Walks in and around Monkton Combe
Brookside Views - by Nigel Vile
General description of walk - printable version (1xA4)
Distance: 5 miles
To the south of Bath the network of rivers and streams carves out a most dramatic landscape. There is, of course, the Avon Valley, that most popular of walking locations, running south to Bradford on Avon. The Avon is fed by a number of diminutive streams and rivers, that include the Somerset Frome, Wellow Brook and Midford Brook.
This walk includes an impressive section of the Midford Brook, upstream of Monkton Combe, as well as the hillsides to the south west of the river.
From Monkton Combe, whose former mills are now overshadowed by the local public school, the walk climbs steeply uphill to neighbouring Limpley Stoke. St. Mary's Church, high on a hilltop to the south of the village, can boast a fair deal of history. The nave walls, for example, are allegedly those of a small chapel built in 1001 to mark the boundary of land given by Ethelred, son of King Edgar, to the Abbess of Shaftesbury in 973.
Beyond St. Mary's, fieldpaths and lanes take the walk through the scattered hamlets of Sharpstone and Pipehouse. Along the way you may catch a glimpse of the very private Hinton Priory through the trees. This former Carthusian priory, founded in 1232, was abandoned during the dissolution. The remains consist of the chapter house, the refectory and the outline of the cloister.
Pipehouse Lane descends steeply down the hillside into Midford. 'Lane' is perhaps a misnomer. The tarmac surface soon gives way to a rough, boulder-strewn track that can resemble a stream following a heavy rain..
It is the simple matter of following the Midford Brook back into Monkton Combe, with one last surprise in store along the way.
There, on the hillside above the river, stands the quite imposing Midford Castle. The main house is shaped like a triangle, with a circular tower at each corner. It is said that a society gambler once made his fortune by turning up the ace of clubs. In the hope of perpetuating his fortune, he built this residence!