Two routes are offered, both of which are easy to follow and walk (apart from one short section of the direct route).
IN MARCH 2023 THIS ROUTE HAS BEEN SLIGHTLY CHANGED BECAUSE OF A FOOTBRIDGE CLOSURE. See this post for more information and a very straightforward diversion adding about a minute. The route guidance below has not been edited to reflect this change. LINK TO DETAILS OF DIVERSION WITH MAP.
The first direct route is the recommended route in good weather and dry spells, mostly off-road, and with splendid views on the return. 3 miles (5 km), 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, easy. (The distance and time are from Bruton to The Newt, not for the round trip). In winter and after other periods of prolonged wet weather parts of this route become very muddy and unpleasant, rendering it almost impassable in places.
At these times take the alternative route, which is almost entirely on minor or very minor roads. This route is also a very pleasant walk but has a short final section along the fast A359. A wide verge offers safe refuge. 3.5 miles (6 km), 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes, easy. (The distance and time are from Bruton to The Newt, not for the round trip).
Please remember that dogs are not permitted at The Newt.
As can be seen from the map, the routes cross each other from b to c, so it is possible to follow part of each to vary the walk. Walk anticlockwise for the best views and to avoid the steepest climb.
Both routes start at Station Road car park and follow the same route through the town…
From the car park turn right towards the town. Swing right opposite the church, cross the river and the road to reach a Town Map which will guide you along the Riverside Walk. Opposite the back of Sexeys Hospital (old medieval buildings set above gardens) turn left (before a house called Heybrook), cross the river and turn right at the junction to continue along the Riverside Walk to reach the main road. Here the routes diverge.
Direct route via Gants Mill, Cole, Ridge Lane and Hurn Lane
Turn right, cross the road at the zebra crossing, turn back towards the filling station and immediately go up the drive to Mill on the Brue Outdoor Activity Centre. Just before the house turn left over a stile and continue along a clear path (a bridleway) below the garden. The path goes under a zip wire then through an obstacle course to a gate. Go through the wood, with a mill stream below 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 becomes narrow and climbs steeply for a short stretch. Take care here, particularly in the wet, and consider returning by the alternative route if too slippy.
The path 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 off to the left, 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 a gate and an obvious tunnel under the Great Western Railway.
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 turn left to follow the lane, cross the River Brue, turn left on reaching Wyke Lane, and continue a few metres to reach Cole.
Turn right. Shortly after crossing the River Pitt the road climbs and turns right past a wood on the left. Take the metalled lane next left (Ridge Lane, unsigned).
The lane climbs very steeply at first, then gradually levels out, becoming unmetalled. Turn round occasionally for great views. A lane joins from the left, another from the right; eventually a crossroads is reached. Go straight on (into Hurn Lane). Eventually the lane reaches the A359. Cross with great care and take the minor road directly opposite. After 100m turn right to enter the Newt estate through its vehicular exit. Continue to reach the car park and the main entrance.
Wet weather route via Cole, Hadspen and Higher Hadspen
Turn left, cross the road and pass under the railway bridge. A couple of minutes up Cole Road take the first right down Gants Mill Lane (un-signed). Continue parallel to the railway then through a small wood until a T junction is reached. Turn right and walk into the pleasant hamlet of Cole (b on the map). Continue along the road through Cole, ignoring a road to the right and a track to the left at point c (Ridge Lane, the direct route). After just over 1km the equally pretty hamlet of Hadspen is reached. Ignore a minor lane on the left and turn left at the obvious junction, passing in front of the village hall on the left.
The very minor road leads gently uphill through glorious pastoral landscape to reach the tiny and beautiful hamlet of Higher Hadspen. The road continues more steeply uphill to reach the A359. Turn left and walk along the left verge of this fast and relatively busy road, until opposite the main entrance to the Newt. Cross the road with care and enter the estate, following signs to the visitors’ car park and the public entrance.
Return routes from the Newt to Bruton
[To be used if returning by a different route.]
Direct route via Hurn Lane, Ridge Lane and Cole
Do not take this route in winter or after prolonged wet weather. Parts become muddy, rutted and virtually impassable on foot.
Leave The Newt via the vehicular exit, turning left towards the A359. Take great care crossing the road, and take the lane (Hurn Lane, unsigned) immediately opposite.
Continue over a crossroads of lanes, past a lane on the left, and a lane on the right. Fine views open up. The lane becomes metalled and eventually drops steeply to a T junction. Turn right and go back into Cole.
At the junction turn left between two houses 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.
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 and join a better path leading right to a gate. Continue to the next gate, taking great care on the steep drop down to Gants Mill. Follow the path high above the mill race to another gate, then through the Mill on the Brue Outdoor Activity Centre. On reaching the house the path turns uphill to the left through a gate to reach the drive. Walk down the drive to rejoin the outgoing route.
Wet weather route via Higher Hadspen, Hadspen and Cole
Leave The Newt by the vehicular entrance. Take great care crossing the A359 and head left, sticking to the verge to avoid fast-moving traffic. In less than 200m take a lane heading downhill to the right (ignore the entrance to Hadspen Quarry).
The lane drops steeply downhill to reach the attractive hamlet of Higher Hadspen. It then levels out and continues through a delightful rural landscape to reach a T junction. Turn right.
After 1km the road crosses the River Pitt and reaches Cole. Take the second road on the left (the first is the outgoing direct route). The very minor road climbs through a small wood, then drops and runs parallel to the railway line, eventually reaching the A359. Turn left, go under the railway bridge, and re-join the outgoing route.