A walk for history lovers
- Credit: Paul Keen
This route near Somerton includes a visit to some of Somerset’s most fascinating archaeological sites
This reserve is a mosaic of calcareous grassland, scrub, ancient oak woodland, secondary woodland and conifer plantation on Dundon Hill, close by to Compton Dundon, near Somerton. The top of Dundon Hill features significant archaeological remains with a hill fort, Bronze Age round barrow and ancient quarry so there’s plenty to see and explore – but make sure you wrap up warm!
Starting from the Castlebrook Inn, turn left and follow the main road for 100 metres to a public footpath signposted on your right. Walk through the kissing gate and follow the footpath along the edge of the fields.
You now join the Church Path, a footpath linking Compton with the parish church in Dundon. The flagstones along the route were laid in the 18th century! Be careful, they might be frosty or slippy if it’s wet.
Turn left, passing a metal gate and follow the steep track up Dundon Hill to Dundon Beacon Nature Reserve. Hopefully this climb will warm you up, even if it is a chilly day for a bracing walk. As you reach the top you will see a Somerset Wildlife Trust information board for Dundon Beacon where you can learn more about the reserve. From here, you can also explore the ancient hill fort, species-rich grassland and marvel at the magical misty views across the surrounding moors and hills!
Make your way back to the information board and head back down the track. After a short distance turn left along a path, pass a metal gate and then turn right down the hill (careful – it’s steep in places!) meandering between ant hills.
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The grassland here supports many plants and insects that thrive on the limestone soil. At the foot of the slope turn right and join a footpath that leads to the Church Path. At the Church Path you have a choice; either turn right to head back to the Castlebrook Inn (for a warming winter drink!) or turn left to visit the parish Church of St Andrew, dating from the 14th century, and its ancient yew tree, believed to be over 1,700 years old! Its evergreen needle-like leaves are present all year round so you should even be able to enjoy the sight of its greenery in December!
From here you can also carry on to Lollover Hill. On the return route, follow the Church Path through a kissing gate in the hedge on your left about 100 metres past the track that runs up Dundon Hill. Follow the path to the road, Ham Lane, and turn right. At the junction with the main road, turn right to return to the Castlebrook Inn, and maybe reward yourself with a nice hot cuppa, or something a little stronger perhaps!
For more great winter walks see the December edition of Somerset Life.
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