Stoke-sub-Hamdon, South Somerset
Welcome to the first of our 2022 series of ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ blogs – a curated collection of places to visit, each centred on a Strongvox development located in the glorious West Country. We hope this will inspire you to get outdoors and discover the treasures and beauty of our local areas on foot!
In this edition we’ll explore three beautiful places to visit near our Phelips Court development in the pretty village of Stoke-sub-Hamdon. Built with traditional materials and tastefully designed, this select development of 16 two and three-bedroom homes forms a quiet cul-de-sac off Great Field Lane. Our top three recommendations for places to take a walk on the wild side are:
Ham Hill Country Park – on the doorstep
Yeovil Country Park – six miles from Stoke-sub-Hamdon
Chard Reservoir LNR – 13 miles from Stoke-sub-Hamdon
Ham Hill Country Park
Stoke-sub-Hamdon sits at the foot of Ham Hill Country Park, the largest Iron Age hill fort in Great Britain, offering stunning views across the Somerset countryside. The war memorial situated on top of the hill dominates the skyline for miles around, but you’ll also find plenty of free parking (closest postcode is TA14 6RW), a visitors centre and the popular Prince of Wales pub offering refreshments all year round.
There are walks aplenty from the car park, ranging from a short stroll to the war memorial, stone circle, Iron Age ramparts and Victorian spoil heaps (an area of large grassy mounds, great for kids to explore), or stay longer and find the lime kiln, the woodland play area, time stones, or even the sites of a roman villa and a former medieval settlement in the Witcombe Valley.
If you want to discover the surrounding countryside on foot, our budding explorer Viv has mapped out a lovely four-mile (7km) circular walk on Komoot, starting from the visitors centre. This undulating walk, which Viv found in an old AA book entitled ‘50 Walks in Somerset’, follows the edge of Ham Hill, along peaceful woodland paths into the green medieval Witcombe Valley. The route then climbs out of this small valley, before descending through the National Trust beech woodland of Ladies’ Walk into the picturesque village of Montacute, with its beautiful golden-hued Ham stone cottages. Well worth a visit in its own right is Montacute House – a stunning example of Elizabethan Renaissance architecture, owned by the National Trust. Stop for refreshments at the village’s 17th century pubs, and then begin a short, but steep climb to the tower and amazing viewpoint on St Michael’s Hill, the site of a former Norman castle. From here, the route descends through a field and meanders along a woodland path back to Ham Hill Country Park.
This walk is suitable for dogs, but sadly, not pushchairs, and may also be muddy in places. You can view the walk on Komoot, along with photos at key points, here. This link on the Komoot app also provides a navigation tool to assist with following the route. Please observe The Countryside Code at all times. We hope you enjoy it – please leave a comment on Komoot to let Viv know your thoughts!
The Countryside Code
- Be safe, plan ahead and follow any signs
- Leave gates and property as you find them
- Protect plants and animals and take your litter home
- Keep dogs under close control and on a lead in fields of livestock. Please clean up after your dog and use the dog waste bins provided
- Be considerate of other people using the country park
- Ham Hill is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and it is an offence to make excavations or use metal detectors on the site
Yeovil Country Park
Yeovil Country Park is a fabulous green space flanking Dodham Brook and the River Yeo on the urban fringe of southeast Yeovil. This large park encompasses five distinct areas and offers something for everyone.
Closest to the town centre, the first area is the more traditional Penn Hill gardens, with views across the town. At Ninesprings you’ll find a great café and visitors centre with handy maps, themed trails and activity sheets for the kids. The famous Victorian valley gardens with meandering paths, bridges, waterfalls and grottoes along the stream are a must-see.
From Ninesprings, head along the cycle way, beyond the small lake and play area to the steeply sloping grassy Summerhouse Hill. Just beyond, the track leads to Wyndham Hill – a climb through the wooded parkland is rewarded with more great views.
Continue past the river, across the road (Yeovil Pen Mill train station is close by) and you’ll find Riverside, a corridor of woodland and grassland which is home to otters, many insects and birds.
There are many picnic spots throughout the park and a designated BBQ area at Ninesprings. Several pay and display car parks are available. Viv parked at the Goldenstones car park (BA20 1QZ) right next to the Ninesprings Café, which has 146 spaces and is free on a Sunday. Free downloads of the information leaflets and trails are available here.
Photo credit: J Pippard
Chard Reservoir Local Nature Reserve
The Chard Reservoir was constructed in 1842 to provide water for the Chard canal, which linked with Ilminster. When the railway arrived in Chard, the reservoir became redundant in 1868. Having been privately owned for more than a century, the reservoir was conveyed to South Somerset District Council in 1990, when it became a Local Nature Reserve.
Today, it is a fantastic site for walking and seeing wildlife in its natural habitat at close quarters. The wild flower meadows and woodland that edges the open water are connected by a network of surfaced and grassland paths which are all suitable for pushchairs. Mobility vehicles can be used throughout the reserve and there is a small children’s woodland play area. Dogs are welcome at the reserve but there is a strict ‘dogs on short leads’ zone in the woodland and dogs are not allowed in the woodland near the bird hide.
It’s about a one mile (1.5km) walk from one end of the site to the other, and it is possible to complete a two-mile (3.3km) circuit of the reservoir by joining the Sustrans cycle route at the far end of the reserve, and then left along the old railway cycle route back to Touches Lane (a private road). The nature reserve has a car park on Oaklands Avenue (TA20 1HU) but there isn’t a café on the site.
We hope these suggestions will inspire you to get outdoors and get active, especially as spring seems to have finally sprung this week!
Look out for the next Walk on the Wild Side blog, when Viv will be exploring beautiful places close to our Cricketer Farm and Paddons Farm Strongvox development near the stunning Quantock Hills in Somerset.
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