Walks in and around
Monkton Combe

Walk 1
Brassknocker,
Kennet & Avon

Walk 2
Combe Down, Horsecombe Vale & Tucking Mill

Walk 3
Bridging the gap

Walk 4
Somerset Coal Canal & Southstoke

Walk 5
Bluebell Woods &
Riverside Walk

Walk 6
Rainbow's End

Walk 7
Brookside Views

Walk 8
Monkton Combe, Southstoke, Midford

 

 

Bridging the Gap

Walk 3 - by Nigel Vile

Oct 2010 - mid Dec 2010 this walk will be closed at Mill Lane

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General Description - a personal view

"It was deep in a valley that we crossed a beautiful aqueduct, where the canal passed over the River Avon. We were very impressed by the grandeur of the structure set in such glorious surroundings". These thoughts were penned by some early navigators as they approached Bath on the Kennet and Avon Canal. The glorious surroundings were the steep wooded slopes of the Limpley Stoke Valley, whilst the structure was Dundas Aqueduct. Constructed in the Doric style, this is surely the finest existing testimony to the skills of John Rennie, the canal's chief engineer.

From Dundas, where a stone warehouse and adjoining crane mark the junction of the K&A with the Somerset Coal Canal, the walk follows lanes through Monkton Combe, best known for its public school, founded in the 19th century by a local clergyman for the training of the sons of missionaries.

The former woollen mills on the Midford Brook below the school speak of an earlier chapter in the village's history.

A steep climb of over 250 feet, up and over a wooded hillside spur, brings the walk to the neighbouring valley and the village of Limpley Stoke. This is a settlement full of houses with views, set against the steep sides of the Avon Valley.

The residences have been described as 'Bathish in appearance' and are built across the hillside to take advantage of the exceptional vistas down the valley.

There is also the small matter of the Hop Pole Inn, a 14th century hostelry that is a regular entry in the Good Pub Guide. The picture book cream stone exterior of this former monks' wine lodge has its name deeply incised in the front wall.

Having passed the white-painted former railway half, the walk returns to Dundas along a stretch of the K&A Canal that will surely have visitors reaching for their dictionary of superlatives.

On one side, the slopes of Conkwell Wood tumble down to the canal bank, their green and rustic richness contrasting with the flat meadows and pastures bordering the Avon to the west.

As you cross Dundas Aqueduct at journey's end, gaze over the solid parapets of this fine construction. Local legend maintains that boys from Monkton Combe School at one time cycled along those narrow cornices that overhang the river flowing far below. At least a tumble would result in a soft - if somewhat damp - landing!

 

Instructions:
Distance: 3 miles
Time: up to 2 hours
Start: Lay-by on the A36, above Dundas Wharf (GR 783624)
Maps: OS Explorer 155
Refreshments: Pubs in Monkton Combe and Limpley Stoke

Park up in the lay-by on the same side as the BP garage (just before garage when travelling from Bath). Walk to the end of the lay-by nearest the garage, cross the A36 with care and follow the  lane opposite that (road signpost to Monkton Combe). At the crossroads, where it crosses over Brassknocker Hill, go straight on and into the village. Pass the school buildings, and just before the Wheelwrights Arms, turn left into Mill Lane. At the bottom of Mill Lane, cross the sluice to the right of the mill before continuing along an enclosed footpath to a footbridge across Midford Brook. Cross the river, before climbing the steps on the left and following a path running between Midford Brook and some houses. Keep on this path as it bears right to join an access drive to Waterhouse. Follow this drive to the left for 200 yards to a junction by the last cottage on the left. At this point, cross a stile on the right to follow the signposted footpath to Limpley Stoke.

Follow the field-path uphill to a stile opposite and a path leading into some woodland. Climb the stepped path uphill through the trees. Towards the top of the climb, keep on the path as it bears left. Continue along the path as it crosses more open hilltop, before dropping down hill to the A36, keeping left at one obvious fork. Cross the A36, by a cottage, with extreme care, to Woods Hill. Continue downhill for 50 yards before turning left to follow a lane down to the Hop Pole Inn and the main road in Limpley Stoke. Turn left, and follow this road beside the railway to its junction with the B3108.

Turn right under the railway bridge, and follow the B3108 and the Kennet and Avon Canal. Follow the towpath to the left - signposted Dundas - for half a mile to Dundas Aqueduct and the adjoining wharf. Having crossed the entrance to the Somerset Coal Canal follow the drive to the left uphill to the A36, and the lay-by.

 

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