Monday 21 December 2015 – Mells, Somerset.
The final stop on my drive from Falmouth in Cornwall back to NE London. I took quite a few photos in three different locations on my way back so have decided to make it a three post day.
My final destination for the day – before home of course, was Fussells Iron Works near the village of Mells in Somerset. Like Burrow Mump earlier in the day the iron works were a find from my recently purchased Wild Ruins book.
After finding Mells OK and ending up on the right road out of town I missed the entrance to the valley as it was temporarily blocked by a rubbish lorry. After a mile or so of driving up the narrow country road, I decided I had gone too far and turned round and pulled up outside what I hoped was the right gate.
The sign did not mention anything about a ruined iron works, but it was sort of in the right place so I headed off up the path anyway. If it was wrong, then at least it was a decent walk – and by now the rain had actually stopped, and being in a valley meant there was no wind either. I should have taken the tripod. And another couple of hours…
After a couple of hundred yards of walking up the path, I came across an old sluice gate and some ruined walls and knew I was in the right spot. I didn’t know too much about the valley and the iron works, I had seen a few photos on the internet, but that was about it.
The town of Mells and its surrounding area have been known for iron work since the 14th century, and the workings in this particular site started in the 1500s. The present day remains are from a large foundry site started by the Fussell family in 1744.
James Fussell leased the land from John Horner, who is rumoured to be a descendent of one Little Jack Horner. Little Jack was given the responsibility of taking pies from a nearby abbey to London, hidden inside one of the pies was the deed to a piece of land – now the site of the iron works. He nicked it…
The works lasted for well over 100 years, making farm tools that were used across the UK and exported to the USA. A failure to convert the water powered works to steam in the late 1800s led to the eventual failure of the business and it was closed in 1900. It has languished as a ruin ever since. Yay
The walk up the valley was amazing. It is a wonderful place to explore, especially in winter when the trees are free of leaves and the weak sun can shine through on the moss covered trees and old stone work.
There was even a mystery waterfall with the water pouring out from under the rocks, seemingly coming from nowhere at all.
There was a long section of wall, maybe holding back the valley bank from what must have been a long building along the bank of the river.
I really liked the trees growing out of the stones, they remind me of the some of the ancient Angkor sites I went to, and loved, in Cambodia.
Though I was getting a bit pushed for time I carried on heading along the path and soon found the main part of the ruin. It was looking very cool, though there was security fencing at the entrance to the building.
I walked along the outside edge of the wall for a bit, until I found a bit of fencing that was loose so I stuck my head inside and took a photo of the moss covered wall – slightly blown out by the weird problem affecting my camera.
There was no one around, so I thought ‘sod it’ and carried on through the gap in the fence and down into the ruins themselves. Everything was damp and dripping, the ground was mushy under the rotten fallen leaves, and the tree tops up the valley sides were whistling and creaking in the wind. Fabulously gloomy and ruiny.
Walking back towards the entrance I made my way to the largest of the old ruins.
There is obviously some work going on here to stabilise walls, there was a sign warning people to keep out as stone had been coming down from the walls. I poked my head inside the rooms for a look, but did not hang around there for long before deciding to head back up the path to the car and continue my journey homeward – I still had a long way to go !
Naturally when I returned to the car the skies finally cleared leaving a fairly cloudless and slowly darkening sky. I am looking forward to coming back to explore this place again, maybe take a day out on the way somewhere and arrive when there is some decent light left – and carry the tripod up the valley.
I had seen some quite cool things so far today, but this really was the highlight of the day. It was a shame it was mid afternoon and the light was dropping fast, and it was a shame my camera was just not handling the big contrasts in light very well. I am going to have to come back and allow myself a lot more time.
The rest of the drive back home was pretty tedious, it is a long long drive, though I did pass by Stonehenge which was cool as I have never seen it in real life before. I was sort of faintly hoping for a wicked sunset, but to cap the weekend off it all clouded over again and started to drizzle as dusk arrived, my least favourite driving conditions. Actually, to really cap it off I think I got speed camera’d on the M25 , which is fairly ironic as I said a couple of posts ago that there is little fear of getting pinged for speeding on the motorways. I will wait and see if anything unpleasant arrives in the mail.
It had been a great weekend away, I really enjoyed all the things I visited and saw, I had some very nice food and sort of enjoyed the time away on my own.