Dolebury Warren

A fine hillfort then a pretty streamside walk along a wooded valley, with attractive villages along the way.

Technical sheet
No. 18114337
A Winscombe and Sandford walk posted on 30/12/21 by Walks from the Door. Update : 30/12/21
Calculated time Calculated time: 4h10[?]
Distance Distance : 12.15km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 251m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 243m
Highest point Highest point : 205m
Lowest point Lowest point : 34m
Difficult Difficulty : Difficult
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Winscombe and Sandford
Starting point Starting point : N 51.314534° / W 2.832791°
Download : -


(D/A) From the front door of the Woodborough Inn, cross the road and walk down Woodborough Road opposite, between the Co-op and Farrons Estate Agents. Just before the former railway bridge, turn right and join the Strawberry Trail; turn right and pass the old platform of Winscombe Station.
After 600 yards, the trail bends left then right. Shortly afterwards, when the trail divides, take the left-hand path up to the road (Ilex Lane).

(1) Turn right over the bridge and follow the lane to its crossroads with Sandford Lane. Cross and turn left. After 300 yards, pass Wimblestone Road on the right, then cross the two ends of South Hill. At the top of the hill, beyond a bus stop, turn right into Quarry Road, shortly passing three impressive limekilns on the left.

(2) Beyond a car parking area, leave the metalled lane and join the bridleway on the left, which climbs gradually through the trees. Pass the end of “Mike’s Path” at a gate on the left, then keep left on the main path when another track departs through a barrier on the right.

The bridleway eventually levels off, and then passes a footpath on the left just before a gate into fields. Follow the obvious track ahead, along the top of the field, to another gate, then continue to a pair of gates, where you take the hand-gate on the right. Follow this narrower, hedged path, which bends right and left and then runs between fields for 600 yards before joining a farm track.

Continue to a junction with a Restricted Byway by some farm buildings, where you turn left.

(3) Beyond the buildings, leave the track on a signposted footpath on the right, which shortly leads into a wood and then descends sharply through the trees down to the A38.

Cross the main road carefully and turn left along the pavement for a short distance, then turn right and follow a short, steep path with a railing down into Dolebury Bottom. Turn right along the metalled lane. Turn sharp left up a driveway past The Oak House and a series of further cottages, then at the top of the slope (Walnut House) turn right onto a path.

(4) This leads shortly to the entrance to Dolebury Warren Nature Reserve. Go through the gate ahead and continue up the main path, which curves left towards the top of the slope and then bears right to a gap in the ramparts of the Hill Fort.
Follow the obvious grassy path up the centre of the fort, aiming for the highest point. Just before the top are the scant remains of the warrener’s house, a remnant from the days when the hillfort was used to raise rabbits. Turn right and follow the rampart downhill towards the south-eastern corner of the hillfort.

(5) When you meet a crossing path, turn left into trees to a stile. Emerge into open grassland again and after about 75 yards (before a fenced area on the right) turn right onto a narrow and fairly indistinct path that leads down through brambles and scrub then curves right to a ladder stile over a fence, above a steep drop with outcropping limestone.

(6) Turn left and follow the narrow path, which curves to the right and then descends steeply down steps. Below the steps, follow the path right and down through trees and below a scree slope to an Avon Wildlife Trust stile leading into a bridleway at the bottom of the valley.

(7) Turn left and follow the track for about 150 yards alongside a stream on your right. At a junction with another valley on the right, turn right over concrete pipes. Follow the footpath along the edge of the wood on the left-hand side of the valley, with a narrow field to your right, until you cross the side-stream.

Keep left at a fork and follow a fenced track past Apple Tree Cottage. Continue along the streamside track to the foot of a metalled road, passing a ford on your left. Continue past a couple more houses, keeping to the valley bottom and ignoring a rising track on the right.
Notice a limekiln on the left at the end of one of the gardens. After another house, pass the Forestry Commission sign for Rowberrow Warren and continue alongside the stream, passing a couple of small brick dams.

The valley opens out slightly and then passes a waymark post reading “Public Bridleway to Blackdown” just before a covered reservoir at a junction.

(8) Leave the stream here, turning sharp right up a path that leads obliquely out of the valley. At the top, follow the road straight ahead, past a series of houses on the left, for half a mile to Shipham, with views to the Bristol Channel.
Pass the end of Deerleap on the left, then turn left at a grassy triangle into Barnpool, which cuts the corner (past Glovers Fold) to Hollow Road, where you turn left (past the junction with Top Road) and walk down to the village green and war memorial.

(9) Turn left along the main road and pass the church then, just as the road begins to climb, cross into a narrow lane on the right above the churchyard wall. Pass the Manor House on the right, then climb a stile by a gate into a field.
Follow the left-hand side of the field, then bear right to another stile in the far right-hand corner. Continue through a patch of woodland and then follow a farm track to reach the lane in Winterhead.

(10) Turn left towards a shallow ford, but before you reach it turn right through a gate in the wall. Cross between paddocks to another gate, beyond which you cross the metalled driveway to Winterhead Farm, continuing ahead on the waymarked footpath between fences.
A kissing gate leads into a field; follow the left-hand edge. After a gateway on the left, bear left to steps and a gate in the far left-hand corner of the field. Turn right and pass through another gate and continue in the same direction (part of a cross-country course) past a house on the right.

(11) After another gate, cross a final field to a driveway leading out to the road in Sidcot. Turn right. Walk between various school buildings out to the A38. Cross and turn left along the pavement beside the main road, then turn right into Hillyfields. Follow this rough road to its end, where a hand-gate leads into a field.

(12) Pass a bench and follow the left-hand side of the field to a kissing gate in the far left-hand corner. Follow a path past a primary school entrance and carry straight on to emerge at the end of Hillyfields Way. Follow this residential road back to the Woodborough Inn. (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 42m - Woodborough Inn
1 : km 1.13 - alt. 40m - Limekilns
2 : km 2.02 - alt. 62m - Fields
3 : km 4.65 - alt. 109m - Wood - Dolebury Bottom
4 : km 5.3 - alt. 127m - Dolebury Warren Nature Reserve - Hillfort
5 : km 5.99 - alt. 154m - Outcropping limestone
6 : km 6.43 - alt. 117m - Avon Wildlife Trust stile
7 : km 6.8 - alt. 128m - Stream - Valley
8 : km 7.97 - alt. 190m - Views to the Bristol Channel
9 : km 9.33 - alt. 139m - War memorial
10 : km 10.1 - alt. 97m - Winterhead Farm
11 : km 11.04 - alt. 84m - Sidcot
12 : km 11.68 - alt. 62m - Primary school
D/A : km 12.15 - alt. 42m - Woodborough Inn

Useful Information

Paths may be muddy after rain and there are a couple of moderate climbs and steep descents. The permitted path leaving Dolebury Warren hillfort runs sharply down rough steps beside a steep slope. There are several stiles to cross.

Pdf link :

The Woodborough Inn
2 Sandford Rd, Winscombe,
Somerset BS25 1HD
Tel 01934 844167

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

Shute Shelve Tunnel is brick-lined at its northern end (pictured) where it passes through soft marl, but the bare walls of hard limestone at the southern end are lined with flowstone.

Sidcot School (right) is one of the few independent Quaker schools in the country, and has its own Friends’ Meeting House.

The village of Compton Bishop is dominated by the tower of St Andrew's Church, a Grade I listed building. The churchyards contains a medieval cross and inside the building is a finely carved stone pulpit described by one antiquarian as “one of the best in Somerset”.

The spectacular 360° view from Crook Peak is dominated by the M5 heading towards the obvious eminence of Brent Knoll, with the Parrett Estuary backed by the Quantocks and Exmoor beyond. To the west the island of Steepholm lurks beyond the ridge of Brean Down; to the north are Avonmouth and the outskirts of Bristol; looking east over Cheddar Reservoir is a glimpse of the Gorge; and to the south are the Somerset Levels, with Glastonbury Tor prominent in the south-east.

Dolebury Warren is a well-preserved Iron Age hillfort with steep slopes and wide views on all sides. It was used as a rabbit warren during the Middle Ages, hence the name, and the ruins of the warrener’s house are still visible.

Cheddar Gorge was formed by meltwater unable to enter the underlying caves during periods when they were blocked by permafrost. Britain's oldest complete human skeleton, Cheddar Man, dating from around 7000BC, was found in Gough’s Cave.

Axbridge, though nowadays smaller than neighbouring Cheddar, is historically the more important settlement and was granted a Royal Charter in 1202 by King John.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.