Section One - Nether Stowey to Monksilver - The Coleridge Way
14.5 miles - Moderate Grade - what this grade means
Read about Nether Stowey accommodation and the first night stay before starting The Coleridge Way Walk
The Coleridge Way starts at the doorstep of the Poets home, Coleridge Cottage. Now run by the National Trust and open to visitors, it makes a fitting start for your adventure. From the peaceful village of Nether Stowey, the route climbs past the impressive remains of the lost 11th century Stowey Castle, built by Alfred of Spain for the Lord of the Manor. The Motte and Bailey Castle was destroyed in the 15th century after its Lord was beheaded for treason. Its legacy however, remains, in the dramatic views from its earthworks over the Bristol Channel to Steepholm Island, inland as far as Glastonbury Tor and North to the Brecon Beacons and the distant shores of Wales.
You then begin a steady climb through the Quantock Hills using sunken bridleways, past the haunting site of Walfords Gibbett – where Walford (the local Charcoal Burner) murdered his wife, was caught and hung, and left swinging in a cage for 1 year and 1 day here at the entrance to the great forest on the spot where he committed his terrible crime.
The Coleridge Way traverses below the large Iron Age hill fort at Dowsborough, running through peaceful ancient woodland and plantations before emerging onto the open moorland of the Quantocks themselves. The views as you pass the large cairn on the top of Woodlands Hill are already stupendous, stretching as far as The Bristol Mendips.
A steep tree covered descent brings you back to the pretty village of Holford, with its tranquil thatched cottages built for the workers in the old Huguenot silk factory, a place to pause and to visit the village inn and church if you wish.
Entering rich parkland on the Alfoxton Estate, look for herds of deer here and the gruesome 18th Century crested dog pound, built to contain the area’s stray animals after the local huntsman was attacked and killed by dogs. Before your next climb you pass the cottage where William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived, and Coleridge was their regular visitor.
The next few miles are superb walking along the northern ridge of the Quantocks. The Coleridge Way takes you through a delightful array of bracken, heather, steep gorges and peaceful woods. On one side there is the edge of the moor above you, and on your other a beautiful patchwork of rolling countryside slipping away to the sea below – welcome to The Quantock Greenway.
You eventually reach West Quantoxhead on a glorious leafy carriageway, high on a wooded escarpment, with your views now westward towards Minehead and the start of the South West Coast Path. Check out the welcoming Windmill Inn, the impressive St Audries Church and former smugglers houses at Robbers Roast.
Those walking the Coleridge Way on a very relaxed schedule can choose to halt here, staying by the church on the edge of the Quantock Hills for the night.
CLICK HERE to read about an overnight stay at West Quantoxhead on the Coleridge Way after 8 miles
From this point those Quantocks loom above you again as you now turn to traverse the Western edge of the moor, crossing the mouth of hidden coombes and valleys, spotting deer and buzzard high above you before dropping to the timeless little thatched village of Bicknoller with its welcoming Inn.
Easy walking now through rich pastoral scenery between the Quantock and Brendon Hills, first crossing the West Somerset Steam Railway route on your way to the appealing village of Sampford Brett (Sandy Ford) with its 13th Century Church of St George. Here you have the option to overight at nearby Williton, where you will deviate off the trail for around 1 mile following the Macmillan Way West trail past an old river mill and through lush meadows into the small town where overnight accommodation and good facilites exist.
CLICK HERE to read about an overnight stay at Williton on the Coleridge Way after 11 miles
Back on the Coleridge Way and, beyond Sampford Brett, you enter a lovely hidden wooded valley which twists en-route to the Elizabethan Manor House at Aller Farm. To reach it you must cross a wooden footbridge where you will be asked to transport 1p to the other side... to keep the tree spirits appeased!
The Coleridge Way finally climbs into a superb section of ancient and impressively deep droves and sunken trailways. The final trackway at Combercross Lane, hewn from the rocks and fringed by a twisted and contorted tunnel of trees, leads towards your overnight accommodation at the village of Monksilver, which sits in as peaceful position below the first of the wooded Brendon Hills.
Click Here to read about overnight stops at the village of Monksilver right on the Coleridge Way route.
Or Click Here to read about the larger village of Stogumber as an alternative option you can consider 1 mile off the path at this point.