The year is drawing to its close; days are short, shadows long. It’s all too easy to look at the gloom outside and stay in. But being in feels so much better when you’ve been out, so now’s the time to make the most of dry days: wrap up, get outside and rub away the winter rust from your soul with a good walk.
Suddenly, gloomy December feels altogether less dreary – particularly if you add a visit to a favourite village inn. Sandford is lucky to have two to choose from – and there’s another treat in store.
Visit the village between 12 and 14 December and you will find the annual Christmas Tree Festival in the Congregational Church (noon to 5pm) – another excellent dispeller of winter gloom.
1 The Lamb Inn has long been one of my favourites, for food, entertainment and a lovely atmosphere. Set in The Square in the heart of Sandford it’s a good landmark from which to set out.
From its door follow the cobbled path uphill out of The Square along Church Street, passing the Congregational Church then the Parish Church on your left. At the T-junction, with the Old Police House ahead, turn left.
Walk uphill, away from the village centre, passing the school and then Orchard Close. Houses drop away and just over 300m beyond the outskirts of the village look for a public footpath going right off the road.
Take this, pausing to admire the view over the gate on the right as you leave the road. Follow the path downhill; it can be slithery. The hedgebanks are a good habitat for bullfinches who bounced along ahead of us, flashing their white rumps.
The path descends to a sharp right turn where a yellow-arrowed gate leads into a field.
2 Head across the field on the well-trodden path, aiming for the bottom corner where the path goes through the arrowed left-hand gate. Continue through the next two fields following the right-hand hedge; in the second field the church at Upton Hellions comes into view ahead.
The path reaches a lane, turn left then immediately right along the signed ‘public way’ in front of a house called Northlake. This hedged path leads down to the winter-swollen River Creedy across which horses are supposed to wade. Be grateful that you are relying on your own two feet and bear left on the yellow-arrowed path to find a handy wooden footbridge spanning the torrent.
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