Wednesday, 22nd July, Downhead to Pennard Hill, 15 miles
Not only has Pat and her friend, Sally, kindly agreed to accompany us today for part of the way but she has also offered me one of her horses to ride, a grey gelding called Sailor, so that I can lead Tommy from a horse for a change and save my feet for a few miles. This is such a wonderful occasion, I ask Martin to take lots of pictures for me whilst we are getting ready to go.
The views from the top of the Mendip Hills are spectacular as we make our way around the edge of another massive quarry and begin to descend into the lowland. Unfortunately, I can’t take any photos because my hands are tied with riding Sailor and leading Tommy.
At Stoney Stratton, I have to say goodbye to my new steed as we must continue on foot from here. Martin has come with the trailer to collect Sailor, and Pat and Sally begin their hack home while I dress Tommy up with all our kit from the Land Rover before continuing.
When we reach Evercreech, I call Anne on my mobile as she has offered to come and meet us on her horse to escort us back to her place for the night. I decide I will wait for her by Lower Eastern Farm, just before the busy A 37, Shepton Mallet to Wraxall road, and just as I am approaching the farm, I spot her coming towards us on her handsome black hunter, Chance. Perfect timing.
I am so pleased Anne is going to help us negotiate the few hundred yards of busy road before the turn off but I didn’t realise in just what spectacular style this manoeuvre would be conducted. She had detected the slight hint of panic in my voice when I said I would wait for her to accompany us across the road. She assures me she will hold up the traffic if necessary.
We approach the junction. Waiting for a small break in the flow of cars and huge lorries thundering past, out into the road she rides, first bringing the oncoming traffic to a halt. Then she quickly turns Chance around, rides swiftly up the road to our turn off and, standing in the path of the massive lorries hurtling towards her, she waves her arm in the air demanding them to stop. Even Chance appears dwafted by the size of the lorries. It is a sight I shall never forget. I lead a jiggling Tommy along the now open road feeling very small as the traffic begins to queue up in both directions. Thanking the drivers we turn off back into the quiet lanes, relieved to be safely across. I tell her how impressive she has just been and she says she is used to doing this for the hunt.
The unspoilt village of Pylle is a delight, and we head up the steep hill to Little Pennard, skirt around Pennard House and up into Hill Farm. Once Tommy and Chance are settled in their respective enclosures, I am treated to some Somerset delights. Somerset Cheddar, Steak and Ale Pie with roasted vegetables and a meringue pie with inches of cream topping. Go to bed thoroughly sated and sleep like a baby.
The following morning, Anne sends us on our way after a slap up breakfast. We won’t go hungry today. Anne is born and bred in Pennard, and has come full circle having lived in Gloucestershire for a while before returning. I’ve enjoyed hearing Anne’s adventures with horses and her hunting tales. I tell her she needs to write a book. The Glastonbury festival is held just over the other side of Pennard Hill and I wonder what a different place this must be for those few brief days. She almost has a ringside view.