Igford in 987AD (meaning a ford with an island) , straddles the River Frome and features the 15th/16th century Iford manor on the west side. The bridge is perhaps from c1400 but has been in existence since the 1680s although the statue of Britannia was added in 1899 by Harold Peto who lived in the manor between 1899 and 1933.
The picturesque bridge appeared to be a popular resting place for cyclists, photographers and those with dogs eager to play in the River Frome.
Every run/walk features cows so at this point I was halfway through the route and I hadn’t encountered a single one. Then I did.
This section of the route was a dog leg turn in a wooded area at the edge of a field and as I approached the woodland there was a pond with the soil around it cut up considerably. Clearly this was an area used by cows and shortly into the wood there they were, taking shelter from the late morning sun. The herd was friendly so didn’t mind me being there but weren’t interested in making a mooove. It was a long way back to make a detour so I decided that try and get through them. Fortunately I managed to scramble up a section which took me out of the wood and back onto the path I needed to get onto.
Next on the route was Freshford which I’m familiar with from past walks. For this section I purposefully took a slight detour so that I could climb up through a woodland section and enjoy the fast descent to Freshford. The path exited at the Freshford Inn, a picturesque pub on the southern edge of the village and as I ran past it I wished I had started a little later so that I could have stopped for a beer.
The previous time I had visited was via train so I didn’t see much of the village but today’s route took me through the heart of it passing building such as the Old Parsonage, the Old Fire Engine House and the mill which has long been part of the village (there has been a mill since at least 1086 although now is used for housing).
Beyond Freshford I dropped down along a sunken path (I never get tired of navigating along a sunken path) into Monkton Combe. The village featured an interesting historical feature – a lockup built in 1776. The building was just 9 square feet but had two cells inside, the first was lit by the light coming through the door but the second was completely dark with just 8 small holes for ventilation.
Being located in a valley, and Bath being in another, there was a sizeable climb out of Monkton Combe but interestingly, the path up the hill was paved and bordered by stone walling. Clearly the path had been in use for some time (possibly to allow people to walk down to the church at the end of the path) and had been made permanent.
After Monkton Combe comes Combe Down and rather than taking Ralph Allen Drive (A3062) down to Bath, I took a path to the side which runs through Perry Mead which is far more interesting. The trail runs parallel to the A road but is far more scenic.
The route finished at Bath railway station at 10.5 miles which was only 0.5 miles over what I was expecting.
Rather than heading to Beercraft like the last run that ended in Bath, I visited a pub I hadn’t been to in many years – The Raven. According to a local, the chairs outside the pub were a new addition and a trial held by the council and the pint of cold Rye IP was very welcome. I also visited the Old Green Tree which was another pub I hadn’t visited for some time.