- At a glance
- Locality & Walks
- Accommodation & Meals
- Travel options
Your Holiday at a Glance
|Independent Walking Holiday||
|Dates for 2020||
|Accommodation and Meals||
|What's not included||
Locality & Walks
This self guided walking holiday in north Somerset, England, follows the long-distance footpath across the Mendip Hills from Weston-super-Mare to Frome. It is divided into two sections, the West Mendip Way which opened in 1979 starts at the Bristol Channel at Uphill. It climbs the Mendip Hills with views over the Somerset Levels. It then crosses the central Mendip plateau leading down to Cheddar Gorge and on to Wells. Most of the western section is within the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Just south of Bristol, the Mendip Hills is a beautiful and varied landscape. A dramatic scene of wild, open plateau is interrupted by deep gorges such as Cheddar Gorge. Cheddar is England’s largest gorge, and with its weathered crags and pinnacles, one of the country’s most spectacular natural sites. The area is littered with the remnants of man’s industrial and social past, such as the Priddy Nine Barrows, a Bronze Age cemetery, and the Roman lead mines at Charterhouse.
The weathering of the limestone hills has created a network of caves as well as gorges, with Cheddar Caves and Wookey Hole Caves open to the public. On its steeper slopes flower rich grasslands and wooded coombes offer varied habitats for a wide variety of wildlife. The Mendips overlook the Somerset Levels to the South, where there are wetland nature reserves and where, of course, the iconic sight of Glastonbury Tor rises above the Levels. Nestled below the Mendips is the beautiful medieval city of Wells, with its magnificent Cathedral and moated Bishop’s Palace. The East Mendip Way takes a route that gives glimpses of the areas industrial past including old lime kilns, quarries as well as railway viaducts and tunnels before reaching the historic town of Frome.
A moderate walking holiday with each day's walk averaging 16km or 10 miles. The walking varies with some fairly level sections, whilst others include sizeable ascents and descents from the Mendip Hills. Your walking holiday follows the national long distance trail, The Mendip Way, made up of the West and East Mendip Ways. Walking will include walking on all sorts of terrain and conditions; muddy or boggy areas as well as tarmac.
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome and night at Weston Super Mare.
Day 2: Weston-Super-Mare - Axbridge
The first day’s walking takes you along the seafront before climbing from the marina at Uphill to the highest point of the western edge of the Mendips at Bleadon Hill with views of Crook Peak, the Bristol Channel and the Somerset Levels. You will pass through the small village of Loxton before climbing to the distinctive craggy limestone outcrop of Crook Peak where you will have great views of the Somerset Levels spread out to the south. You will then proceed onto the heathland of Wavering Down and Cross Plain before descending via the Strawberry Line to Axbridge, your overnight location. Up to 22km (13 miles)
Day 3: Axbridge - Cheddar
The route returns to the West Mendip Way at Shute Shelve Hill and then skirts to the south of Shipham, before passing through the plantations on Rowberrow Warren via Rowberry Bottom. The path then descends into a valley via Long Wood and Black Rock Nature Reserve at the top of Cheddar Gorge, before descending the gorge to the village of Cheddar. 11km (7 miles)
Day 4: Cheddar - Priddy
From Cheddar the route follows the Mendip escarpment south west giving you superb views over the Somerset Levels before moving up to the village of Priddy, which lies in a small hollow at an elevation of nearly 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea-level, and has evidence of occupation since neolithic times; it is home to the Priddy Circles, a henge monument contemporary with Stonehenge, Priddy Nine Barrows and Ashen Hill, Bronze Age cemeteries, as well as the Priddy Mineries nature reserve. 16km (10 miles)
Optional additional night in Cheddar with a further walk around the perimeter of the Gorge
Day 5: Priddy - Wells
From Priddy the day’s walk goes through Ebbor Gorge, a small and hidden limestone gorge and down into Wookey Hole, with its caves, which are open to the public and known for its legend surrounding a witch. The route then descends to the lovely medieval city of Wells. Time to explore the Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace and the rest of the City. 11km (7 miles)
Day 6: Wells - Shepton Mallet
The Mendip Way departs Wells along a path beside the Bishop's Palace moat and then climbs through woods via Tor Hill and then joins a track past King's Castle wood, the site of an iron age settlement. The path follows a route high above the village of Croscombe (an alternative route can be taken via the villages of Dinder & Croscombe to return to the Mendip Way via Ham Woods) and then goes through Ham Woods and descends to Shepton Mallet. Before that you can get a look at the now redundant viaduct and tunnel at Windsor Hill. You will approach the town via the old railway line of the Somerset and Dorset Railway and take a look at the town on the way to your accommodation. You can pass the old prison, which when it closed in 2013, was the UK's oldest operating prison having opened in around 1625. 11km (7 miles)
Day 7: Shepton Mallet - Frome
Depart Shepton Mallet with views of the Charlton Viaduct as the route goes over Ingsdons Hill to Chelynch passed a flooded quarry at Waterlip before climbing to the highest point on the Mendip Way. Here you will find Cranmore Tower, 45m high 19th century folly open to the public for wonderful views. The path goes through Asham Wood, one of the largest of the ancient semi-natural woods in the Mendips before passing Chantry and Great Elm adjacent to Whatley Quarry. The path then heads into Frome where the Mendip Way terminates. Explore some of Frome's medieval cobbled streets. 22km (13 miles)
Day 8: Departure
Departure after breakfast or additional day in Frome.
For useful advice about independent walking and preparing for your self guided holiday please take a look at the articles in our top-tips section.
Once you have booked on this independent walking holiday in southern England, further information about the walking, the region and what to bring, will be sent to you. We do have a web page dedicated to what clothes and equipment you should bring. In addition, our travel shop has direct access to all the top walking and travel retailers. Please contact us if you need any further information.
Accommodation & Meals
7 nights B&B in a variety of small quality guest houses with ensuite accommodation. Mixture of bed & breakfasts and small hotels. They are located in delightful historic properties, mainly in towns, but some in rural locations. Lunches are picnic meals, which can be provided by your guest house. Evening meals are taken in your guest house or in local pubs and restaurants. There will be plenty of local specialities to try and of course the local real ales. An example of the type of guest house we use is shown below.
To Get to Weston Super Mare
To Weston: Weston Super Mare lies on the mainline from Bristol to the South West. Direct trains are available from London, Birmingham, Gloucester, Cardiff, Taunton and Exeter.
It is possible to utilise long stay car parks in Weston subject to availability (cost approx £11 to £23 for a week)
The nearest airport is Bristol. It is possible to get an airport bus to Weston (A2). Service runs hourly from 7.13am until 19.47pm and journey takes about an hour. More expensive would be a taxi from the airport, about 15 miles (24km) from Weston.
National Express operate services to Weston Super Mare.
Frome is served well by coach and rail with a line to Paddington Station, London as well as Bristol
Please visit our travel shop for links to useful sites for reserving airport parking or booking train tickets
Note: Please check concerning the availability of a holiday before booking any flights or trains. If you need further information or would like to discuss any aspect of your travel arrangements, please contact us, we’re here to help you.