Exploring Combes on the Quantock Hills

Today we are returning to a familiar spot to walk on the Quantock Hills.  The forecast is for a bright but chilly day. Ideal to enjoy one of my favourite parts of the Country.  The starting point for our walk is a parking area just off of the Crowcombe Road to the east of Wilmot’s Pool.

Leaving the parking area we head north west on a grassy track that joins a stony track heading west skirting the summit of Black Hill.

After yesterday’s rain the sunshine is a welcome relief and there is great visibility into Frog Combe with Dowsborough Hillfort standing prominently behind.

We stay with the track until we reach Halsway Post where we stop to take in the view of the Brendon Hills to the west.

At the junction of tracks we follow the route heading north west towards Lowsey Thorn at the head of Slaughterhouse Combe soon spotting a herd of deer camouflaged in the dead bracken.

We stay with the track to Bicknoller Post, from here there is a network of paths we head north and then at a fork in the track go left to reach the summit of Beacon Hill.  On the summit there is an Ordnance Survey trig pillar that we have visited many times.  One memorable day in 2014 it was so windy here that we could hardly stand up. 

Today there is a gentle breeze and the views towards Minehead are stunning.

From the trig pillar we continue north and then head north east down a path into Herridge Combe.  Despite having walked extensively on the Quantocks I cannot recall previously walking down this small combe.  It is a cracker.

At the junction of Herridge Combe and Gay’s House Combe we cross the stream and continue north along the attractive Smith’s Combe.

At a junction with the Coleridge Way we turn right and head west.  This is a section of the 50-mile trail between Nether Stowey on the east side of the Quantocks and Lynmouth and links places associated with Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We follow the Coleridge Way until just after Dens Combe, here we fork right to head up hill on the eastern side of the Combe.

At a junction of tracks we turn and head back downhill and to rejoin the Coleridge Way which soon passes cottages.  Our route heads steadily downhill to pass Alfoxton House which appears in need of repair.

The route is now a tarmac driveway and we follow this through the edge of Alfoxton Wood to reach the old Dog Pound on the edge of Holford. This is where the local stray dogs used to be housed.

Apparently local hunting dogs were kept on the Alfoxton Estate, cared for by the huntsman.  The meat for the hounds was hung in trees attracting local stray dogs who unsettled the hounds. One night the huntsman was woken by the sound of dogs and went to investigate, unfortunately he did not put on his normal hunting garments and as a result was attacked and killed by his own dogs. To prevent strays causing a repeat occurrence the dog pound was built.  

After passing the Bowling Green we turn right up a track heading towards Hodder’s Combe.  Over the years I have walked this Combe hundreds of times, but I am still struck by its beauty.

At the top of the Combe we fork left into Somerton Combe and then very quickly take a steep path heading up through the trees.  As we near the top of the ascent Lynnie suddenly realises she has dropped one of her expensive Sealskin walking gloves.  So, I head back down in search of it.  I walk back to Hodder’s Combe but find no trace of the missing item and trudge back up the hill.

Rejoining Lynnie we continue to a crossing of paths on Lower Hare Knapp and turn right to head uphill to the cairn on Higher Hare Knapp.

From the cairn we take a path heading south on the ridge between Street Combe and Frog Combe, the light is now beginning to fade so we maintain a steady pace.

At a junction of paths we turn left and rejoin the track heading back to the car park.  As we get back to the car the moon has risen over Bridgewater Bay.

Our walk has covered nine miles and has taken us to parts of the Quantocks we have not previously visited.  We have already decided that tomorrow we will return to the hills to see if we can find Lynnie’s missing glove!

To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL140 – Quantock Hills & Bridgewater.

You can view this 9 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here (Subscription to OS Maps Required)

10th January 2020

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2020)

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