Chew Valley Lake Permit

This has gone up to £16 for the year but is still fantastic value. I used it a dozen times in 2010 so that’s only just over a quid a visit. It gets you into the hides and areas that the general public don’t go, and – I double-checked – covers the £2.50 car-parking charges during the summer. It also allows access round Blagdon and Barrow Gurney.

Although not yesterday. I don’t think I’ve tried the southern shore drive at Blagdon during the week and found the gates locked at the eastern end. They may be open weekends only.

I did get an hour at Stratford Bay, where black-headed and common gulls outnumbered coots, tufted ducks and pochards. The flocks hid a dozen goldeneyes and four ruddy ducks still survive (shh!)

Having failed at Blagdon, I had it in mind that dippers would be at Chew Magna. Wrong. They’re further downstream at Pensford, Publow and Compton Dando. That’s even deeper into BANES territory so there’s not much chance of adding the species to North Somerset. (It does all still count as Avon though!)

Light was fading and I thought about dinner at Woodford Lodge, where I’d bought the permit. Some other time though, not when I’m still reeling from a £1000 car repair bill.

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