When I lived in Taunton my default location for a long walk was the Quantock Hills, on rare occasions I headed to the Brendon Hills and sometimes if pressed for time I would head on to the Blackdown Hills, which were the closest to where we lived.
I am not sure why I didn’t spend more times on the Blackdowns, because every time I went I enjoyed the walking. It is not as rugged as parts of the Quantocks, but there are some challenging ascents and the views on a good day are stunning. When planning this current trip in the caravan I was looking for new walks or areas we had not previously visited and spotted Neroche Castle on the map. I have not been there since 1993 so it seemed a good time to revisit.
The starting point for our walk is the car park at Staple Hill (Grid Reference ST246159). Boots laced up we leave the car park by walking north easterly into the plantation along a footpath which runs parallel to another path for the first 100 yards. At a junction we continue straight on and are soon heading downhill on the track with a steep drop away to our left.
At the foot of the hill we turn right and join the East Deane Way, soon passing a stream before reaching a gate to Mount Fancy Nature Reserve a sixty-six acre reserve leased from Wessex Water authority by the Butterfly Conservation Trust. The section we are now entering is the Mount Fancy Source an area of natural springs that provide domestic water.
We follow the clearly marked route through gates and fields of pasture.
It is a cracking day with a clear blue sky and tucked out of the cold wind it is pleasant walking. After passing through a gate at Britty, which appears to be a collection of ruined buildings, we join a track running through an area of wetland, this soon rises to enter the plantation of Britty Common.
At a junction of paths we stay on the main track, still on the East Deane Way we are now walking through the plantation of Staple Common continuing on to reach a minor road. We cross and go through a gate on the opposite side to reach another plantation, this one is in the process of being cleared so there are warning signs about forestry work and an apology stating the site will soon be restored. The benefit of the tree clearing is that it has opened up extensive views across the Vale of Taunton Deane with the Quantock Hills in the distance.
The East Deane Way is leading us below the hillfort of Castle Neroche and then at a junction of paths the route turns right and heads uphill towards the castle.
Castle Neroche was originally an Iron Age fort and later in the 11thcentury was developed into a castle with a motte and bailey. It is a cracking spot and on this sunny afternoon children are enjoying playing around the site.
We continue along the East Deane Way above a steep escarpment through attractive beech trees.
The path then heads steeply downhill, initially on a waterlogged track and then via steps before continuing steadily downhill through Castle Plantation.
At a junction of paths we stay on the East Deane Way initially heading in a northerly direction with trees to our left and fields close by on the right.
At a junction of paths we turn left along a drove, leaving the East Deane Way, to head towards Curland. The track is well used by horses so is muddy in parts but we pick our way through to reach a minor road.
Continuing straight on we reach Curland where we turn left and continue on the road heading out of the village.
We stay on this road towards Crossways Farms, on reaching a crossroads we head straight over. After crossing a stream we take a footpath on the right and head up the edge of a field.
At Parsonage Lane we turn right and then almost immediately left to follow a footpath across fields, on the way crossing a stream via a wooden bridge.
We cross a minor road and then an arable field and a stream between fields and then after walking around the edge of the next field we cross a further stream. This one has some interesting stonework which I assume was to dam the water flow for some purpose, possibly sheep dipping.
Turning left on the farm drive we head towards Staple Park Farm, we are familiar with this section of the walk because it formed part of a regular route we used to walk with the dogs when we lived in Taunton. After passing the farm the route continues on to meet the East Deane Way, we carry on heading west towards Staple Lawns Farm. The footpath skirts the farm to enter Oakey Copse where we turn left and follow the broad track as it continues steadily uphill into Staple Park Wood.
The track sweeps to the left and continues onto reach a gateway leading on to Underhill Lane. We turn right and head uphill soon passing a bench that invites us to “Rest Awhile”.
On a bend the East Deane Way follows a footpath on the left, but we stay on the main track continuing uphill. Passing through a gate into Staple Hill the incline becomes steeper as the wide track continues straight on.
At the top of the hill we ignore a finger post pointing to the car park and continue straight on for a couple of hundred yards before diverting into the trees on the left to reach the OS trig point on Staple Hill. This is my 121sttrig point bagged.
From the trig point we return to the track and turn right to walk back to the finger post where we turn right through the trees towards the car park.
Our walk has covered close to nine miles, it has been a lovely afternoon to be out and we have seen about a dozen people, so much quieter than the Quantock Hills yesterday!
To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer 128 – Taunton & Blackdown Hills
2nd January 2019
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2019)