This route explores the deep coombes north of Bruton. It includes some excellent views and visits the oldest oak in the entire area. Most of the route is either on quiet country lanes or through fields. A short stretch of the route is a steep tussocky descent, which may get slippery in the wet and winter. An easy (and shorter) alternative route is offered, but this misses the views and the oak.
5.5 miles, 9 km, 170 m of ascent. About 120 to 145 minutes. Easy but with one moderate descent. Alternative route is easy, just over 5 miles, about ten minutes less.
GPX. (starts in High Street)
Start at Station Road Car Park
From the car park turn right along the road with St. Mary’s Church on your left. On reaching Church Bridge cross the river and the road and continue up Patwell Street, turning left into the High Street. Go along the High Street and take the first right turn up steep and narrow St Catherines Hill. The road levels and crosses a junction into Higher Tolbury. Continue straight ahead. The road becomes a track through the wood and eventually emerges onto the B3081.
Turn left along the road and follow for 200 m (ignoring a stile to the right). Take great care here: although there is not much traffic the road is narrow and windy with blind corners.
Go through a gate to the right onto a bridleway (signed Snakelake and Milton Clevedon) with the fence immediately to the right then between two lines of trees. This stretch is often very muddy. Go through a gate, down through a wood and another gate (often open) to a gate into a field at the bottom. After heavy rain the patch of field just beyond the gate can be awash.
The bridleways beyond this point have been fenced in, which makes route-finding very easy, but the ambience less pleasant. Take the right fork uphill to a gate about 500m on.
Look round after going through the gate and ponder the meaning of the sign which gives the walk its name (reportedly there was a rabbit warren here in the 1970s, with many hazardous holes). Go straight across the field on the obvious path, and on reaching the road at Snakelake Hill turn right downhill. As the road bends to the right at the bottom of the hill an obvious footpath leads to the left through a delightful wood to a small bridge and stile at the end.
The path vanishes. Continue slightly left along the floor of a small valley, with the fence to the left and the barns of Henley Grove Farm ahead. Soon two stiles and a plank lead across the narrow ditch to the left. Climb up the bank and through the gate into the farm.
The public right of way runs straight through this large busy dairy farm. Watch out for large tractors and other manoeuvring vehicles. The farmer is very respectful of walkers. Respect his workplace in turn, following the correct route, keeping dogs on a lead and children under control. Go straight ahead through the farm passing a barn on the left and several on the right then turn left up the drive between two cottages. At the top of the drive turn left onto Copplesbury Lane.
There is very little traffic on this lane. Perhaps because of this, and because it is straight, some vehicles go too fast. Take care. Continue west towards Creech Hill visible in the distance. Cross the Batcombe Road at Hedgestocks, (where a leaflet fixed to a tree gives a detailed history of this ancient junction) reaching a farm drive on the left (old fingerpost on the right of the road). If taking the alternative route turn left here and skip the next section. Otherwise…
…continue and pass the Spargrove road on the right to reach the junction with the B3081 as it crests Creech Hill. Go through the field gate on the left. The bridleway is often feint; it skirts the cattle pen and leads over to and along the hedge on the left-hand side of the field to reach a gate. Excellent views open up on all sides. Go through the gate and follow the recently fenced bridleway directly ahead along the ridge, with drops into Greenscombe on either side. Taking care descend just to the left of the magnificent old oak with glorious views ahead over Greenscombe to the Stourhead ridge in the distance.
This tree, registered as the ‘Magic Tree’ and known as the Wishing Tree is by far the oldest oak in the area. It is thought to be about 600 years old. It is 7.8 m in circumference and has recently been heavily trimmed to prevent further splitting. Continue downhill, heading for a gate onto the drive to Greenscombe Farm. Turn right along the drive. Skip the next paragraph.
Go straight down the drive (a bridleway). Pass houses then Higher Greenscombe Farm on the right. Ignore a gate to the left and shortly reach another gate. Once through the gate ignore the footpath branching left and follow the bridleway as it swings right in front of the house before heading left down the floor of the broad valley. Pass outhouses on the right and follow signs to the left of all the buildings [the right of way used to run through the farm but has been diverted to avoid the farmyard]. Pass a footpath on the left and continue to join the Greenscombe Farm drive. The main route joins the drive at a gate on the right.
Continue down the drive for 100m, then turn left on a fenced bridleway. [Do not continue down the drive past this point: there is no public right of way, and it leads to a dangerous stretch of the B3081]. The bridleway turns right downhill to re-join the outgoing route for the return to Bruton.
Explore Somerset map references
Public roads to Higher Tolbury. WN 5/45 to B3081. North on B3081 then WN 5/64 and SM15/21 to Snakelake Hill. SE on public road then SM 15/19 and SM 15/20 to Copplesbury Lane. West to junction with B3081 then SM15/15 to rejoin outgoing route.