Connecting the Mendip Way to the Cotswold Way long-distance trails, the Limestone Link is a wonderful footpath taking in some truly majestic countryside. Taking in two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), glorious rivers and plenty of picturesque villages, this is a rich and diverse adventure.
While there are plenty of ups and downs and some fantastic ridgeline views, this hike is accessible to walkers of all abilities. There’s nothing technical and the terrain is gentle underfoot with well-made footpaths and bridleways. You’re never too far from a village, a pub or a bus route on this rural expedition either, allowing for a lot of flexibility.
Starting on the northern limit of the Mendip Hills AONB, fantastic views are a real highlight of the first section. The Mendips are well known for their caves and you pass by several excellent examples of the kind of limestone caverns that draw cavers from all over the country. Woodlands and vistas over the Chew Valley alternate in the first third.
The middle section of the Limestone Link is gentle on the legs with subtle undulations. Highlights of this part involve seeking out historic wonders embedded into the landscape: from old stone bridges spanning long-dried canals, old manor houses, disused viaducts and churches with long histories.
The majority of the last section is flat as the trail skirts beautiful Bath and follows part of the Kennet and Avon Canal. You climb to the finish in Cold Ashton, where the Limestone Link meets the Cotswold Way, but it’s not particularly steep. Both the River Avon and the Kennet and Avon Canal give this final hike a blissfully tranquil feel and you can admire the waters as they meet at Dundas Aqueduct.
This is a rural hike and mainly passes through small villages. As a result, food and accommodation stops need to be planned well in advance so you can book places on or near the route. This isn’t to say it’s difficult to find places to eat and sleep, but your choice may affect exactly where you finish each hike.
It’s perfectly possible to walk the Limestone Link at any time of year. To make the most of the vibrant woodlands, hedgerows and birdsong though, hike between late spring and early autumn. Don’t forget waterproofs and suncream if the conditions demand them.
Reaching the beginning at Shipham is easiest by bus. From Glastonbury, take the number 668 to the start point. From Bristol, catch the Falcon Flyer to Star, which is a 0.8-mile (1.3 km) walk from Shipham. At the end, the number 8 bus takes you from Cold Ashton to Bristol Temple Meads station whilst the number 79 bus takes you to Bath.
See the Mendip Way Collection here: komoot.com/collection/1096547/caves-gorges-hilltops-and-history-hiking-the-mendip-way
See the Cotswold Way Collection here: komoot.com/collection/975/the-cotswold-way-hike-the-iconic-trail-in-one-week
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Last updated: November 4, 2021
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The first stage of the Limestone Link begins in Shipham, where the Mendip Way passes through on its way to Frome. This is the hilliest of the three stages, with 1,175 feet (358 m) of elevation gain but the hills are mostly gentle. You enjoy plenty of wonderful views on your ramble to Hinton Blewett…
by Kit P
There’s little in the way of hills on this stage and, although you begin by gently descending from the Mendips, the hike is very gentle on the legs. Traversing Somerset’s wonderful pastoral landscape, you leave the Mendip AONB and cross the valley to reach the Cotswolds AONB. Viaducts, dismantled railways…
by Kit P
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This final stage loops around the east of the historic city of Bath to finish at Cold Ashton, which the Cotswold Way passes through on its way through this vast AONB. The first three-quarters of the hike is more or less flat and you climb steadily for the final quarter. Rivers, canals and historic places…
by Kit P
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