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Shipham and Dolebury Warren

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Shipham and Dolebury Warren
Author: Claire, Published: 24 Apr 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Shipham and Dolebury Warren, Somerset Walking Guidestar1 Shipham and Dolebury Warren, Somerset Walking Guidestar1 Shipham and Dolebury Warren, Somerset Walking Guidestar1 Shipham and Dolebury Warren, Somerset Walking Guidestar1 Shipham and Dolebury Warren, Somerset Walking Guide
Somerset, Mendip Hills
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Shipham and Dolebury Warren
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot Shipham and Dolebury Warren, Somerset Walking Guide boot Shipham and Dolebury Warren, Somerset Walking Guide boot Shipham and Dolebury Warren, Somerset Walking Guide
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A 5.5 mile circular walk from the village of Shipham in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. The walk heads east to reach the pretty woodland of Rowberrow Warren, where you will follow a beautiful rocky stream along the valley bottom. Climbing high into the heart of the woodland the walk then takes you through the idyllic chalk grassland of Dolebury Warren and up to the old Iron Age hill fort. From this vantage point you will have panoramic views, including the Bristol Channel and the Welsh Coast on clear days.

The walk includes several climbs and descents throughout, including some steep sections. The paths are a mixture of woodlands paths, grassland paths, farm tracks and tree-lined bridleways. Some stretches are quite rocky underfoot and a few parts can be muddy at times, so good boots are a must. You will need to negotiate a stream ford crossing (which is usually shallow enough for normal walking boots), a kissing gate, a simple gate plus four stiles. One stile has a dedicated dog gate and the other three have fence gaps suitable for medium-large dogs to pass through (our standard poodle managed just fine). There are a couple of crossings of the A38 road that need care – the road can be busy, but visibility is good. Whilst the route does not cross any farm pastures, cattle or sheep are sometimes present on the chalk grassland of Dolebury Warren as part of the National Trust’s conservation grazing. Dogs are welcome on the whole route but please follow local signage for which areas they should be on a lead. Allow 3 hours.

If you are looking for refreshments, Shipham village has a pub, a community cafe (with profits going to charity) and a village shop.

Shipham is located on the western edge of the Mendip Hills, about 15 miles south of Bristol. The walk starts and finishes at the war memorial on the green in the centre of the village. If you are coming by public transport, there is a bus stop in the centre of the village. If you are coming by car, there is roadside parking along several of the central streets, including Hollow Road, but please park with respect for residents. Approximate post code BS25 1TW.

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Walk Sections

Start to Stream Junction
Start to Stream Junction

Start point: 51.3142 lat, -2.7986 long
End point: 51.3125 lat, -2.7798 long

The walk starts from the war memorial on the village green in the centre of Shipham. Follow the pavement of Hollow Road (signed as part of the Limestone Link) leading you uphill, passing the community cafe on your right. At the top of the slope, where the main road bends left, fork right into Barn Pool. At the end of Barn Pool you will reach a T-junction with a grass triangle. Turn right to join Lippiatt Lane, marked as a no through road.

After passing between houses, keep ahead on the tarmac track marked as a public bridleway. At the end of the tarmac track you will come to a junction of tracks. Do NOT take any of the vehicle tracks, instead take the public bridleway at about 1 o’clock, leading you just to the left of a Rowberrow Warren forestry sign. The bridleway leads you steadily downhill with steep woodland banks each side. At the bottom of the slope you will come to a path junction, with a fenced Bristol Waterworks underground reservoir ahead and a stream visible to your left. (The ford here is an ideal spot for a doggie paddle on a hot day).

Stream Junction to Ford Crossing
Stream Junction to Ford Crossing

Start point: 51.3125 lat, -2.7798 long
End point: 51.3203 lat, -2.7854 long

Do NOT cross the stream, instead turn sharp left to follow the public bridleway signed to Rowberrow, with the stream running on your right. Stay on this bridleway path, always keeping the stream on your right. Further along, you will reach a path fork with a single property on your right. This house is part of the small village of Rowberrow. The village is most famous as being home to the author Terry Pratchett for more than 20 years from 1970.

Take the right-hand branch at this fork, still with the stream immediately on your right. Keep ahead past another few properties and, after passing the large, circular, timber-clad, modern house on your right, you will come to a fork. Do NOT take the tarmac lane leading uphill, instead take the right-hand branch for just a few paces to reach another choice of paths. Turn right here, crossing the stream via the ford (the water is normally shallow enough for walking boots to suffice!) and passing alongside a vehicle barrier to reach another Rowberrow Warren forestry sign on your right.

Ford Crossing to Dolebury Warren Gate
Ford Crossing to Dolebury Warren Gate

Start point: 51.3203 lat, -2.7854 long
End point: 51.3243 lat, -2.7686 long

Follow this stone vehicle track leading you steadily uphill, passing another cottage down to your left. At the top of the first climb, the track swings hard right to reach the next track junction. Take the left-hand of the two options, following the woodland track with a fenced grass pasture on your right. After passing this pasture, stay on the main stone which swings right to reach another junction.

Turn right (uphill) for about 25 metres and then turn left onto the stone side path (another stretch of public bridleway). The bridleway climbs steadily along a high ridge within the woodland, with a steep wooded valley to your left. After about 400 metres you will reach a fork. Do NOT continue ahead and uphill on the minor track, instead fork left to stay on the main stone track, with the valley still on your left.

The track leads you gently downhill and swings right to continue with another path and a stone wall running parallel to your left. When you reach a gap in the tree line on your left, dog-leg left then right, to swap to this parallel path, now with the stone wall running just to your left. At the end of the path you will reach a T-junction. Turn left for about 80 metres to reach a field gate and stile on your left, alongside a National Trust sign for Dolebury Warren.

Dolebury Warren Gate to Hill Fort
Dolebury Warren Gate to Hill Fort

Start point: 51.3243 lat, -2.7686 long
End point: 51.3274 lat, -2.7869 long

Cross the stile to enter the grass meadow (there is a dog gate flap within the fence to the right of the gate should you need this). NOTE: This nature reserve is sometimes grazed by sheep or cattle for conservation.

With your back to the field gate, walk straight ahead on the wide grass path staying fairly close to a line of small trees on your left. Dolebury Warren is owned by the National Trust and managed by Avon Wildlife Trust. This hillside is formed from Carboniferous Limestone and is home to rare wildflower grassland. Flowers include harebells and kidney vetch that support the important small blue butterfly.

The path leads you past a fenced area of scrub on your right, to reach a gate and stile ahead. Cross the stile (this has a dog gap within the fence, or the gate may be unlocked) and stay on the obvious wide grass path, still climbing and bearing slightly right. Soon the views will begin to open up ahead. As you reach a small waymarker post, fork right (following the Limestone Link and passing to the right of a tall pine clump).

Just beyond these tall pines, you will reach the next waymarker post. Turn left here on the woodland path lined with hawthorn trees, with the main pine clump to your left. As you emerge into open grassland once again, keep ahead on the obvious path. Pass through the kissing gate ahead and continue on the climb to reach the highest point, the old ramparts of the fort.

Take time to enjoy the views across Somerset and the Severn Estuary and into Wales. This makes the perfect spot to pause, drink in the views and understand the history of the site. Standing on a limestone ridge, Dolebury Warren’s highest point sits at 183 metres above sea level and it covers 22 acres. It was made into a hill fort during the Iron Age (around 500 BC) and was occupied into the Roman period. Somerset has lots of Iron Age forts, although that may simply be because Somerset has plenty of the right sort of hill. These hill forts were not just defensive structures, but small townships. The name Dolebury Warren comes from its use during the medieval period as a rabbit warren, when rabbits were farmed for meat and fur.

Hill Fort to Dinghurst Cottage
Hill Fort to Dinghurst Cottage

Start point: 51.3274 lat, -2.7869 long
End point: 51.3308 lat, -2.7978 long

Keep ahead on one of the paths that lead you steadily downhill through the length of the Iron Age hill fort, taking care of the rocks set within the grass. At the far side, exit via the obvious track in the middle of the ramparts. As you leave the ramparts, follow the obvious main stone path which swings left and then right down through the woodland.

Pass through the small wooden gate ahead and continue downhill on the stone track to reach a T-junction (with Walnut House on your left). Turn right and follow the grass and concrete access lane leading you steeply downhill between houses. You will emerge out to a junction with the A38. Turn left along the pavement for just a few paces and then cross over with care to take the signed public bridleway opposite.

Follow the rocky bridleway leading you uphill through the woodland, once home to Churchill Quarry. Stay on the main stone path which leads you out to a junction with a stone access lane, with the white property Dinghurst Cottage just ahead to your right.

Dinghurst Cottage to End
Dinghurst Cottage to End

Start point: 51.3308 lat, -2.7978 long
End point: 51.3143 lat, -2.7985 long

Turn left to follow the stone access lane leading you uphill, passing a couple of properties on your right and then continuing with fenced fields on your right. Ignore any side paths and simply keep ahead on the main track, leading you over the brow of the hill and then descending between a couple of farms and cottages, to reach another junction with the A38.

Cross over with care and take the signed footpath directly opposite, passing through the wide field gate and walking along the small grass meadow with a hedgerow on your left. At the end of this field, bear left over the stone and metal bar stile (our standard poodle fitted between the metal bars ok) to enter a rough hilly meadow. Turn immediately right (following the hedge on your right) to reach a fence stile (with large fence gaps for dogs). Cross this stile and then turn left to join the stone vehicle track.

Keep ahead as the vehicle track becomes a grass and then stone path. Across to your left you will see a grass hillside with many hollows. These are the remains of mines. Most of the Mendip mines were for lead, but the ones here were for calamine, an ore containing zinc.

Follow this pretty tree-lined bridleway all the way to its end then turn right along a tarmac driveway to reach a junction with a village road. Cross over to the far pavement, turn left to reach the crossroads and then turn right (signed to Cheddar). This pavement leads you directly back to the village green and war memorial where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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1 gallery images for "Shipham and Dolebury Warren"

10520_0Richard1524581410 Shipham and Dolebury Warren, Somerset Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 24 Apr 2018
Lovely stream in the valley.

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