Aspects of Exmoor

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We would suggest that these notes are read in conjunction with
the Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure 9 Exmoor 1:25000 map.

Walk DN1: Croydon Hill-Black Hill

Bold letters in brackets, for example (A), refer to check points on the shorter walks mentioned at the end.

Notes: Croydon Hill, lying as it does only a couple of miles south of Dunster, is a surprisingly remote area for walking; it is easy to have a walk without meeting anyone, even in the middle of August. This is because this area does not figure in books of walks for visitors. With the exception of one stretch of path which can be very wet, it is a walk for all weathers, especially if you use the short variant. The area is used for forestry but there are sections of very open land with fine views. A little care is required with your map reading along the first stretch; to that end, I have included more grid references than usual!

Distance: 4¼ miles. Short variation 3¼ miles.

Time: 1¾ -2 hours. Short variation 1¼ -1½ hours.

Start point: Thorn Farm(GR SS 966402). Take the A396 Tiverton road out of Dunster and after crossing the Avill bridge just south of the village, turn left folowing the signpost for Luxborough and Nutcombe Bottom. If coming from the south, after passing Cowbridge Cross (the Wootton Courtenay turning), watch for the turning on the right after about 1½ miles.

Follow this road past the car park at Nutcombe Bottom when the road climbs out of the valley. You emerge onto an open section of hillside with fine views towards Dunkery and Porlock and then slope down gently past a bridleway on your right and reach the entrance to Thorn Farm on your right with a forest road forking off left. Park about 50 yards along the forestry road.

Directions: Continue along the track and fork left through a wooden barrier after a few yards. The track heads gradually up a long slope with open views on your right. After passing a track on your left, you enter a more heavily forested section and soon reach a six way junction (GR SS 974396). At first sight, this looks more like a five way junction; the sixth track, which is the one marked as a right-of-way on the OS map goes straight ahead into fairly heavy woodland and is often obscured by the bracken growth. Take the second path almost straight ahead passing along the left side of this block of woodland.. Continue to a T-junction with a wide forest road (GR SS 976398) and turn right. At the next crossing, go straight ahead continuing through conifer plantations to another major junction, with six tracks (GR SS 984394). This is the junction between Croydon Hill, Black Hill and Monkham Hill. Turn left through the new double gates and, just a few yards along, stay with the right hand track which slopes gently upwards and curves initially to the right coming right out of the trees onto open moorland. After four or five minutes, you reach the OS column at the top of Black Hill. (A) There are very good views here especially to the north and north-east. Continue beyond the column and the track begins to gradually descend and after about 500 yards reaches a junction.

Turn right and very soon you begin to follow a fence on your left with bracken and gorse on the other side, followed by two fields of rough pasture. This whole section can be very wet in places after rain and in the winter. At the end of the fields turn right (ignoring the sign through the metal gate straight ahead) and follow the well-surfaced track, ignoring tracks to the left. This leads through open woodland until you reach a T-junction with a wide track climbing up from the left. Stay on the level track, continuing forwards and after another six or seven minutes, you will arrive back at the six-way junction where you turned to go up to Black Hill summit. (B)

Take the second turning left and walk along a track with a deep valley on your left. When, after 300 yards, you reach a junction, turn right onto a firm surfaced track at right-angles to yours. This climbs gradually to a minor summit then drops down over a track crossing and you return to the six-way junction with the wooden gates. Bear half left and within a hundred yards, you re-emerge into the open returning down your outward track. From here, there are excellent views of Dunkery. The white buildings straight ahead are at Beasley farm and you can see the telephone booster mast on Kennisham Hill sharp left. Continue down the track to where you parked.

Short variation. When you reach the summit of Black Hill, retrace your steps to the track crossing where you turned. Go straight ahead and pick up the walk notes from (B).

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Information © Geoff Bannister 2004-2008