Quantock Hills Blog

In the Steps of the Romantic Poets

- Tim leads a walk through spectacular Coleridge country

Tim Russell

Posted by Tim Russell on 18 October 2011

In the Steps of the Romantic Poets Last Sunday I led a guided walk along the Quantock Hills section of The Coleridge Way.  The route we took was circular so that we ended up in the same car park where we left our vehicles.  We started at Holford Village Green car park and followed the old coach drive into Alfoxton Park.  This is where the Wordsworths resided at the same time that Coleridge lived in Nether Stowey.  We were lucky enough to see a large herd of red deer on the fields below the drive.

The route from then on following the commons boundary is undulating and allows wonderful views to the Quantock Coast and our own ‘channel islands’ of Steep Holm and Flat Holm.  A particularly pleasant section then cuts through the bottom of the old St Audries Deer Park (now Forestry Commission forest) affording stunning views out to Exmoor from a very well sited (and welcome) bench on the trail above St Audries Church.

The route then gradually works its way down the western side of the AONB following the bridleway between West Quantoxhead and Bicknoller.  There are some really splendid trees along this section and lovely, pastoral views over Bicknoller to the Brendons.

All of us then braced ourselves for the climb up Bicknoller Combe … always worth it though for the stunning views back down the combe to Dunkery Beacon and the pretty much guaranteed opportunity to see wild red deer on the slopes (which we did).

As soon as the open hilltops are reached the wilder nature of the Quantocks are experienced, with extensive open landscape and panoramic views across much of the County.  Taking the ridge route east over Longstone Hill provided stunning coastal views to the north and the heart of the Quantocks to the south, ancient oak forest in the combes surrounded by heather topped hills.

A brief stop to take in the views from Willoughby Cleave, then down through the old trees and along the stream back into Holford.  An excellent walk and well worth doing if you like a variety of landscapes, habitats, wildlife and unrivalled views!

For those of you interested in the Coleridge/Wordsworth story of their time in the Quantocks check out the film ‘Pandaemonium’.

This was made a few years ago by local film director Julien Temple, it’s a fascinating look at the poets’ relationship and has wonderful images of hills.  I think you can get DVD via sources such as play.com or amazon.


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