1. Along the Parrett Trail from the South
The Longer Walk from the Parrett Works
You go from the Parrett Works where on the day of the fair the businesses will be closed, and they are happy for people to use their car parks that day.
You get on to the Parrett Trail via a lovely stone stile just west of the Works, across the bridge. The stile is too narrow for overfed Labradors but a few yards on there is a bit of fence under which a dog might squeeze.
Keep the river loosely on your right. It eventually bears away over a weir and you follow the Gawbridge mill stream instead. Kingsbury Church is in sight up ahead, Martock Church is off to the right and Burrow Hill with its single tree is to your left.
A stream joins from the left, you go along this and over the foot bridge, then keep the water on your right all the way to Gawbridge Mill. Follow the road past the mill to the bridge. The Parrett Trail is this side of the river. Use it if you want to visit Kingsbury Episcopi (pub, church, lock-up, etc) but otherwise cross the bridge and take the path on the other side which takes you straight on to Thorney Mill avoiding the road section at Kingsbury. At Thorney Mill recross the river and walk north up the road to Thorney Lakes and the Green Scythe Fair.
This will take about two hours.
There was one field of friendly inquisitive cows on 2 April…
Shorter Walk from Kingsbury
Walking from Kingsbury presents a ticklish problem. I sense that parking here is preciously guarded. There is a car park behind the lovely Wyndham Arms, another by the church hall beside the church and a third on the recreation field, but each has its hazard, the pub will offer you beer, the church coffee (after it’s 9.30 service) and there might be Sunday football on on the Rec. However there is some space on the roads in the village so as long as not everybody walks from Kingsbury there shouldn’t be a problem.
To find the Parrett Trail leave Kingsbury northwards along Thorney Road, past the Rec, past some houses, until you come to Combe Lane on the right. It is not named but is easily recognisable: wide, unmade and in the wet puddles a Labrador would die for! Their size and depth may be a source of wonder but they are easily navigated.
Combe Lane crosses the Parrett. On the other side you join the path from Gawbridge. There is a gate into the field on the left, and the Trail runs alongside the river all the way to Thorney Mill. There you cross the river again to the sound of cascading water and return to the road. Turn right, go through the picturesque hamlet of Thorney, cross the bridge over the river and a second one over the disused railway and 100 yards ahead on the right is the entrance to Thorney Lakes, to the Green Scythe Fair, to company and refreshment.
This will have taken 40 minutes.
In days of yore the railway came to Thorney, and Taunton and Yeovil were just 20 minutes away. Getting to the Fair would have been so easy.
2. Along the Parrett Trail from the North
Longer Walk Via The Parrett Trail
There are at least two starting points in Langport. You can reach the Parrett Trail from the car parks at the Ridgeway Hall and the supermarket. They both have paths leading to the river. The Parrett Trail is on the other side so when you get to the river turn left and follow the path till you come to Huish Drove and the bridge that carries it over the river. Cross the bridge and look for Parrett Trail signs on your left.
(Remember to check car parking fees etc.)
The other way is from the Car Park at the western end of Huish Drove which is free. To find it go west along the A378, over the bridge, and take the first turning on the left past Shakespeare Glass and down to the car park at the end. Just beyond this is a footpath access. From here walk south to Huish Drove. Turn left and it leads you eastwards to the bridge over the Parrett. Do not cross. The River Yeo joins the Parrett just south of this bridge and if you cross you end up walking to Long Load and Yeovil! Instead, look around for Parrett Trail signs on your right just before the bridge.
Head off south with the river on your left, this is the main part of the walk. You cross Law Lane where the short walk (below) joins the trail and carry on along the river. Eventually the River Isle joins the Parrett and here there is a small detour. Take care, follow the Isle by mistake and you come to Ilminster, a lovely town but… The buildings at the confluence are Middleney Pumping Station, famous for its part during the floods.
Shortly after this you come to a road bridge and it is time to leave the Trail, come up onto the road, turn left and north - 100 yards or metres up on the right hand side is the entrance to Thorney Lakes and the Green Scythe Fair.
Shorter Way Via the Old Railway Line and the Parrett Trail
To find the railway line go west out of Langport along the A378, cross the bridge, and go left past Shakespeare Glass and down to the car park at the end. Just beyond this is a footpath access. Walk south to Huish Drove. Turn right and then left onto the old Yeovil to Taunton railway line. Eventually you come to a crossroads beyond which the line is impassable. Turn left here into Law Lane and find the bridge over the Parrett… just before the bridge look for signs on your right and join the Parrett Trail. From here follow the instructions for the longer walk two paragraphs above.
3. From Muchelney Ham and the East
There are all sorts of ways to get to Muchelney Ham and when you get there, there isn’t much parking but the walk along the road from Long Load should be easy if somewhat tedious. Once you are there though you take to the fields.
The road in from the south bends to the right at South Ham Farm and about 100 yards beyond, on the left, is the footpath with a sign to Thorney Lakes and it actually says Thorney Lakes on it! To your back on the other side of the road is a wonderful old farm house with a sympathetic addition built in 1979.
With this farmhouse to your back and the woodland you see in the distance in front, you proceed. The woods are your target, they are at Thorney Lakes. Enter the field here and walk straight ahead with the hedge on your right to the other side of the field. There is a gate, go through, keeping along the hedge, go round the right hand corner and then turn left along the hedge back towards the woods. I forget which side of this hedge I was, but follow the path whichever side. At the end of this field you need to duck left and look along the hedgeline and in the corner is a secret bridge over the Prior Brook and into the north east corner of Thorney Lakes (see photo).
Please note this is the back entrance to the lakes and to the fair, unmanned and unsupervised. You are half way. Another half mile will bring you to the fair.
For the longer walk follow the Parrett Trail all the way to Thorney.
For the shorter one follow the old railway direct to Muchelney and join the trail there for the last bit.