Small but perfectly formed, the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) lies in Somerset, just west of Bridgwater and south west of Bristol. A stunning region featuring ancient woodlands, historic manors, open heathland and secluded combes, hiking here is the perfect blend of cultural and natural landscapes.
The Quantock Greenway is a figure-of-eight hike extending 36 miles (58 km). Looping around the perimeter of the AONB and cinching at the waist, the route includes everything from stately homes to ancient droves.
While you can walk this in any direction you like or do the full figure-of-eight, I’ve split it into two loops; the north loop as one stage and the slightly longer south loop as two stages. I’ve also started and ended the loops in a manner whereby you can follow the stages to complete the eight, simply pick your direction.
The south loop begins and ends at Broomfield where Fyne Court, a beautiful National Trust property, awaits you. On this loop, quintessential Quantock villages seem to appear around every corner and some phenomenal architecture is en route; the Temple of Harmony, Halswell House and Enmore Castle.
It takes you through undulating open landscape and the edge of the stunning Great Wood, an enormous broadleaf and conifer forest. At 21 miles (34 km) long, I’ve split this into two stages which you could undertake in one, challenging day or spread across a weekend.
Rambling the north loop is a little shorter at 18 miles (29 km) although I’ve added an optional detour to Bicknoller, should you fancy visiting this charming village. I’ve kept this as one stage but if you want to break it into two, there are a variety of accommodation options in the villages on or near the route. This loop takes you around the Great Wood as well as through its south edge. You can enjoy fantastic views over the Bristol Channel, spot glorious historic architecture and pass over the Drove, a medieval track that passes high up through the Quantocks.
You can hike the Quantock Greenway at any time of year but its beautiful broadleaf forests and abundance of oaks and beech burst with colour from spring to autumn. In the summer, the evening sun lights up this ancient land with golden hues, bringing an exquisite end to your hike.
Check the forecast and remember waterproofs if it looks inclement. The Quantocks experiences plenty of warm, settled weather in the warmer months so remember sunscreen too. There are plenty of pubs around the perimeter, on or near the route, for a pub lunch. Accommodation is most easily found in Nether Stowey but there are campsites, B&Bs and hotels scattered around the route as well; always book in advance.
You can reach the south loop’s beginning most easily by car, parking at Broomfield. Alternatively, catch a train to Bridgwater or Taunton and take a taxi the rest of the way. For the north loop, it will depend on whether you hike it in one day or two. If one, park in the forest car park just west of Over Stowey and the start point. If walking over two days, you could leave the car in Nether Stowey and hike up to the trail start.
This is the first stage of two that make up the South Loop of the Quantock Greenway. Ever so slightly longer than the North Loop at 21.3 miles (34.3 km), I’ve split this loop in half to enable you to do it in one or two stages. This stage undulates around the south western section of the Quantock Hills AONB, …
The second half of the South Loop has several grand examples of the area’s rich cultural history. Enmore Castle and Halswell House reveal how long the aristocracy have been residing in this beautiful landscape. This hike stays mostly just outside the AONB and provides lovely views of the hills to the west. At the end, you walk back into the …
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At 19.5 miles (31.3 km) long, I’ve kept this loop as one stage. You can shorten it a little by skipping the detour to Bicknoller, is a very pretty village. A challenging day hike, you can of course cut it in half and stay overnight in the West Quantoxhead area or catch the number 15 bus from there and ride …