This longer walk visits three of the attractive hamlets to the south west of Bruton as well as Pitcombe Church. The houses are mostly built of warm golden stone from Hadspen Quarry, giving a different feel to the more austere stone used for much of Bruton. At the very end of April and beginning of May the Hadspen orchards are a sea of palest pink blossom, and there are good views back off Ridge Hill.
There are some route-finding challenges, a very short downhill scramble at point 4, and a steep uphill climb out of Hadspen, making the walk moderate. Obvious short-cuts (shown on the map, but not described) can be used to reduce its length.
6 miles (10 km), 240 m of ascent, 2 hrs 15 mins to 3 hrs. Moderate.
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.
Just after the gate pass an oak tree. About 20 m further a narrow path turns left, sharply at another oak tree. It immediately becomes a short and steep downhill scramble, so take great care.
Get down the hill as best you can and go straight ahead past a splendid oak to an obvious tunnel under the Great Western Railway. Go through the gate and follow the narrow field between the river and the railway line. The field gradually widens. The right of way goes right slightly uphill towards Cole Stile Farm ahead, over the stile which gives the farm its name and into the lane. However, the owners have created a permissive path that continues along the riverbank leading to a gate into the lane. This route is altogether better than the right of way and should be followed if possible.
In either case continue down the lane, over the Brue, turn left on reaching Wyke Lane, and continue a few metres to reach Cole.
Turn right at the T junction, and continue past the houses and farms, crossing the River Pitt. The road is quiet, but occasional traffic can go too fast, so take care. Pass Cole Farm and then Cole Farm Barn on the right. Just after the garden at Cole Farm Barn, turn off to a gate on the right.
Once through the gate head diagonally across the large meadow to a gate in the far corner. Go through the gate, into a large orchard and after a few metres turn sharp right downhill to a bridge. Go straight on uphill between the lines of cider-apple trees, turning left up a track along the top edge of the orchard. Continue climbing to reach a gate. Once through the gate keep straight on with the hedge just to your right up Ridge Hill.
The path becomes more distinct, meandering across the hillside just below the ridge, with views down to Hadspen on the left, and superb views back towards Bruton behind you. Eventually reach the top corner of the field and turn right through a gate. Go a short distance across the corner of the next field, over a stile and down some steps to reach Wyke Road (more of a lane).
Turn left down the road for a few metres, then left through the second gate (signed Hadspen ¾ mile) and steeply downhill into Knap Hollow. The path (actually a bridleway) becomes unclear, but head downhill staying close to the fence/hedge/trees on the left. After another gate the route starts to level. Continue through the next field and find a gate into the wood on your left. Go through the gate and into the wood. After a few metres the indistinct path turns into what can be a very muddy rutted track. The track leaves the wood, swings right and climbs gently to reach the road.
Turn right and walk into Hadspen, passing houses on your left. After a postbox built into a wall on your left and a further house reach an un-signed metalled lane on your left (if you get to the road junction you have gone too far).
Turn left up the lane (actually Nettlecombe Hill) between the house and Hadspen Community Hall. The lane begins to climb steeply through trees. After passing Nettlecombe Cottage on the left, the metalling turns to cobbles and the lane steepens further. Eventually it levels off and the trees become hedges. Cross a new concrete farm track (not shown on the OS map), pausing to admire wide views to the north through the gate on the left, then continue to a T junction of tracks. Go through the gate directly opposite and into the field.
There is no path. Head slightly right straight across the field to the gate almost opposite (next to a small barn). Go through the gate and turn left onto the track. Go past ruined barns on your left and (usually) some agricultural detritus. After less than 200 metres take another gate on the right into a field.
There is no path. Head to the left, slightly away from the track you were on, and towards the lip of a noticeable hollow in the field. Drop down into this hollow, and eventually a gate in the hedge opposite becomes visible ahead. Head down to the gate, through it and turn left down the track. Pitcombe Church becomes visible ahead. Go through a further gate and reach this delightful church (best viewed from the bridge below it or the road opposite, in which case retrace your steps to the churchyard).
Turn left along the path that runs below the churchyard, go through a gate, and follow a clear path across the hillside to emerge through another two gates onto Pitcombe Hill. Turn right downhill past houses and barns to reach a delightful spot at the bridge over the River Pitt. This is Pitcombe.
Cross the bridge and at the junction turn left before the viaduct, following the lane between the terrace of houses and the viaduct. A few hundred metres further on the lane turns sharply right. Turn off to the left, through a gate and across the meadow ahead following an obvious path. Go through another gate. Ignore the path leading to the right between hedges and go straight ahead, following a fine line of lime trees. The mill stream for Cole Manor is just below on the left. Eventually emerge onto the road. Turn left, then right into Wyke Lane and return to Bruton by the outgoing route.