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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

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Sunday Walk - Bruton (Somerset) Circular via Stourhead [Third Update 18/04/20: walk now cancelled]

Covid-19 Pandemic:

Third Update 18/04/20 
As the UK lockdown has now been extended until 7 May at least, this walk has now been cancelled, but it will be my first candidate for a Sunday posting once access to the countryside is open again. As mentioned below, train tickets booked before 23 March will be fully reimbursed by GWR, check here:
Second Update 06/04/20
As this walk – unlike the long weekend or week-long trips to Wales or Scotland – does not involve accommodation, I’ll wait until closer to the scheduled walk date to decide whether to postpone it to a date a few weeks or months down the line. Great Western Railway meanwhile have enabled cost-free changes or even cancellations of existing bookings, incl. Advance Tickets booked before 23 March. For details see here:

Update 20/03/20 
If you have booked Advance train tickets for this walk: Great Western Railway have today relaxed their rules and are now saying "You can also amend Advance tickets to an alternative future date without having to pay an admin fee". A re-scheduling of this walk to a later date would therefore be an option, should government advice nearer the time suggest that restrictions on movements will be relaxed later in the year.


Length: 22.7 km (14.1 mi) [Longer Walks possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 456m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ½ hours, Toughness: 7 out of 10

Take the 08.51 Plymouth train from Paddington (Reading 09.15), change Westbury onto the Weymouth train (10.03/10.21), arrives Bruton 10.44.
From Ealing B’way there is the 08.35 to Reading with a tight connection (09.11/09.15) or the earlier 08.11 train, but it’s probably best to go via P’ton (08.23-08.35)?

Return trains:
17.18 – change Bath Spa (18.03/18.13), arrives Paddington 19.39;
19.11 – change Westbury (19.32/19.54), arrives Paddington 21.10;
21.16 – change Westbury (21.38/21.58), arrives Paddington 23.35.

Buy a Bruton (Somerset) return. Cheap Advance Tickets are not yet on sale though.
Note: Bruton is outside the Network Southeast, so Network Railcard users should buy a discounted Reading Return with the Railcard, and a separate Reading – Bruton Day Return.

This excursion is centred on the small 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 tea options. It leads along the vigorous River Brue and through bucolic pastures up to the wooded range forming the boundary between Wiltshire and Somerset, with the dominant local landmark Alfred’s Tower, a folly, on top of it. From there you drop down through enchanting woods to the heart of the Stourhead Estate at the source of the River Stour, with its breath-taking 18th century landscaped garden with lakeside walks, grottoes and classical temples (National Trust, ticketed entry, although large parts of the garden and most notable buildings are visible from the walk route).
After lunch at the estate pub or an NT restaurant you circle back past the large Palladian mansion with views, then through a U-shaped grassy valley (by the source of the river Stour) and up through hanging woods to continue high above the Brue Valley with fine far views across the South Somerset landscape.
Towards the end the route passes the renowned art gallery
Hauser & Wirth Somerset with its fascinating bar and restaurant and an optional loop routes up to Bruton’s dovecote and through town.
The main exhibition at Hauser on the day of the walk (closes at 17.00) is: Don McCullin – The Stillness of Life

Walk Options:
An out-and-back to the Bronze Age Bell Barrow site Jack’s Castle adds 550m.
A loop through the wooded Park Hill via its Iron Age hillfort site adds 900m.
A mid-afternoon loop through Walk Farm Hay Meadows, currently map-led, adds 1.6 km.
A loop at the end up to Bruton’s dovecote and through town past most tea places adds 1.5 km.

Lunch: The Spread Eagle Inn (11.0 km/6.8 mi, food to 16.00) or The Stourhead Estate Restaurant (11.4 km/7.1 mi, food to 15.00), both on the Stourhead Estate.
Tea: Plenty options, including a Hauser & Wirth-managed pub just off route, 4.5 km from the end. See the webpage or the pdf for details.

For walk directions, maps, height profiles, photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.342

This slot swapped with Stargazer who had swapped with Mr. M Tiger, ultimately against my slot on 26 April… (are you keeping up?)

1 comment:

pia rainey said...

Be careful when you are buying rail tickets now and try to change dates on existing advance singles as part of a return ticket. I had bought a return with two different tickets: one off peak single [out for £50] and one advance single [return for £35] to Glasgow and back for a now cancelled HF holiday. The off peak single is refundable but the advance single is not. You cannot change this combined ticket online so have to ring. Also, if you cancel one ticket, they will cancel both, so you are left with nothing.

It started with being no 98 on the waiting list. It then proceeded even stranger once I spoke to an operator. He said he could refund me the the advance single , since I was such a good customer, provided I bought another off peak refundable single for a min of £22 but he would/could not say how much. He was then going to refund all three tickets (the off peak single at £50, the advance single at 335 and the newly bought off peak single for an unknown price. I said I did not trust it (implying him) and gracefully thanked him for the offer. I wonder wether he was being honest and super helpful or running a scam on the back of In the end I took my refund for the off peak single of £50 and cut my loss on advance single of £35. Even changing the date on that one to a May date would hardly be helpful because single tickets tend to be as expensive as returns with no special deals. I am also not sure if the SWC is running in May so it seems better to start a new return all over with a totally refundable fare rather than a non-refundable one.
A cautionary tale.