Thursday, 16 April 2009
Shipham and Dolbury Hill
In Somerset for the day with just enough free time for this short (4.25 miles), but quite strenuous walk. The walk begins in the Square of the former zinc- and lead-mining village of Shipham, appropriately enough facing the Miners Arms.
You walk uphill away from the pub and eventually reach the entrance to Rowberrow Warren, after descending for a short while you turn sharp left and walk along by a stream in a valley. This valley - Rowberrow Bottom - extends downhill all the way to the base of Dolbury Hill.
After the open area shown above, the route becomes wooded. There has been a lot of tree felling here since I was last here and there is a now a wide swath of mud on the opposite bank of the stream - one might almost think that a new road was coming through.
After passing some cottages and a long field with two horses, the route swings right to begin the ascent of Dolbury Hill, initially through woodland with the aid of wooden steps.
You then emerge into open ground, with the bare hillside initially to the left.
The route follows the edge of the hill and now you can look back along the length of Rowberrow Bottom - the horses can just be seen at the bottom of the long field.
At the top of the hill there was once a iron age hill fort and the remains of defensive earthworks can clearly be seen.
There is also a splendid view down to Rowberrow Manor and the Church of St Michael and All Angels. (The church is of 14th century origin, but as is so often the case, what you see today is the result of 19th rebuilding.)
The descent through woodland brings you down to the A38. You cross this and a short steep path takes you up to join a track running more or less parallel to the road - this was once upon a time the main road to Bristol. This track climbs and then descends to join the A38 again at Star.
You cross the road and follow a side road with a row of old miners cottages which soon turns into a track in a steep sided valley which leads back to Shipham.
Known locally as Daffodil Valley, this track provides a delightful end to the walk - and although I didn't see any daffodils, there were plenty of primroses, wood anemones, yellow celandine and bluebells.
Arriving back at Shipham, I realised that apart from a short distance along Rowberrow Bottom and again along the edge of Dolbury Hill, the whole of this walk involves either ascent or descent.
From: More Mendip walks by Sue Gearing (Halsgrove).
Map: Explorer 141 (Cheddar Gorge and Mendip Hills West).
Rating: four stars. Wonderful views from Dolbury Hill and two delightful valleys to boot.