Bluebell Woods and Riverside Walk

Walk 5 - printable version (1 x A4)

Distance: 5 miles
Time: about 2 hours
Start: By the Wheelwrights Arms in Monkton Combe - parking in village car park opposite the church (GR 773620). Or lay-by on A36 few hundred yards past the petrol garage, in the direction of Bath.
Maps: OS Explorer 155 Landranger 172

From the Wheelwrights Arms, turn right (east) and follow the road to Brassknocker Hill and cross, with great care, to the road opposite which will lead you to the A36. Cross the busy road, again with care, and follow the track ahead which leads down to the Dundas Basin on the Kennet and Avon Canal. (alternative starting point is the adjacent lay-by on the A36).

At the Basin, turn left, passing an old crane and a board giving the history of the canal and aqueduct, and cross the canal by the high footbridge. Turn right to cross the Dundas Aqueduct with the canal of your right, and where the canal swings right, follow the footpath to the left of the boat building shed, and cross a stile into a field. Cross the field diagonally to the left and uphill to a stile beside a water trough and the wood. Continue on the same line over the next field, and follow a steep stony path to Conkwell Village. (A stick would be a help on this path). On your right is a spring which was once the water supply for the hamlet. At the T-junction at the top of the hill turn left and walk along the road, passing a road turning on the left, to a stone stile on the left.

The footpath follows the edge of a wood with fields on the right - in May the woods are full of bluebells. Now the views tot he right are of stretches of open countryside to the south-east. Go over another stone stile and through a metal gate - the wood is now on your right, and and a field on the left. At a gap in the wood, turn right and then left to follow the field edge to a stile beside a gate into the wood on your left. Go through the wood to emerge over a stile into another field, where you follow the boundary of Inwoods Estate on your left. Two metal gates on the left lead into the stable yard of Inwoods, and the drive on your right takes you to the main road, the A363 at Farleigh Wick. Walk along the A363 to the left and come to the Fox and Hounds Inn - a good resting point!

From the inn pass some houses on the left and at the end of the pavement cross the road to a gap and kissing gate in the hedge. Through the gate follow the path diagonally across the field to a stile in the corner. Take the nearer left-hand Public Footpath sign and follow through farm buildings and along the lane to Pinkney Green, which was a settlement of quarrymen working in the Farleigh Wick stone mines. Bear round to the right, and at the T-junction take the footpath ahead, a sunken path between hedges which passes a garden with beehives and goes under the A363. Where three paths diverge, take the left-hand one. This is a bridleway, and therefore may be muddy, but is less steep than the alternatives. The path skirts the edge of the woods with views down to the Avon valley. It emerges on to a lane, where you turn right downhill to Sheephouse Farm. Take the footpath into the farmyard and a further path half-right from the yard into the fields and over the stiles into th water-meadows (you may pass a large and friendly pig!).

Follow the river upstream, over some good footbridges which cross streams, for about a mile back to the Dundas Aqueduct. Just before the aqueduct there are remains of a wharf where stone from Conkwell quarry came down on a railway to be loaded on to barges on the river. Pass the Monkton Combe School boathouses, go under the aqueduct, and immediately left up steep steps to emerge on the aqueduct towpath. Cross the aqueduct and the lifting bridge over the Coal Canal entrance, and so up the path to the A36 and the way home.