Walking with Wordsworth - Walk Number Two
We start this romantic ramble (which is eight and a half miles in length) on the beach road from Kilve, which is a pleasant drive from us along the A39. Use the OS 1:25,000 Explorer 22 Map 'Quantock Hills and Bridgwater'.
Dorothy Wordsworth lived in the area in the late 1790s with her brother and poet William and the pair spent most of their time walking with fellow poet Coleridge, who also lived nearby.
Travelling along the A39 its possible to stop off and see Coleridge's cottage in Nether Stowey, which is now owned and run by the National Trust. Be sure to check out the opening times before making a special trip.
Kilve was a special place for the Wordsworths and as William wrote after they had left the area and they were living in the Lake District:
"My thoughts on former pleasures ran; I thought of Kilve's delightful shore, Our pleasant house when spring began, A long, long year before."
Park up in the village car park at Kilve or at the beach car park, which are both clearly signposted from the A39.
On the beach at Kilve there's the opportunity to find curled fossils among the pebbles and to admire the vast views from Exmoor across to Wales. In the channel are the islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm, which look like huge stepping stones from one shore to another.
Go through the gate to left of Old Retort House. In half a mile, the path turns inland and at the T-junction of paths (138436), go right. Cross into the car park and follow path in the far-right hand corner, with Court House (137437) on your right.
Court House has been in the Luttrells family since the reign of King John. The present Court House looks as if parts were around in the early Middle Ages too.
From here, opposite the church, go through the gate in the left-hand corner of the field and head for Court Farm. Cross the lane, following the yellow arrow, go across the next field to stile into the lane (133431). Go left and cross the A39 (133428) and follow the bridleway, marked with a blue arrow, and up the track signposted Beacon Hill/Bicknoller Post before crossing the fields into Smith's Combe (132423), which feels like the very top of the Quantocks.
As William Wordsworth, in The Prelude said of his and his sisters walks with Coleridge: "Upon smooth Quantock's airy ridge we roved Unchecked, or loitered 'mid her sylvan combs..."
Here there are streams to cross as you follow the combe. Then there's forestry to skirt before crossing the open moor. Before Bicknoller Post turn left (127406) on to The Great Road, an ancient drove way with wonderful views.
Follow down Gut Combe, passing Alfoxton Park (148414). This vast, handsome house was home to William and Dorothy during the time they lived in the area. After this, and once in the wooded area of the drive, take a path on the left (155412 - yellow arrow) over a stile to cross the combe on the footbridge and on to the road. Here in this wooded combe, William and Dorothy often walked and he composed his prose.
Go past Holford Church to the A39 and the Plough Pub (158413). Go left up the lane behind Plough and in 100yds go right through gate (marked with a blue arrow) and along field edge.
Go through more trees and across fields following more blue arrows into a sunken lane (156423). Turn right to the A39. Take care here. Walk along to Hilltop Lane. After two-thirds of a mile, you'll pass Wyndham's Farm and after this there is a bridleway signposted Kilve.