Mists in Time on the Levels - a sensational Somerset walk
PUBLISHED: 09:46 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 10:46 09 October 2012
On misty and frosty days, the Levels offer sensational walking, with glass pools on flooded fields, rising mists, chattering birds and ancient church towers. Words and photos by Alison Howell, a Bath-based rural walking holiday specialist
On misty and frosty days, the Levels offer sensational walking, with glass pools on flooded fields, rising mists, chattering birds and ancient church towers rising like beacons. Words and photos by Alison Howell, a Bath-based rural walking holiday specialist
Distance: 612 miles (10.5 km) Time: 3 hours Exertion: Easy
POINTS OF INTEREST
12th-century Muchelney Abbey
and Tudor house (English Heritage)
Wonderful Jacobean ceiling in Muchelney Church
14th-century Muchelney Priests House (National Trust)
Views over the levels
Migrating birds and wildlife, especially deer, egrets, kingfishers
Thorney Mill (private) and the
Farm Shop in Muchelney village
BOOTS ON? LET'S GO!
1 With your back to the church gates, turn left along the road. The church largely dates from the 15th century, pop inside to see the cheeky cherubs! After 80 yards turn left on to the path to the Abbey entrance. Enter the small gate into the field, keep straight, pass end of barn, then straight over the field to a gate on opposite side. To your left are the ruins of Muchelney Abbey; the first religious building was thought to have been established by the 7th century but most of the ruined buildings were built from the 12th century.
2 Exit to the road and turn right. Take first road on the left. Keep straight on until it ends at a T-junction, turn right along the road and follow for mile to Muchelney Ham. This small hamlet has some lovely 17th-century farmhouses. Pass round double bend and on for another mile, just before the little bridge, turn right through the gate. Keep straight to gate opposite. Enter, bear left and take the second gate on left joining the path. Follow the path for mile, join the track, keep straight on for mile to the disused railway. Cross over and continue for mile, where the track joins another, turn right and follow to the bridge (River Parrett).
3 Immediately before the bridge turn right over a stile into the field. Follow the bank of the river for mile to the mill (Thorney Silent Mill). A mill has been here for more than 1,000 years, the current building was built in 1823, falling silent in 1966. Turn left at the mill, cross the weir, pass the front of the mill and follow out to the road. Turn right onto the road, pass round the double bend and follow to the road bridge over the river (River Parrett). Turn left just before the bridge, joining a footpath.
4 Follow the path along the river. Continue for mile to the pumping station. Since Roman times management of the Levels and the river has been constant. This station sits at the confluence of the River Isle and River Parrett. At the pumping station, turn left over the little bridge, pass the front of the building and join the track. Follow the track over two bridges (River Isle), turn right, doubling back. Follow to the gate, enter and rejoin the river. Follow the river for 1 mile until you reach the road. Turn right on the road and follow it back into Muchelney. Around the church are many other historic buildings, including a 14th-century priests house.
Start: Muchelney parish church (grid reference ST428249)
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 129
Terrain: Level walk on paths, tracks and lanes; some field paths, one stile
Child/dog friendly: Just one stile. Livestock likely along the way, dogs must be on a lead
Refreshments: None along the way, but the Wyndham Arms at Kingsbury Episcopi is worth a visit afterwards make sure you try the local cider brandy!
Public transport: For bus information, contact the Tourist Information Centre in Langport: 01458 253527