A glorious walk through a range of different landscapes with excellent views. Mostly on easy footpaths or very quiet country lanes, apart from two very short moderate sections near Gants Mill. All stiles are dog-friendly for all but the largest of dogs. There are likely to be livestock somewhere on this route, and there can be the occasional deer at Ridge Hill. Some muddy sections in wet weather, but overall less muddy than most Bruton walks.
Easy to follow except at the one point described below. For the best views walk the route as numbered rather than clockwise.
9 km (5½ miles), 200 m (650 ft) ascent. About 120 to 150 minutes. Easy apart from two very short sections. Route last checked in June 2020.
Start at Bruton Community Office
Walk west along the High Street (against the traffic), past Sexeys Hospital, down the hill and swing left into West End. Cross the road at the zebra crossing and turn right up the drive to Mill on the Brue Outdoor Activity Centre next to the filling station (point 2).
Continue through the car park and up the drive. Just before the house turn left over a stile and continue to the right along a clear path below the garden. The path continues under the zip wire then through the obstacle course to a gate. From there go through the wood, with a mill stream below you to the left, to reach another gate and the delightful setting of Gants Mill.
Follow the narrow path leading up to the right above the former Mill works and through a gate. The path here becomes narrow and climbs steeply for a short stretch. Take care. It then levels out and runs high above the river, before reaching another gate. The next short section presents the only real navigational challenge of this walk.
Cows and rabbits have, over the years, completely remodelled this area. The path you need to take goes straight through the scrubby woodland, then slightly up the bank between some small trees and out into the field above the scrub. It then continues slightly downhill, just above the scrub, then close to the railway line. After zig-zagging through Cole Gribb (a mysterious and often muddy gully) go slightly right and uphill over to the gate at the far corner of the field.
Go through the gate and turn right along Wyke Lane. The landscape changes completely as the lane meanders gently down through open countryside, with views opening up in all directions.
Arriving at the T junction in Lower Wyke turn left down Wyke Road (more of a lane than a road). This very quiet road drops gradually downhill to cross the River Brue and then the Great Western Railway.
Once over the railway the road climbs quite steeply up the side of Ridge Hill. Through gaps in the hedge on the right Glastonbury Tor can be seen to the north-west, and the Mendip ridge to the north-east. Shortly after a sharp left turn the top of the hill is reached. After about 150 m gently downhill the road swings right. Take the steps up the bank (signed Cole 1½ miles) on the left.
Go over the stile, across a short stretch of field and through a gate then turn left. From here the path meanders across the side of the hill just below the fence. This section of the walk is one of the finest in the area. The hamlet of Hadspen is visible below, and once a corner is rounded there is a glorious rural view up the valley to the east, with St Marys Church in Bruton visible in the distance and the Stourhead ridge beyond. In the last week of April and first week of May the Hadspen orchards below are a sea of pale pink apple blossom.
The path gradually gets less distinct, but the route is obvious, with the fence close by to the left. It drops gently downwards to a gate through into the orchards.
Go through the gate and follow the rough track that runs next to the hedge down the left hand side of the orchard. Near the bottom watch for a not very obvious sign to the left of the track, indicating where the path turns right downhill off the track, between two rows of apple trees.
Go down through the orchard and across the brook. Turn left, go through a gate and then diagonally across the field to the opposite corner, where a gate leads on to the road. Turn left and follow the road past houses and a farm, over the River Pitt and into Cole.
At the junction turn left between two houses (Wyke Lane again) then immediately right into the private lane leading to Colestile (also known as Cole Style). The lane crosses the Brue by a narrow bridge.
In the winter of 2020, the landowners established a permissive path through the field in front of Colestile which is more direct, easier to follow and altogether better than the ‘official’ route. Follow it if open, by turning right through the gate immediately after the bridge. Continue through the field with the River Brue to your right. Otherwise walk up the drive to the house and take the stile into the field on your right. The field narrows as the river and railway line gradually converge. Go under the railway. Usually a swamp in winter, the landowner has now installed stepping-stones under the railway bridge. It is not yet known whether they will work.
Go through the gate and straight on up the hill ahead past a fine oak tree. The path becomes indistinct. Scramble straight ahead up the muddy bank to re-join the outgoing route at point 4. Return to Bruton using the outgoing route, taking great care on the steep drop down to Gants Mill.