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This Week's Walks - Archive

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This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Saturday Walk - Bruton Circular or from Castle Cary (via Hauser & Wirth Somerset) [New Walk] [Early Start] [Long Journey]

New Walk, we'll take the opportunity to check the walk directions.

Length: 25.1 km (15.7 mi) [longer and shorter walks possible, see pdf for details]
Ascent/Descent: 472m; Net Walking Time: 6 ½ hours
Toughness:  8/10       

Another walk far away, with advantages for early bookers (Advance Ticket Prices at time of posting are as quoted below). Start either from Bruton (longer journey with some waiting time in Westbury [but with a decent waiting room with hot drinks]) or from Castle Cary (this makes for a longer walk, but you’ll probably meet the Bruton starters along the way due to the earlier start).

Take the 08.35 Paignton train from Paddington (09.03 Reading), change at Westbury (arr. 09.56, dep. 10.37) to arrive Bruton 10.58 (£20.00) or stay on the train past Westbury to arrive Castle Cary 10.16 (£16.50).

Return trains from Bruton (which is a very nice place to while away some time):
18.02 via Castle Cary (46 mins wait, 500m to a pub), dep. CC 18.53, arr. Paddington 20.37; £20.00.
19.01 via Castle Cary (41 mins wait, 500m to a pub), dep. CC 19.47, arr. Paddington
21.36; £20.00.
19.40 via Westbury (16 mins wait) and Swindon (8 mins wait), arr. Paddington
22.23; £20.00. 
21.29 via Bath Spa (22 mins wait), arr. Paddington 00.33; £16.50.       

This excursion is centred on the remote Somerset town of Bruton, with its honey-coloured stone-built cottages, a large dovecote on a mound overlooking the townscape and a fine selection of lunch and tea options. It leads through a scenic South Somerset landscape of narrow steep-sided valleys and coombes with some fast flowing streams and rivers, with the route dipping in and out of the Brue, Alham and Pitt valleys. From the rolling hilltops you get some far views across to the range forming the boundary with Wiltshire and Dorset, with the local landmark Alfred’s Tower, a folly, on top of it.
The route leads close to the renowned art gallery Hauser & Wirth Somerset, and a short version of the walk (16.2 km/10.1 mi, rated 3/10) leaves enough time for an extended visit to it and/or its fascinating bar and restaurant (exhibition at time of walk: Rashid Johnson).
The recommended lunch stop on the main walk is a fine country inn in Batcombe.
A start from Castle Cary (with faster and more frequent trains) adds about 50 minutes of walking. 

Lunch: The Three Horseshoes Inn (8.9 km/5.5 mi) on the full walk, and any of four choices in Bruton (7.1 km/4.4 mi, see pdf for details) and the Roth Bar & Grill  at Hauser & Wirth (8.0 km/5.0 mi) on the short walk (pre-booking recommended at the Roth). Tea/Dinner: Roth Bar & Grill (as above), Cole Manor Tea Rooms in Cole hamlet (2.6 km from the end), or The Godminster Farm Shop near the station or any of five choices in Bruton (see pdf for details). 
For summary, route map, height profile, photos, walk directions  and gpx/kml files click here.T=swc.284


Thomas G said...

Travel booked: out 08.35 to Castle Cary, rtn 21.29 via Bath. Plan is to walk the pre-lunch extension (currently only map-led), with the view of taking notes for a write-up.

PeteG said...

There is a special offer on GWR for 50% off with Senior and 16-25 railcards, which I've booked getting the trip for £9.75 out & £8.05 return. It doesn't happen automatically, you need to book via or The website said there weren't many tickets left at that price

Mike said...

I've also booked for this one, starting at Castle Cary (on my birthday!) but I don't plan to do the Northern extension. For those planning to return to Castle Cary the Macmillan Way offers an alternative route from about the point marked **** in the text.

Thomas G said...

A couple of tables have been booked up for dinner in Bruton, one at 6, one at 7.

DAC said...

Intend going.

Thomas G said...

After a quick walk up and down the train, it became clear that 10 walkers would start from Castle Cary for a potentially 29 km-walk (despite the heat) and only 3 from Bruton, which together with 1 other who had already spent 2 nights in Bruton and started the walk a little ahead of everyone else, and 1 other that had missed the train by a fraction to start 2 hours behind, makes for n=15 in w=very-hot weather. 8 would stay on for dinner and take the later trains at 19.40 and 21.29 resp., so dinner bookings were adjusted accordingly and off we went.
It was hot from the word go, without much of a breeze apart from a few short stretches on ridges and tops, so this proved to be a very tough outing for all. Beautiful lush scenerey, lots of coombes and tight valleys, streams and rivers, far views and hardly a soul in sight. Plenty of working farms: proper countryside. Very plesant, everyone seemed to enjoy the experience and think that it was worth the long journey.
The vegetation is somewhat further down the growth curve out there in the West Country than in the South East, cue overgrown paths, nettles, brambles and high grass paths. As said above, a tough day indeed. The next posting should maybe be a little earlier in the year...
We caught the Bruton starters just before lunch in Batcombe at the Three Horseshoes, which was pleasant if not exceptional.
We then bumped into the 2 hours behind-starter just before getting back to Bruton in the early afternoon and lost several walkers to succumbing to the heat and an early finish in Bruton (some went paddling in the Brue River, apparently).
8 continued with the southerly afternoon loop, utilising the afternoon shortcut to cut out the last ridge, and the diners amongst us re-united with the dining early finishers for supper at The Roth Bar & Grill at Hauser & Wirth. Exceptional surroundings, exceptional food, and after we had to vacate the table at 20.00 for the next booking, the 21.29 train-takers decamped to another table in the courtyard for affogatos and some more wine.
Then we were at the mercy of GWR performing (at least broadly) to schedule, as we only had a 22 minutes cushion for the change at Bath to the last London-bound train of the day. That was comfortably missed, and GWR had to sponsor a mini-bus taxi all the way to London. We got back about an hour after plan.
The longest SWC-Daytrip ever?

Graham and Rose said...

A superb day out. The heat made the walk tough going at times but the rewards were well worth the effort required and the longer journey. This walk offers a a slice of rural England at its very best. Plenty of challenge with some ascent and overgrown footpaths but beautiful views. Many points of interest along way, one being if starting at Castle Cary a visit to Wyke Champflower Church early on in the walk.

Post walk we enjoyed fabulous food at the Roth bar and Grill. Although initially shown to Guy Thomas's table, this misunderstanding was soon resolved! The food was a delight. Mention should also be made of the horseradish vodka enjoyed at the Godminster farm shop.

This is a great walk in great company and perfect for a summer outing A huge thanks to Thomas for putting together a thoroughly enjoyable day.