Goblin Combe is a steep sided dry valley west of Bristol with rock cliffs hanging over old yew trees and mossy rocks and ferns. in this cold weather the valley bottom traps the freezing air and the upper woods make a better place to start our walk.

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even here in the milder south west there are still snow patches hanging about. sunshine streams through the trees and the sky is wedgwood blue.

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this wood is a patchwork of plantation and self-seeded, full of tracks and old dry stone walls

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honeysuckle twines itself like a jungle vine around older trees. it already has the new season’s leaves unfurling, little specks of green suspended amongst the grey browns of tree trunk and branch.

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shadows of hedgerow trees make a lacy pattern on the snow dusted fields reminiscent of a John Nash painting

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along the edge of the limestone ridge we scramble over exposed rock and then down a steep pasture, out of the sunshine. the path becomes treacherous with melted and then frozen snow.

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we slip and slide down to the bottom, amongst snow-dusted mosses and ferns

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in some places hazels sprout out of the slope, accompanied by harts-tongue ferns, gelid with frost.

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another climate down here, sunless, damp and freezing. the air seems solid with frozen moisture.

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yew trees arch over the path in this narrow neck of the gorge, making it even darker.

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there are deciduous trees here too, their warty bulbous trunks covered with moss

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and their branches reaching up for the light above the combe

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beech trees cling to the steep sides, or hang on to the rocky cliffs

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their canopies making patterns at the same time delicate and muscular.

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and back at the car park, a garden tree is infested with great mops of parasitic mistletoe, decorative in its own way.

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