Winter walks in Somerset: 7 of the best
PUBLISHED: 10:13 12 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:13 12 December 2016
A bracing winter walk is the perfect way to blow away the cobwebs, and where better to embrace the crisp, chilly air than through the varied, and beautiful, landscape that Somerset has to offer
1. Cheddar Gorge
One of England’s most iconic, dramatic landscapes spanning three miles and at almost 400 foot deep, Cheddar Gorge has plenty to offer those who fancy a walk. Wonderful to explore all year round, as winter hits the Gorge and the village below it is bracing to ramble all over and soak in those views from the top. Make sure to keep an eye out for the bounty of wildlife the Gorge boasts: spot free-roaming goats, Soay sheep or maybe even the endangered greater and lesser horseshoe bats, and plenty of birdlife. Refuel at the Lion Rock Tearooms for a hot chocolate in delightful, vintage surroundings or The Bath Arms for delicious fare for the truly peckish.
Standing proudly a short while from Wellington, Wellington Monument is a spectacular structure which pays tribute to the ‘Iron Duke’ and his victory at the Battle of Waterloo. As well as visiting the iconic landmark, a walk around the surrounding meadow is perfect to blow away those cobwebs and soak in breathtaking views across the Vale of Taunton from the top of the Blackdown Hills. Refuel at The Blackbird Inn, a well-known landmark on the way to Taunton from Wellington, with a tasty homemade dish.
A woodland walk is made even more dramatic when the leaves have finally fallen from the trees and are left bare. The impressive ancient wood pasture of Horner Woods, a 2000 acre woodland in the Holnicote Estate, is a delight for walkers to explore. Spot plenty of ancient oak pollards, a beautiful oak tree over 500 years old named the General and an abundance of wildlife, including red deer and Exmoor ponies, which call the woodland their home. Refuel at The Holnicote Estate is also home to villages, featuring picture-perfect cottages and buildings steeped in history. We recommend indulging in a cream tea at Kitnors Tea-room in the charming village of Bossington. Yum!
For breathtaking views, gear up for the steady climb from the pretty village of Selworthy, think cute as a button cottages and quaint winding streets up to the ancient monument of Bury Castle. Soak in amazing views of the rolling landscape glittering with frost.
5. Bath skyline
A ramble along the Bath skyline, a favourite walk of ours, has previously featured in our autumn walks. The six mile route is a varied one: expect hidden valleys, historic monuments, woodlands and meadows, all abundant with a variety of wildlife. Reward yourself with the jaw dropping viewpoint of Bath below you as you trek along the countryside. Refuel at The American Museum at Claverton Down and enjoy a free cookie and coffee with your admission fee when you present your printed Skyline map. If you have the chance, immerse yourself in the history of America with an eclectic collection boasting the diverse traditions of the continent.
6. Brean Down
Somerset is home to some of England’s prettiest, and most dramatic, coastlines along the South West Coast Path. Wrap up warm, pack a flask of tea, and head to Brean Down for a wonderful winter walk. A staggering peninsula reaching a height of nearly 100 metres, the ledges of the Brean Down cliff give plenty of opportunities for fantastic views across the Bristol Channel, to the Mendips, Somerset Levels, Quantocks and South Wales. After soaking in the sights, descend down to the beach to breathe in the ocean air and enjoy the sounds of the waves lapping the beach.
7. Dolebury Warren
Sitting on the northern edge of the Mendip Hills, and near to the small Somerset village of Churchill, Dolebury Warren is a delight to explore, particularly in the winter. At over 3000 years old, the Iron Hill fort is surrounded by thick forest, exudes history and is a haven for all kinds of wildlife. Escape the stresses of ordinary life as you walk up to the top and enjoy mesmerising views of Somerset in its wintery glory.
Want more winter walks in Somerset? Take a look at these three exploring the Somerset countryside…
Pick up our December 2016 issue of Somerset Life for winter walks recommended by the Somerset Wildlife Trust (page 87).