Chew Valley Lake walks: Lakes in the Landscape

PUBLISHED: 15:23 17 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:32 17 October 2016

A glimpse of Chew Valley Lake, opened in 1956 to supply water to Bristol. It wasn't full to capacity until 1958

A glimpse of Chew Valley Lake, opened in 1956 to supply water to Bristol. It wasn't full to capacity until 1958


Enjoy some of North Somerset’s enormous views and discover where Simone Stanbrook-Byrne followed in the footsteps of an old king

St Bartholomew's has its roots in the 13th century and is Grade 1 listedSt Bartholomew's has its roots in the 13th century and is Grade 1 listed

Views can be thirst-quenching, particularly so when they take in the vast expanse of a reservoir. This walk enjoys a fabulous panorama over two huge lakes, constructed to supply water to Bristol. The Chew Valley Lake was opened in 1956 and is the fifth largest artificial lake in the UK. Exploration of the valley prior to its flooding revealed occupation since the Stone Age, and many more recent homesteads disappeared to make way for the water. Blagdon Lake is an older reservoir, dating from the early years of the 20th century and created by damming the River Yeo, which rises in Compton Martin. Although the walk doesn’t go to the reservoirs it offers superb viewpoints towards both and follows in the footsteps of an old king.


1. Walk down Yew Tree Lane, away from the main road. At the entrance to Court Farm on the left, keep straight ahead along the by-way. Soon the track becomes unsurfaced and shady with trees. Marked as Villice Lane on the map, this is the Monarch’s Way, the route taken by Charles II in 1651 when escaping from the Battle of Worcester towards the south coast.

In just under 1km the track crosses the young River Yeo – stone walls quite far apart on either side mark the bridge. In another 500m the lane is reached. Cross over diagonally left to the gap in the hedge then go through the metal kissing gate. Badges here show that as well as The Monarch’s Way this is also the route of The Samaritans’ Way South West, a 100 mile footpath, guides to which are sold in aid of The Samaritans. From the gate walk through the field, hedge on your right. At the end pass into the next field and head obliquely left as shown by the arrows on the stile, towards a kissing gate in the far hedge.

2.At the kissing gate pass through and continue diagonally right up the next field, climbing steadily to a gate in the top hedge. Go through another kissing gate and continue up the next field towards the top boundary. At the top The Monarch’s Way goes on without you. Stay in this field and turn left, keeping the top hedge on your right. Follow the hedge into the corner, pausing to glance behind at the magnificent panorama towards Chew Valley Lake.

In the corner pass through a metal gate, beyond which turn left, walking up through a rather scrubby area and, in a few metres, crossing a track that goes to Ubley Park House. Continue beyond the track, following the line of the wall on your left, to reach a footpath gate at the wall corner. Go left through here, head downhill (house to your left) and within 10m of the gate bear right to pass through a recently-planted boundary beneath small trees. Beyond here continue diagonally down the field, away from the house, with views over Blagdon Lake to the right. You are aiming for a gate in the bottom boundary of this field situated about 50m to the left of the bottom right-hand corner. (There were no arrows at the time of writing – the council has been contacted).

The well-cared-for village of Ubley was recorded in the Domesday Book as Tumbeli, probably meaning 'rolling meadow'The well-cared-for village of Ubley was recorded in the Domesday Book as Tumbeli, probably meaning 'rolling meadow'

3.From the gate continue in the same direction down the next field, lake still to the right and clusters of houses in the village of Ubley below in the valley. You’re walking towards a beautiful view as you head down to the bottom right-hand corner of the field.

In the corner cross a double stile then turn left, following the left field boundary downhill. When we were here this area was alive with darting damselflies and myriad butterflies, including the striking marbled white. At the bottom of the field continue ahead through the next, still beside the left boundary. At the end of this field pass through the boundary into a third field and continue on the track beside the left hedge for just under 200m.

4. At this point, before the end of the field, bear obliquely right across the corner (crops permitting) to find a metal gate with a yellow arrow. Go through the gate, crossing the stream beneath trees, then through another gate to emerge into a field. Walk through here beside the left hedge to a gateway in the corner. Pass through two gates in quick succession then continue beside the left boundary to reach a kissing gate beside Snatch Farmhouse.

Cross the road, heading diagonally left to the road junction. Here the lane heads to Ubley, but there is a footpath to the right to avoid walking along the road. Take this path, going through a kissing gate then walking beside the left hedge, parallel to the lane. At the end of the field a gate leads into the next, and at the end of this a stile and steps bring you down to the lane. Turn right to reach picturesque Ubley in 250m. This lovely village was recorded in the Domesday Book as Tumbeli. It’s a beautifully-kept village; its old red phone box converted to a mini bookshop, although in recent months this has, sadly, been the victim of arson.

5. With the church and war memorial in front of you, bear left along the road (The Street) towards Compton Martin and Bath. In about 200m the road goes sharp right and here you keep ahead on a no-through road, Tuckers Lane. This passes houses and a footpath on the right that you ignore. Keep ahead, the track becomes rough underfoot and narrows between hedges rich with meadowsweet in summer.

Compton Martin mapCompton Martin map

6. When the track reaches a metal gate pass through into the field and keep ahead beside the left boundary to another metal gate ahead, crossing a small stream just before you get there. On the gate is a yellow arrow but several hedges shown on the map are no longer in existence so the arrow may be misleading. The simplest option is to go through the gate and turn right, following the line of the right-hand boundary as it meanders round the field. Up to your left is a view of Ubley Park House from earlier in the walk. Follow the right hedge for just over 400m; the extensive roofs of Court Farm appear away to the right, beyond the hedge. Keep your eyes open for a metal footpath gate in the right-hand boundary about 100m before the end of the field and go through this, across the plank bridge and through another gate into the field beyond.

From here walk across the field, bearing very slightly left towards the far boundary, keeping to the left of a line of telegraph poles and, aiming for the left-hand end of the houses ahead. Go through the metal kissing gate when you get to the boundary, then straight across the small field beyond; there are houses ahead to the right and farm buildings ahead to the left. Before you reach the boundary cross a track and continue towards double metal gates set in a recess. Just before you reach these gates you find a footpath gate on the left.

Go through this, walking through a small paddock, full of attractive specimen trees. At the end go through the metal gate and bear right across the concrete yard of Court Farm towards a modern house. Pass through the gate attached to the house and follow the track beyond to the road through Compton Martin. Turn left along the pavement, to arrive back at Yew Tree Lane in less than 150m. The Ring of Bells awaits.

Need to know:

Map: OS Explorer 141 Cheddar Gorge & Mendip Hills West 1:25,000.

Directions to start: Compton Martin is on the A368, about 11 miles south of Bristol.

Start point: Yew Tree Lane, off Compton Martin’s main street (A368). Grid ref: ST541572. Nearby postcode: BS40 6JS.

Distance: 4 miles (6.4km).

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