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Kilve and the Coast Path

There are currently 1 comments and 4 photos online for this walk.

Kilve and the Coast Path
Author: Claire, Published: 19 Aug 2017 Walk Rating:star1 Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide star1 Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide star1 Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide star1 Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide star1 Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide
Somerset, Quantock Hills
Walk Type: Coastal
Kilve and the Coast Path
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide boot Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide
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A circular walk of just over 3 miles, from the small village of Kilve in the Quantock Hills in Somerset. The walking route explores a beautiful section of the north Somerset coast, with glorious views across the Bristol Channel and chance to explore the beaches which are rich in fossils. Turning inland, the route leads you through the charming village of East Quantoxhead, a reminder of times gone by with its stone church, manor house, medieval tithe barn, duck pond and old mill house. Towards the end of the walk you will pass the ruins of Kilve Chantry, which dates from the 1300s.

The walk includes several moderate gradients throughout and the coastal path is very exposed. Whilst the cliff-top path used for this walk is accessible even at high tide, if you want to explore any of the beaches you might want to time your walk to coincide with mid-low tide. There are no stiles on route, but you will need to negotiate several kissing gates, plus several pedestrian gates that are set within farm gates (the design of these means that you will need to step over a base bar – in some cases up to 30cm high). Most of the route is enclosed away from pastures, but you will need to cross two pastures that are sometimes holding cattle and one that is sometimes holding sheep. You will need to cross two streams, one via a sleeper bridge but the other has no bridge so you will need to pick your way over using the raised bricks laid on the stream bed. Allow 1.5 hours.

The village of Kilve is located on the A39, between Bridgwater and Minehead in West Somerset. The walk starts and finishes from the pay and display beach car park, about a mile north of the village itself. The fee is £1.50 for 2 hours (correct Aug 2017). From the crossroads at the centre of Kilve, turn north onto Sea Lane. Follow this narrow road between houses and passing the church. Just before you reach some ruins, you will see a pay and display machine. Stop here temporarily to buy your parking ticket, and then drive further north to find the long beach car park on your left. Approximate post code TA5 1EG (from where you need to travel further north along Sea Lane).

Walk Sections

Start to Quantock's Head
Start to Quantock's Head

Start point: 51.191 lat, -3.2247 long
End point: 51.1894 lat, -3.2413 long

Walk to the far (northern) end of the beach car park (away from the access lane entrance) where you will find the cricket pitch on your right and a signed fork in the track. Here you will see a red brick building in the centre of the fork, a former oil retort (an industrial-scale distillation plant for extracting shale oil). The process of heating shale oil to produce shale oil, oil shale gas and spent shale is known as retorting. Along this coast the cliffs are layered with compressed strata of oil-bearing shale and blue, yellow and brown lias embedded with fossils. In 1924 Dr Forbes-Leslie founded the Shaline Company to exploit them. This retort house is thought to be the first structure erected here for that purpose, but the company was unable to raise sufficient capital and this is now all that remains of the anticipated Somerset oil boom.

Take the left-hand path at this fork, signed to East Quantoxhead and part of the England Coast Path. Follow the path through the kissing gate and over a concrete bridge, then stay directly ahead on the tarmac path climbing steadily and following the line of the fence on your left. Soon, the first sea views will open up beyond the grass field on your right. On a clear day, you will be able to clearly see Flat Holm Island within the Bristol Channel. At the top of the tarmac slope, go through the wooden gate (don’t worry about the high tide warnings here – we are not walking that far) to continue on the stone path between scrub. When the scrub ends, stay with the grass coastal path ahead, with fenced fields to your left, the cliff edge to your right and beautiful coastal views across Exmoor ahead.

Across to your left (at about 10 o’clock) you will see a large stone mansion, Court House (more about that later…). As you draw level with Court House, you are forced to turn inland. Ignore the steps down to the beach (unless you want to explore for a while), and continue to reach a fingerpost. Turn right here (signed for the England Coast Path and Doniford), down the grass bank and passing a ruined limekiln on your right, dating from around 1770. This inlet once housed a small port which imported limestone and exported alabaster. The path swings right approaching the sea once again. As you reach the cliffs, turn left through the kissing gate and follow the coastal path as it climbs steadily uphill to the top of the obvious headland known as Quantock’s Head.

Quantock's Head to Country Lane
Quantock's Head to Country Lane

Start point: 51.1894 lat, -3.2413 long
End point: 51.1819 lat, -3.2418 long

Continue along the coastal path. Further along, pass through a kissing gate to reach a three-way fingerpost. At this point we leave the coastal path so turn left onto the permissive path, signed to East Quantoxhead. Pass through the small metal gate set within the farm gate and walk straight ahead on the wide grass track, with a hedgerow to your left and a rolling crop field to your right.

Pass through the next gateway (or kissing gate alongside) to enter a large hillside grass pasture (which may be holding cattle). Keep straight ahead, following the left-hand field boundary. Pass through the next gateway and maintain your direction, along the left-hand edge of this third field (another grass pasture). In the far corner of this field, pass through the kissing gate to reach a junction with a stone track.

Turn left to join this, a stone and dirt track with a grass centre and tall hedgerows each side which leads you steadily downhill. Continue for around 400 metres to reach the point where the track ends and meets a quiet country lane.

Country Lane to East Quantoxhead Church
Country Lane to East Quantoxhead Church

Start point: 51.1819 lat, -3.2418 long
End point: 51.1854 lat, -3.2372 long

Bear left to follow this country lane, taking care of any occasional traffic. Continue until the hedgerow on your left ends, where you will see two metal field gates on your left. You will notice a pedestrian gate set within the second of these, along with a footpath waymarker sign. Turn left through this pedestrian gate to enter a pasture (which may be holding sheep or cattle).

With your back to the gate, walk diagonally right across the pasture, heading for the stone church visible on the horizon. As you approach the gate at the far side you will see a stream running along the edge of the field. Pick your way over this stream (using the bricks to save your feet getting too wet) and go through the gate (another pedestrian gate set within a field gate) to enter a grass meadow. Walk at about 1 o’clock, heading for the end of the barn’s red roof (just to the right of the church). Just before the barn you will reach a junction with a narrow tarmac path. The path to your right is the way the route continues soon, but first turn left along the tarmac path to reach the church.

The church is well worth exploring and also makes the perfect spot to explore the history of the East Quantoxhead manor. The manor was granted to Ralph Pagnall after the Norman Conquest, passing down through generations to the Luttrells. No part of the estate has been sold since its grant around 1070 and is still owned by the descendants of the Pagnall and Luttrell families. The manor house, known as Court House, includes a medieval tower although most parts date to the 1620s. The 5 acre gardens include 3 acres of woodland plus landscaped grounds, herbaceous borders and a traditional kitchen garden. The old (possibly Saxon) preaching cross in the churchyard is a viewpoint for the manor house. It also looks on to the back of Quantoxhead Farm, where the semi-circular wing is a horse-gang. This once housed a capstan where horses walked in circles to power, via an endless belt, farm machinery in the main building. The church itself has fossils incorporated into the walls, and Tudor-carved pew ends.

East Quantoxhead Church to Kilve Church
East Quantoxhead Church to Kilve Church

Start point: 51.1854 lat, -3.2372 long
End point: 51.1882 lat, -3.2226 long

When you have finished at the church, retrace your steps back along the narrow tarmac path which swings left, passing the remains of a kissing gate. The path passes the beautiful old barns on your left and crosses a small green (which acts as a car park) and emerges through a stone wall to reach a junction with the village road. On your left you will see the grand stone pillar-entrance for the Court House, and directly ahead is the beautiful raised village duck pond (once a mill pond).

Turn right along the lane for just 25 metres (to reach the end of the duck pond) and then turn sharp left to join the stone track. You will pass a public footpath waymarker on your right and then a thatched cottage on your left (an old mill house which dates from 1725). Beyond the buildings, simply stay with the stone track with a pretty stream running on your left. The track soon bears left to continue with the stream on your right. At the end of the track you will see a three-way fingerpost on your right. Ignore the left turn signed to the beach, instead go straight ahead signed to Kilve Church, passing through a kissing gate to enter a crop field.

Keep directly ahead along the grass verge with a hedgerow on your right and an open crop field and sea views to your left. Ignore the tracks into the woodland on your right, instead stay on the fieldside grass verge, with the woodland on your right. At the end of the woodland, go through the gate ahead and go straight on, on the track between crop fields. Stay with this track, passing through a further gateway and crossing a stream (via a small sleeper bridge). Just beyond this stream crossing, look for a fingerpost on your right. Turn right here and follow the short grass path which leads you (via a gate) into the churchyard of Kilve Church.

Kilve Church to End
Kilve Church to End

Start point: 51.1882 lat, -3.2226 long
End point: 51.1911 lat, -3.2248 long

Follow the tarmac path passing the church on your left, and emerging via the lychgate to reach Sea Lane. Turn left to join the lane and follow it as it bears right to pass the parking machine and then the ruins of Kilve Chantry on your left. You may notice the square grid of the dovecote is still occupied.

Kilve Chantry was founded in 1329, when a brotherhood of five monks was employed to say Mass for their founder, Simon de Furneaux. The chantry seems to have fallen into ruin before the official dissolution of the monasteries, and for centuries the building was used as a barn for the adjacent farm and by smugglers. It suffered a major fire in 1848, perhaps fuelled by the smuggler’s alcohol. Today it is a listed building, but is in a very poor state and sits high on the risk register for English Heritage.

Simply continue ahead on the access lane to reach the beach car park on your left where the walk began. If you have time (and the tide is low), you may want to head to Kilve Beach to explore the fossils.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 comments for "Kilve and the Coast Path"

Lovely little walk with lots of interest. I stopped off to do this walk & stretch my legs on my way from Wales to Devon & it was perfect. Kilve beach is remarkable & well worth a visit.

By Joseth on 30 Oct 2017

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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4 gallery images for "Kilve and the Coast Path"

8835_0Richard1503150720 Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 19 Aug 2017
The retort house at the start of the walk.
8835_1Richard1503150726 Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 19 Aug 2017
The beautiful coastal views across Exmoor ahead.
8835_0Joseth1509347996 Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide Image by: Joseth
Uploaded: 30 Oct 2017
Taken as I turned inland
8835_0Joseth1509348207 Kilve and the Coast Path Walking Guide Image by: Joseth
Uploaded: 30 Oct 2017
Church at the end of the walk

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