This is a very easy, West Somerset walk around Nynehead. If you're a fan of Industrial Heritage, this is a walk-through history lesson is tucked into the landscape surrounding the village; add in great views and a fairly level route and you have a near-perfect short ramble with lots of interest on the way.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
If there is space at Nynehead Memorial Hall they are happy for walkers to park there, but please be considerate towards other users.
(D/A) From Nynehead Memorial Hall, turn left out of the car park and walk down the road. This soon becomes a deep cutting beneath towering walls (the hollow), a dramatic and rather extraordinary stretch of the lane.
This was created by labourers working for the Sandford family, owners of Nynehead Court until the 1940s. Accounts of the gorge’s construction differ with one explaining that the Sandfords established the project to improve the plight of local families who were suffering as a result of wide-scale unemployment. Another explanation was the lane would give local people working on the Court’s estate an easier and quicker route to work.
(1) Walk through the large entrance gateway on the left and look for the multi-way fingerpost just inside near a willow stag. A footpath is clearly signed along the surfaced drive, bearing right from inside the gate and passing the various buildings of the Court. The path passes parking areas and the main house will be seen over to the left. Follow the drive until the tarmac runs out, then keep ahead on the unsurfaced track, passing parking areas and leaving the buildings behind as the path curves gently left round the periphery of the Court. When you reach a fork go left – there is a yellow arrow on a post to reassure – and in about 30m you reach a metal kissing gate beside a fingerpost. Pass through into the field and pause to enjoy distant views ahead towards Wellington Monument.
This was built to mark the Duke of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo; construction started in 1817 but due to a lack of funding wasn’t completed until 1892, 40 years after the Duke’s death.
Cross the large field in the direction shown on the fingerpost; we were walking through wheat here but a clear and pleasing path had been left through the crop for walkers. Ahead a stone bridge spanning the River Tone comes into view and you may hear trains in the distance as they travel between London and the West Country. At the far side of the field cross the bridge, pausing to admire the river on both sides. At the end of the bridge go through a metal gate, swiftly followed by a wooden kissing gate, on which a yellow arrow points the way, bearing right on the public footpath across the field. Follow the footpath across the field heading for a point between two pylons. This line passes beneath the wires and reaches a metal gate. Go through, crossing a small bridge and entering under trees. The lovely sunken path now goes through the verdant woodland of Stedham’s Covert; follow it, ignoring any animal paths going off.
(2) The path bends right then left, and in less than 200m emerges from the trees. Ignore a right fork (if you see it) and stay ahead on the path, which gradually bears left then swings more distinctly left. To the right of the path is a treed boundary with a field beyond and houses on the outskirts of Wellington beyond that. You may also spot a passing train.
(3) Gradually the path comes close to the well-screened railway – any trains are barely visible – and, about 750m from joining it, the once-canal swings left, away from the railway and crosses an old aqueduct.
To the left is the other end of the avenue of young trees; to the right, you can look down on the remains of the carriageway that once led to Nynehead Court. The bridge over to the right was built by Brunel to carry the railway over the carriageway. The aqueduct on which you are standing was part of an elaborate feat of engineering, which lifted the canal and its boats up and over the carriageway.
Cross the aqueduct and follow the footpath as it drops downhill. At the bottom of the slope go left to find a notice board, situated beside historic remnants of the canal’s lower pond and lifts, which explains the engineering in fascinating detail. Study the technology then leave the board, walking away from it with the water to your left and passing a tall bench on the right. The path reaches a metal kissing gate opposite Wharf Cottage. Emerge from the path with caution and cross the road, going diagonally left to rejoin the path through a wooden gate beside the cottage.
Walk ahead through the field, boundary to your right, leaving the road behind. You soon pass through a scrubby field boundary. Keep on in the same direction beside the right-hand hedge, passing beneath the electricity wires. Near the end of the field, the path continues in the same line, going beneath trees in the field corner to reach a kissing gate, then continue as before, re-crossing the River Tone. Go through another kissing gate, swiftly followed by yet another. Walk through the next field, still beside the right-hand hedge, towards small sewage works. Pass this works on your left and go through the gate just beyond it.
(4) After the gate turn left, leaving the West Deane Way and now following the left-hand hedge towards red-brick houses at the far end of the field. The path becomes surfaced and soon reaches the houses and the lane. Pause to look behind you; these houses enjoy splendid views.(D/A)
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 200ft - Nynehead Memorial Hall
1 : mi 0.45 - alt. 167ft - Gateway
2 : mi 0.95 - alt. 161ft - Bend
3 : mi 1.57 - alt. 164ft - Old aqueduct
4 : mi 2.08 - alt. 141ft - Gate
D/A : mi 2.41 - alt. 203ft - Nynehead Memorial Hall
The nearby town of Wellington has plenty of pubs and cafes. The nearby Wellington monument is also worth a visit.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
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