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Winsford and Exe Valley

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Winsford and Exe Valley
Author: Claire, Published: 16 May 2017 Walk Rating:star1 Winsford and Exe Valley Walking Guide star1 Winsford and Exe Valley Walking Guide star1 Winsford and Exe Valley Walking Guide star1 Winsford and Exe Valley Walking Guide star1 Winsford and Exe Valley Walking Guide
Somerset, Exmoor
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Winsford and Exe Valley
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Winsford and Exe Valley Walking Guide boot Winsford and Exe Valley Walking Guide boot Winsford and Exe Valley Walking Guide
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A 5 mile circular walk from the pretty village of Winsford in Exmoor, Somerset. The village gives you the impression of stepping back in time, with lots of thatched cottages, a pretty brook, tea rooms, a pub and an old-fashioned garage. The walking route climbs high along the top of the valley, with superb views, before descending to return alongside the River Exe.

The walk includes several long and steady climbs and descents throughout. The paths are narrow in some parts and there are steep slopes to the sides, so take care with children and dogs. Some stretches can be muddy after rain. There are no stiles on route, but you will need to negotiate some gates and one kissing gate. Almost the entire route is through large hillside pastures which will be holding a mixture of sheep and cattle, so dogs will need to be on leads throughout. The pastures are very large, interconnected and steep in part, so you may not see the livestock on the paths. Allow 2.5 hours.

Winsford is located in the centre of Exmoor National Park, within Somerset, about 5 miles north-west of Dulverton and 10 miles south-west of Minehead. The village has its own car park, directly opposite the garage. Approximate post code TA24 7JE.

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Walk Sections

Start to Top Gate
Start to Top Gate

Start point: 51.1033 lat, -3.5634 long
End point: 51.1088 lat, -3.5769 long

Standing in the village car park, with your back to the road and garage, walk ahead to reach the tea rooms. Turn left for a few metres to reach the crossroads in the village centre, with thatched houses (including the pub) visible ahead and the war memorial just to your right. Many of the properties in the village, including the pub, date from the 1500s. Turn right and cross the ford via the footbridge. It is this ford, across the Winn Brook, that gives the village its name.

Keep ahead to join the quiet country lane, taking care of any traffic as it leads you uphill out of the village. Pass the village church (which is up to your right) and, immediately afterwards, ignore the two footpaths signed to the right. Continue beyond the houses and, just after the national speed limit signs, fork right through a metal gate to join the footpath signed to Exford. NOTE: From this point onwards you will be sharing all the paths with a mixture of sheep and cattle.

Follow this stone and grass path leading you ahead to a fork. Take the left-hand branch (signed to Exford via Bye Common), climbing steadily with a fence on your left. Stay with the path, climbing, with steep slopes and beautiful views across to your right. At the top of this path you will reach a wooden gate ahead.

Top Gate to Bye Common
Top Gate to Bye Common

Start point: 51.1088 lat, -3.5769 long
End point: 51.1104 lat, -3.5918 long

Pass through the gate and turn immediately left to follow the path which climbs sharply for a few metres and then bends right to resume its gentle climb (with a fence running on your left). Part way along this stretch, take a moment to look back over your right shoulder, where you will have beautiful views back to the church and village nestled in the valley bottom.

Pass through the next gate ahead and, following the footpath arrow, turn immediately right through another wooden gate. After this second gate, turn immediately left, following the grass path along the top ridge with the valley sloping steeply down to your right (and wire fencing on your left). From this high vantage point, there are spectacular views across the Exe Valley. Keep your eyes peeled for wild red deer that are often seen on the valley slopes.

Further along, pass through another gate ahead and soon afterwards you will reach a fingerpost marking a path junction. Go straight ahead to join the grass track, a bridleway, which continues to follow this valley top ridge. You will come to a wide gate ahead, alongside a fingerpost. Pass through the gate and follow the grass track ahead (initially with a fence line on your right). Where the fence turns away to your right, simply keep ahead on the grass track which leads you into the middle of the field and then peters out.

Continue on the subtle grass path which now bears right, heading for the top corner of the field. Just before you reach the top corner of this field, you will see a four-way fingerpost in the hedgerow on your left. If you glance to your right here, you will see a very small standing stone within the field. This marks the top of Bye Common.

Bye Common to Riverside
Bye Common to Riverside

Start point: 51.1104 lat, -3.5918 long
End point: 51.113 lat, -3.6059 long

Do NOT continue up to the field corner, instead fork right on the bridleway signed to Nethercote, crossing diagonally over the end of the field to reach a narrow wooden gate. Pass through this and continue directly ahead, soon walking with a fence immediately on your right. This bridleway leads you steadily downhill to reach a farm gate in the bottom corner of this pasture.

Go ahead through this and continue straight on, still following the fence on your right. Pass the cattle drinking trough and, soon afterwards, you will see two metal gates within the fence line on your right. Turn right through the second of these gates and then turn immediately left, to continue with the fence running on your left.

This field boundary merges into a stone and grass track, leading you ahead and steadily downhill. At the bottom of the track, you will come to a staggered T-junction with a rough access lane, with the river ahead.

Riverside to River Bridge
Riverside to River Bridge

Start point: 51.113 lat, -3.6059 long
End point: 51.1147 lat, -3.5805 long

Turn sharp right to join the tarmac and stone access lane. Follow this rough lane, first with the River Exe running immediately on your left, then with a ditch and bank of beech trees on your left and then with the river immediately alongside once again.

The River Exe rises further north, just five miles from the Bristol Channel coast and flows almost directly south down to Exmouth on the south coast. Its name derives from an old term, isca, meaning abundant in fish. The bank of beech trees is a good example of a boundary bank, probably dating from the 1700s. These banks marked boundaries and were also used to line drove roads, to allow sheep to be driven along the tracks without them escaping into the adjacent fields.

Eventually you will come to a cattle gird ahead. Cross this (or use the gate alongside) and continue on the rough vehicle lane. This leads you to a gate for a bridge over the river, with a fingerpost on your left.

River Bridge to End
River Bridge to End

Start point: 51.1147 lat, -3.5805 long
End point: 51.1035 lat, -3.5633 long

Do NOT go through the gate to cross the river, instead turn right through the wooden kissing gate to join the footpath signed to Winsford. Follow the grass path through a rough grass meadow, with the river still running on your left. At the end of this first meadow, keep ahead on the stone path which begins to climb gradually before descending into a second meadow. At the far end, once again the path narrows to become a stone riverside path which leads you to a wide wooden gate.

Pass through this and walk ahead into a third riverside meadow (probably holding sheep). Part way along, ignore the wooden footbridge to your left, instead fork right (about 1 o’clock) to join the grass and the stone track which climbs steadily. The track undulates ahead, passes through an open gateway and crosses an open hillside pasture, before climbing to reach a junction of paths that you used on the outward leg.

From this point, we will be retracing our steps back to the village. Go straight ahead on the track signed to Winsford. Pass through the gate to reach the road. Turn left along the road, taking care of any traffic and following it downhill. At the bottom, cross the ford via the footbridge to reach the village centre where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 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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