Goodbye restrictions, hello adventure
With Covid restrictions around the UK relaxing, the time for exploring without fear of arrest is here. What better way to start than to find the nearest waterfall to your house?!?!
By using the AllTrails App, my girlfriend and I set off on an adventure to find ours. This plan, like many others, was made months ago; like farmers planting seeds, we clung to the idea that these plans would give us a bounty of good times in the months ahead.
The AllTrails app was a favourite of mine while looking for muddy off-piste trails for long runs without tarmac. I used it as a digital resource to discover the best local landmarks and attractions unknown to me. As I became satisfied with my running routes, usage dropped off until it was just another redundant app taking up memory on my phone.
That was until we moved to a new city. Once again, it proved its value as a tool that can unlock dark areas of the map.
Using the app
Here is how I used the app to find my nearest waterfall in 3 easy steps.
Click on the filter button to the right of the search bar.
Scroll down to attractions and hit the waterfall button, then press, See Trails.
If you want to be a stickler, you can view the trails on a map rather than as a list, that way you can compare the distances.
Now it is up to you to get out there
There it was —our destination — a return trip to Chew Valley Waterfall. After pressing on the directions button, it loaded on my maps, and I saved the start location for a sunny day.
All the trails I have visited have been well sign-posted, which is handy because the idea of walking around nature spots with a phone in hand seems like a contradiction. However, if you do stray from the path, there is a feature you can use to live-track your location to get yourself back on course.
After picking up a couple of road pastries, this waterfall adventure was underway. The roads out of town were stupid busy, so we were grateful to reach the quietier roads of the countryside.
As we got closer to the Mendip Hills, the road started to climb upwards, providing a scenic view back to where we started in Bristol. The air was clear enough that we could easily see the 10 or so miles we had travelled.
We were aiming for St Andrews church in Chew Stoke. From there, we would lock up our bikes and get started on the trail. Chew Stoke is a tiny village, and we still had our big city heads on. Meaning we just assumed there would be racks to lock our bikes to. That was not the case.
It proved not to be a big deal, except for a few stiles, there was no issue. The trail was peaceful. We only saw one group returning from the falls, but other than that, we had the place to ourselves.
The noises, stress and worries that regular life brings were left behind. The soundtrack to our walk was chirping birds, singing their hearts out, backed by the gurgling noise of the stream nearby.
On the app, someone had been bitching about the state of the path and left a 1-star review. To be fair to them, it was a bit muddy in places, but nothing you should not expect when you come to such a place. Don’t go there in your favourite shoes (unless they are wellies).
The trail then started to meander through a luscious green woodland. The scent of wild garlic dominated the air as if mother nature had packed it up my nose. The woodland began to open up and revealed the star attraction.
I don’t want to look at pictures of a place before I go (it ruins the surprise). So I got a very welcome surprise when I saw how captivating this secluded spot was. It exceeded my imagination, leaving me feeling enchanted (sorry if these pictures ruined the surprise for you. But what I will say is that pictures do not do it justice. You really should go there for yourself.).
After meeting the waterfall in person, there was an obligation to get in there. As expected, the water was fucking freezing, and I brought out the little bitch in me. I waded in up to my waist and complained for a while before properly getting in there.
After jumping from rock to rock, making our way back across the water on boulders serving as stepping stones, we sat down and had some lunch on a rope swing.
On our way back to the church, we packed a bag full of wild garlic to make pesto with when we got home. Fully restored from our time at the nearest waterfall to our house.
Nice one for making it all the way to the end. If you want to know anything else about the trip or adventure planning, please share it in the comments below. I also would like to add that the water was freezing. Probably best to bring a towel.