CHEDDAR to BRIDGWATER: - 29 MILES
Somerset Levels, Polden Hills and Villages
Leaving the cross in a southerly direction by Church Street, you will come to a church on your right. Continue for a few yards and then go over Cheddar Bridge (take care on this very dangerous bend). Once over the bridge, turn left on to a lane which, after a short distance dwindles into a footpath. At the top, enter a field and go up, keeping close to the right hand boundary, until you come to a stile on the right. Go over and continue in the same direction with the boundary on the left on reaching a gate go into the next field bearing slightly left to a lane. Turn right go up the lane a short distance then bear left at Bradley Cross Farm. Take track on the right of the house marked Draycott ( you will now follow the West Mendip Way for approx one mile) continue up this track. Go through a gate and past a house on your right. At this point look back at Cheddar and its lake. This is a well defined bridle track. Soon it will take a left hand bend and continue up hill.
After approx half a mile of climbing mainly through oak and hawthorn you come to a farm on your right but continue roughly in the same direction. Once at the top go through a gate into a field you leave the main track here and head over this field heading slightly right to a gate. Once through the gate turn right for approx 100 yards then turn left up a track between hawthorn bushes. This is Draycott Sleights Nature Reserve carry on following a line of beech on the right. You eventually come to a lane cross over the stile opposite, bear right for a few yards the path then swings left, continue with the boundary on the right.
At the corner cut over the field to a stile into Rodney Stoke Nature Reserve. You the descend down a well defined track (extremely slippery when wet) and come out into a field. Head towards a house bearing slightly right . Go over a stile at the right of the house in the corner then continue down a small track to a lane, turn right to Rodney Stoke at the main road turn left. Take great care; this is an extremely busy road, which seems short of footpaths. Along here you will find plenty of places to buy strawberries in the summer - produce seems to be everywhere. Carry on another half mile through the village, up the hill until you reach a signpost to Priddy. Take this small road on the left where there is some relief from the traffic, Perhaps one day there will be a top ridge path, which avoids the main road.
Continue over a bridge and a disused railway line, then turn left through some farm buildings. A few hundred yards further on turn left again at a junction. After another few hundred yards, ignore the turning on the left and carry on until the lane runs out. You will come to some gates. Take the one straight ahead. Follow the track around to the right and take a gate further on. Keeping fairly close to the right hand boundary, cross the next field over to a footbridge in the corner. Once over the footbridge, go through a gap on your right, turn left and walk down by the hedge. Go over another footbridge and continue down the next field with the rhyne on your left. At the end of this field, pass through a gate near the corner, turn right and follow the rhyne down on your right for approximately 300 yards until you are close to a line of trees. Then take a diagonal path off to the left across the field to another, larger, footbridge. Once over, you will find yourself on a road. Turn left and continue, passing a farm on the right, until you come to a bridge on the left. Don't cross it - bear right, go up here approximately 50 yards and then, on a bend, go over stile on the right.
Walk up this field, keeping fairly close to the hedge on your left, and through another gate. Continue in roughly the same direction up the next field. Drop down the hill, where you will see a stile near the left-hand corner of the field. Go over stile into a track between two hedges and continue on down, and eventually take a right hand turn. Go on along here for a short distance, arriving at Ford Lane. Turn left and walk straight to the main road; this is the village of Henton. The Inn at Henton is now closed.
Turn left on the main road (take care). A short way down this road enter a field on the right, either by a stile or up a few steps a little further on. Walk to the top of the hill, heading for the far left-hand corner of the field. Go over a stile, then straight ahead for a short distance and cross the stile in the corner. Walk in the same direction, keeping the hedge on your left, go through a gate and come out on to a major track, and then turn right. A little way down you will come to a stile on your left prior to a sharp right hand turn go over this and make your way to the bottom of the field, keeping reasonably close to the left-hand boundary. Following on from previous instruction above. Make your way to the bottom of the field where you cross a lane over a pair of stiles. Continue up 2 fields keeping fairly close to the rhyne on your left. Then go over a stile near a stone bridge and come out on to a road. Turn right. At the next junction bear left for Godney. A short way down here, go over a footbridge on the left, crossing the rhyne into the field.
Turn immediately right, go through a gate and continue along the field keeping close to the rhyne, which is on your right. Carrying on up here, go through two more gates, and eventually pass under some power lines. A little further on there is a footbridge on the right. Cross over, and then bear left, keeping close to the hedge on your left. At the end of the field go through a gate and on to the road. Do not turn left - go straight ahead. You are now coming to the village of Godney.
Turn left over the bridge, which is signposted to Glastonbury, pass Godney House on the left and continue along the road to Godney Farm. There are not many connecting rights of way over the levels, so it's going to be a bit of a trudge along the droves. However, there is an abundance of wildlife, sedges and willows, so make the most of it.
At Godney Farm the road bears left. As you carry straight on, the various plant life according to the season is worth noting. In early summer it is lined with yellow iris, patches of marsh marigold, and later purple loosestrife. You will go through an avenue of pollarded willows.
To continue, bear right, along Market Place, take the Shepton Mallet road and go past the Abbey Gardens on the left. After a short while you will reach a roundabout. Turn right on the main road and go down here for about 400 yards. After the last house on the left there is a kissing gate; pass through it into the meadowland. Go diagonally right up Wearyall Hill, then walk along the ridge at the top. Look back; the Tor is quite impressive from here. Continue along this ridge, enjoying the distant views around you. As you descend, go over a stile. Street can be seen to the left, and the slopes of the Polden Hills, which you will be going along later. When you finally get to the end of this grassy ridge, pass through a stile in the left-hand corner, turn right on to the road and follow it down to the main road. Turn left, go across the River Brue up to the next major junction; at this point keep left and head for Street. A little further on there is another junction. Bear right here into High Street and the town centre.
Continue up here, passing Clarks' Shoe Museum on the right. Carry on through the shopping centre, past the Crispin Hall, Approx 150 yards further on you come to Vestry Road on the left take this continue past a park on the right, and straight over into Oriel Road. At the end of this road there is Hecks Farmhouse Cider, Fine Cider Makers since 1840. Go straight ahead into Ivythorne Road. After a quarter of a mile the road bends to the left; at this point bear right up a road called Middle Brooks. A few hundred yards up this road, turn off on the left into Gooselade. Go to the bottom of this short road, and turn right, and almost immediately left, and then over a stile into a field. Continue straight across the field to the far right hand corner, through a gap in the hedge then carry on up the footpath to the top of the next field, where you will go over a stile and into a lane. Turn right and walk down approx a hundred yards, then a track on the left will go straight up to the Youth Hostel. (If you are not staying at the hostel, continue on the lane a little further, then a bridleway on the left will go up a hill, then turn right on a footpath which connects with the route from the Hostel).
If you stopped, leave the hostel on the opposite side to where you came in and turn immediately right. The walk has now changed direction - whereas you were coming south to this point, you are now heading west. Continue along this path; walking on a small ridge known as the Polden Hills. Go to the very end; the path will eventually run out and meet the road. Cross the road (take care) and join another path, continuing in the same direction. Eventually this path reaches a gate.
Go through, and out into more open country. Up till now the views have been obstructed by growth. There is a viewpoint at the top of Walton Hill, which will give bearings to prominent landmarks. Continue in the same direction until you come to a converted windmill. Go past it on the right hand side and descend a slope, keeping close to the hedge on your left, then bear hard left around the mill, away from the road, and drop down to a stile in the right hand corner. This area of ground displays pyramidal orchids, thyme and rockrose in summer, with many species of butterfly amongst them. Go over the stile and drop down a few yards to a prominent track. Turn left, and continue descending between two hedges, coming to a minor road. Turn right and go uphill for approximately a quarter of a mile, then take a hard left hand turn on to a lane and drop down for a short distance. The lane will then swing right. Carry on and go over a stile at the side of a gate. On reaching the farm buildings, keep to the right of them and go over a stile into a field. Follow the left-hand boundary. A bit further on it will bend right. Continue uphill for a short way, then go over a well concealed stile on the left, into the trees. You will soon emerge into a meadow, another good wildflower habitat. Continue along the left hand boundary until you reach a gate on the left. Go through and carry on for a short distance, up a grassy track, then drop down to another farm. Wind your way through the buildings (possibly way marked) and you will find yourself on a well- formed track. Continue into a field. Keep the boundary on your right. At the end of the field go through a gate, under some power lines, to the gate opposite, back on a well defined track.
Further on, enter Redlands Farm. Pick your way through the buildings (possibly way marked) and find yourself in a lane going in the same direction. Soon the lane bears around to the right, with an orchard on the left. At the end of the orchard, go over a footbridge into a paddock, cross the paddock to the gate opposite and on to the road (take care). Turn left into the village of Pedwell, where there should be accommodation if required.
If you wish to carry on, go down the road about one hundred yards and then take a more minor road on the right called Pedwell Hill. Continue up here - the Methodist Church is on your left. 80 yards past the church, take the footpath on the left. Carry on, keeping to the right hand boundary, then pass through a gate into a field. Continue in a straight line, going over a stile near a dog-leg in the hedge, across a field and over a further stile, after which bear slightly to the left and through a gate on to a lane. Turn left, and after approximately 80 yards down the lane go over a stile on the right. This is fairly well concealed, so keep an eye open for it. Walk down this next field, keeping close to the hedge on the right, then go over a stile and footbridge and into the next field. Keep close to the left hand boundary and go through a gate, then bear left down to a neck in the field. Go over a stile in the corner, then down a track, and you will find yourself on the main road again. This is the village of Greinton. Turn right on the road, which soon bears left, marked Taunton. Ignore this, and take the minor road straight ahead marked to Moorlynch. After a short while go round a left hand bend, then at a junction bear right and continue down the lane for half a mile towards Moorlynch.
Once in Moorlynch, if required, you may find accommodation. There is an inn called the Ring of Bells. The road takes a right hand swing up the hill, but you go straight ahead along the lane. You can take a well worthwhile diversion by continuing around the right hand bend up the hill for a quarter of a mile to visit the church, which is on your left. There are good views from the churchyard. On leaving the church to the south side, in the far right hand corner there is a gate into the field. Go through, follow the field down, keeping close to the left hand boundary, then over a stile and you will find yourself back on the original lane. Turn right and continue.
A little way along, a track goes off to the left. Ignore this, and keep to the top one. You are starting to climb a little, which will get you off the low country and give a better view. On a clear day the Quantocks can be seen, which you will be making for once through Bridgwater. This is a pleasant track, and you can make good progress, but it can be muddy at times. Carry on for a while. You will come across a bit of an elbow in the path; after this, keep going in the same direction. At the end of this track, (about one and a half miles from Moorlynch) is the village of Sutton Mallet. The track will lead on to a road. Go straight ahead to the church. Turn right, then after a short distance turn left on to the road marked "Chedzoy". Continue up here for about a quarter of a mile until you come to a left hand bend in the road. The next bit is a little tricky. You can make a choice here. On the bend, go into the field on your right. Walk up a little way and go over a footbridge on the right (head diagonally left towards the end of the ridge on your right) At this point you may need a compass bearing, heading north-westerly about 300 degrees.
However, if you are a little unsure about this, continue on the road; this will eventually turn right and arrive at the same point. If you have taken a bearing, you will cross over another bridge. Continue on the same bearing; it will come to a rhyne. Go over the footbridge onto the road then turn right. After a few yards the road bends left. You will soon come to a signpost to Stawell. Ignore this and carry on for half a mile to the Kings Sedgmoor Drain.
Once you cross the bridge over the drain, follow the winding little road for approximately three quarters of a mile to the village of Chedzoy. Be careful of the blind corners. The church is on your right; it is well worth a visit; the pews are especially fine. There is also a pub in the village if you require refreshment.
At the church, the road takes a left hand swing. Continue for about half a mile out of Chedzoy towards Weston Zoyland, then the road will turn left. Ignore this and take the track ahead. Passing Fishers Farm, continue along this track in a straight line. Go through a gateway, and carry straight on, not diverting. Soon you will go under a set of power lines. The path now takes a sharp left hand bend. Just around the bend go over the footbridge on the right, then follow the boundary straight ahead. Go through a gap into the next field and follow the left hand boundary down in the same direction, passing under another set of power lines. At the end of this field, go through a gate on the left, then cross a footbridge to your right, and go straight ahead over the M5 footbridge.
Go over a small footbridge slightly to your right, into a field. Continue down the field, making for a stile in the left hand corner, on to a road. Turn left and make your way up to a major junction (on the A372, Westonzoyland road). Turn right and carry on along this road for approximately one mile. It will cross a railway line, then bend around to the right, meeting another road. You are very close to Bridgwater Railway Station, but don't catch the train home. There's a lot of beautiful country to come.