A coach full of Stratford Ramblers set out on Wednesday 3rd August on a bright sunny morning. The end point was to be the city of Bath but the first drop off point was at Keynsham (a name known to older readers who will remember the advertisements on Radio Luxembourg). The path followed the line of the river before diverting on to the Monarch`s Way and then along the line of the preserved railway towards the Riverside Station on the Avon Valley Railway. The coffee stop was taken before passing beneath the railway line and just at that moment a train came by drawn by a preserved steam locomotive. The full train was making the short journey from Bitton Station to the end of the line at the Riverside Station.
The walk went on to the village of Swineford and then followed a track uphill. The first field had a cross field path and a large bull stood on the line of the path. The group veered away to the left and the bull carried out a speculative investigation before deciding that the members were not a threat and he could return to eating and fulfilling his duty in protecting his female companions. After that it was a steady climb on an ancient trackway to the village of North Stoke. It was there that the extensive views opened out over the valley of the other River Avon. A further climb brought the group to the cross over point with the Cotswold Way and lunch was taken at a clearing in a community woodland site along the path.
It was then downhill all the way to Bath. The group left the Cotswold Way to drop to the road and past a roadside verge with a strong display of everlasting sweet peas. Then down to the river close to the Park and Ride facility. Members were given the option to continue by bus but the whole party elected to carry on walking along the riverside path. This is a delightful approach to Bath and the shared cycle path becomes a towpath. The leader had given a warning about cyclists approaching at some speed but the cyclists who passed by were polite and considerate. It was a surprise to come to a sign indicating that the towpath was closed. It was a further surprise to reach the designated coach pick up point in the city and find that access to that point was denied.
The members who had set out earlier on a shorter walk had already encountered these problems. The short walk had stayed on the disused railway track and on the river side to give a pleasant stroll of about 5 miles towards Bath. The diversion from the towpath meant that the walk finished with a dreary roadside walk into the city where it became clear that finding the bus would not be a problem. Coaches are allowed a 10 minute slot to pick up passengers and the group had to find the coach, change from walking boots and get on board in that time. The party made it with minutes to spare. There was time for a refreshment break before the ride back to Bearley for Stratford.