A fairly long circular walk; along quiet lanes and footpaths. Passing through the hamlets of Tellisford and Iford and taking in wide ranging views of west Wiltshire. With a drink at a quintessentially olde English pub: ‘The George Inn’.
This walk begins near the Sainsburys and the Kennet and Avon Canal lock and wharf on the southside of Bradford on Avon.
Although there is a car park near the canal lock this is pay and display. With the Sainsburys car park having a two hour limit. It is better to park on nearby Southway Road which is in a safe neighbourhood. Or it may be possible to park on the trading estate on Rowden Lane when it is the weekend.
Either way, after putting on your walking gear; walk along Rowden Lane until you reach a Royal Mail centre on your left. Ahead you will see a gravel track that heads out into the countryside.
After approximately quarter of mile; you will cross a small wooden bridge over a small brook. Turn right here and walk towards a road that descends around a bend from your left.
Take care here, listen out for cars and keep looking as well. As you walk up the side of the road; there is a wide verge on the right when a car passes you.
Reaching the top of the hill, the road straightens out. After approximately 50 metres you will see a five bar gate and stile on your right.
After crossing three large fields; you will walk through the yard of a small cabin like house. Then past a large house on your right before reaching a main road. Cross the road and climb over a stile by a farm entrance gate. Follow the driveway until it veers to the left; then take the path towards the field in front of you. Follow the footpath signs and you will soon arrive at another main road. Look to your left and you will see a pub called: ‘The Poplars’. Take the small lane to the right of the pub and follow it to field. Cross the field and you will arrive to a lane where you should turn left towards a farm.
As you are almost in the farmyard; you will see a footpath sign and stile on your right. This path skirts around the farm and a large cow shed. The path here is not always clear plus you may have to divert around a field of lively cows like me. Yet follow the map and head for the treeline in the distance. Reaching a corner; you will descend through the woods to a field by the River Frome. Turning left and walking alongside the river; you will soon reach an old bridge and the little hamlet of Tellisford.
Popular for river swimming in warmer months; this picturesque village has stood for over a thousand years. The impressive packhorse bridge is worthy of note and the obligatory ‘selfie’. Cross the bridge and climb the steps in front of you.
Along quiet lanes to Norton St Philip
Walking out of Tellisford; you will come to a crossroads with a bench and a old fashioned signpost. Go straight on towards Norton St Philip along a narrow lane. After approximately a mile, you will cross a very busy main road. Take your time to wait for a safe gap in the traffic.
Norton St Philip and ‘The George Inn’
Entering the village of Norton St Philip from a quiet lane; you will soon seen rooftops then houses come into view. Reaching a main road; turn right towards the centre of the village. There is a Co-op shop here if you need supplies; or continue a little further along the narrow high street to the George Inn.
The George Inn is a Grade I listed building, constructed in the 14th Century by the local priory. The building was originally used as a wool store and accommodation for visiting wool merchants. Later becoming a hostelry for all and stop on the stagecoach between London, Bath and the Westcountry.
With all this history in mind; I stopped there myself for a refreshing pint of bitter and packet of crisps on my winter walk. I arrived at lunchtime so the indoor tables were mostly full with diners. It was a sunny day, so I went out to sunbathe and enjoy the view across the common to the church and surrounding hills. To see the food menu or even stay the night; find out more at their website: https://butcombe.com/the-george-inn-somerset/
A bloody part of English history
After King Charles II died in 1685; his brother James II took to the throne. This upset many English people as James was a Catholic. So an illegitimate son of Charles II, the Duke of Monmouth James Scott; raised an army to depose his uncle from the throne. After a series of skirmishes near Bristol; the Duke of Monmouth was resting in the George Inn. At one point, whilst sat at a table in the Inn; the Duke narrowly missed being shot by a Royal sniper.
When news came that the Royal Army was approaching from Bath. The Duke ordered his men to barricade the narrow North Street; which was the main road at the time. When the Royal Army tried to break through the barricade; they incurred a reported loss of 80 men when the Duke launched a flanking counter attack. With reports that the steep back lanes of Norton St Philip running red with blood.
Just ten days later the rebels were defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor near Bridgwater. James Scott was executed along with hundreds of his followers by the infamous Judge Jeffreys. In Norton St Philip, twelve local men were executed on the green that can seen from the beer garden. With their bodies then hung around the village as a warning to others.
Walking down a lane to Iford under a setting sun.
I did this walk in mid December; so as I was enjoying the winter sun in the beer garden, I also knew that it would soon be dark. Downing the last of my pint; I handed in the glass then headed out of town on the new main road towards Bath. After a short rise; I passed modern houses and Chever’s Lane on my left. After which; I crossed the road and climbed over a stile and into a field. This field is also part of the battlefield of 1685; so I imagined poor men locked in bloody and brutal hand to hand combat. With the local farmers still ploughing up cannonballs in the surrounding fields.
After crossing this field, I followed a farm track and then turned left across paddocks. After a while I reached another road coming out of Hinton Charterhouse. I turned right and followed this road east for over a mile. Then taking care to cross a main road; I went straight over a crossroads into a quiet lane to Iford. This road can be used as a shortcut so listen out for cars and be ready to jump in the hedge!
Iford and home
Descending a steep hill you will arrive at the picturesque Iford Manor. A noble seat has been here since the Norman Conquest; with many local families such as the Hungerfords and Hortons living here at one time or another. The classic Georgian façade was added in 1725. At the start of the 20th Century; the house was owned by Harold Peto, an architect and garden designer. With his love of Italy, he remodelled the gardens to a classic Mediterranean style that are worth a visit when they are open. Check here: https://www.ifordmanor.co.uk/
From here, I walked up the road to the right of the house. Passing below narrow garden walls and an Italianate statue of a resting cherub. After rounding the corner, you will see a path leading off to the right away from the steep road. Take this for approximately half a mile then turn left through a kissing gate by a stream. Walk around the field as you climb a hill. Reaching the a lane turn left and walk for about fifty metres. Here you will see a worn stile on your right, take this and walk along the side of the field towards the church of Westwood.
Reaching the church; walk through the graveyard to the wall behind the church. Follow the wall, even when it turns at a right angle. Cross a road to a side road, then enter the field as that road bends to the left. Follow the hedgerow across the fields towards a radio transmitter. The path is sometimes unclear; yet by using Wikiloc, Google maps and keeping the transmitter on your left, you will arrive at the top of Jones Hill. Here you can follow my route down through Southleigh and Elms Cross Drive or walk down Jones Hill to the Kennet and Avon Canal lock and the Lock Inn.