A walk around Bishopswood (starting and ending at the Candlelight Inn)
PUBLISHED: 10:23 26 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:23 26 February 2019
Simone Stanbrook-Byrne finds glorious views and wildlife reserves - and even spots signs of an elephant - in a walk around Bishopswood
One of the appeals of winter walking is to know that after freezing out in the elements you’ve earned a bit of cosseting.
This walk is ideally placed for just that as the 17th century Candlelight Inn, at which it starts and finishes, offers enormous appeal, open fires in winter and really good food and hospitality.
The walk passes through an attractive Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve and farmland, with lovely views from many points along the way – remember to look behind occasionally, the views there can be good too.
We were accompanied by the sound of wedding bells from a nearby church and, unusually, the strum of banjos from somewhere hidden.
1. Where you leave the road to drive into the Candlelight Inn a fingerpost indicates a footpath to Moorseek and South Hill Farms. Take this path along the side of the inn, into its rear car park and straight across the grass to a footbridge spanning the River Yarty. Cross the stile beyond and go straight across the next field to a gateway about 50m away. After this, walk diagonally right up the field to the corner, passing a red-roofed house over to the right. In the corner cross a yellow-arrowed stile then keep straight along a broad and gently climbing track beneath trees.
2. Within 100m the track reaches a gate. Leave the track and cross the stile on the left into a field. Walk through the field following the right-hand boundary with woodland beyond it. As the woodland bends right, keep straight ahead in the same direction to an obvious gate.
When you reach it a little badge welcomes you to the Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve. Go through, duck under the trees of the hedgerow then continue through the next field following the left-hand hedge.
In the top corner pass through a gate then bear right downhill – lovely views across to Buckland St Mary Church. As you descend, an arrowed post in about 100m directs down steps. At the bottom keep ahead through a good wildlife area, this line reaches a yellow-arrowed gate tucked into the hedge.
Cross the plank bridge after the gate then head uphill in the direction of the arrow on the gate, passing through trees on the well-trodden path to reach another arrowed gate. Go through then head diagonally left to a visible gate in the fence, approaching the buildings of Cross Hill Farm.
3. Go through the gate onto a farm drive (to South Hill Farm), noting the appealing homemade footpath sign on the far side of the gate. Turn right on the track then swing left in front of Cross Hill Farm and follow the lane for about 100m, where a fingerpost on the left directs you right into a field, heading for Blindmoor Farm.
Enter the large field, initially following the right-hand boundary. When this turns away continue in the same line, walking diagonally left across the field towards the right-hand end of a stand of trees. When you reach the trees look for the arrowed stile tucked beneath them. Cross the stile followed by a small stream then ascend a slope into the field.
Walk straight ahead across this field to a yellow-arrowed stile in the opposite boundary; the buildings of Colley Farm are over to the left.
4. The next bit requires concentration. After the stile head across the field aiming a mere ‘gnat’s crotchet’ to the right of straight head, towards the many trees of the opposite boundary. This line takes you just to the right of a smallish single oak tree. When you reach the boundary you find a stile tucked low down under the trees beyond a small stream, but it can be astonishingly well-concealed and even though we knew where it was it took us quite a while to find it! (I have asked the council to install some extra signage.)
Beyond here walk up through the next small field, following the left boundary, and at the end leave along a trodden path beneath trees, heading towards a footbridge. Watch your step as you cross it.
5. Cross the stile beyond the bridge into a field, then walk ahead up the field, passing a thicket of hawthorn (that looks like a hedge) to your right, to find a yellow-arrowed gap in the hedge up beyond it. After the gap walk through the field bearing slightly right; there is a scrubby boundary to your right and as this bends right continue ahead to the top of the field where you find an arrowed metal gate – don’t go through.
Stay in the field and turn left, walking beside the top boundary, hedge on your right. Go through a gate at the far side and turn left, now following the left-hand hedge. At the bottom cross the stile, entering beneath trees. Descend the path beyond, crossing a small stream and a stile. A yellow arrow points along a well-trodden path, winding beneath trees and then going uphill to an arrowed stile. Follow its direction across the middle of the next field to a gateway.
6. From the gate follow the broad track between hedges approaching Lower Colley Farm. Keep ahead passing the front of the house; stabling and other buildings to the left. Pass though another gate then follow the track towards Colley Farm.
Enter its farmyard through a metal gate then continue, bearing left between the farm buildings along the obvious track through Colley Farm, passing a house on your left. Follow the surfaced drive leading away from the farm.
7. At the lane cross over and continue ahead along another surfaced farm track leading to Moorseek Farm and Moorseek Cottage. Beyond these keep straight ahead on the track until it emerges into a field within 100m. Just before you enter the field there are two metal gates on the left – one new and one that has been sat on by an elephant. Go through/over these to join a broad track.
Within 100m this track opens into a huge field with glorious views. Walk through the field following the left boundary.
8. In 500m, before the end of the field, look for the wooden gate in the hedge on the left. Pass through, entering the narrow end of another field, and walk along the left-hand boundary, heading towards the red-roofed house that we saw at the beginning of the walk.
At the end of the field cross the stile into the corner of the next field. Walk through the field, just in from the right-hand boundary and aiming for a telegraph pole. When you reach this pass through the gateway – you have been here before. Cross the small field back towards the footbridge over the Yarty. The Candlelight Inn awaits.
• Directions to start and parking: Bishopswood is in the south of the county, close to the county boundary, and is accessed off the A303, north west of Chard. The Candlelight Inn is happy for walkers who are taking refreshment with them to use their rear car park. Postcode TA20 3RS Grid ref: ST259127
• Map: OS Explorer 128 Taunton & Blackdown Hills 1:25 000
• Terrain: Field paths and tracks – potentially muddy after wet weather
• Distance: 3 miles / 6km
• Dog friendly: Yes, but animals may be grazing and there are lots of stiles and some tricky gates. The Candlelight Inn welcomes dogs in the bar and garden
• Exertion: Mostly easy with some moderate ascents
• Refreshments: The wonderfully welcoming Candlelight Inn, Bishopswood, TA20 3RS (01460 234476). Here you will find open fires/woodburners in winter and appealing gardens for fine weather.
• Look out for: Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve; picturesque views
Simone Stanbrook-Byrne & James Clancy are authors of ‘A Dozen Dramatic Walks in Somerset’.