Coldharbour Farm Circular
The Coldharbour Farm Circular is predominantly a field walk, with some longish stretches, to the north of Bampton affording fine panoramic views across the Exe and Batherm Valleys and over to Exmoor.
Cross the road by the war memorial above the car park, into High Street. Walk up the high street, keeping to the right. Care should be taken on this narrow stretch. This is the old high road from Bampton to Dulverton, avoiding the Exe Valley. One can imagine it as the route taken by John Ridd on his return to Exmoor in the novel ‘Lorna Doone’.
Continue uphill and turn right at Grey Gables, the last house on the right. The footpath starts at the head of a short drive, through a field gate to the left. St Luke’s Chapel stood near this spot in earlier times. It is likely that some of the older High Street cottages were built from the chapel stone. In the neighbouring fields was the site of the 13th century St Luke’s Fair, the origins of the annual Bampton Fair held in October. Now follow the field hedge line to the stile ahead. From the summit there are good views behind you of Bampton Woods and ahead towards Morebath, to the right is the aerial mast of Hukeley Knap above Shillingford.
Follow the path downhill to a stile. The path now drops between a grove of trees, bearing leftwards. In spring the banks here are massed with primroses. Keeping left, make for the left-hand corner ahead. Below to the right lies Birchdown Farm, sheltered under Birchdown Wood.
At the field corner climb over two stiles and then a third to the right. The path leads uphill straight ahead, keep the hedge to your right. Fields full of oak, ash, hazel and thorn m
ake a wind break. Cross a wide metal gate and leave the hedge on a diagonal for the gap at the top left hand corner of the field. Pass through the metal gate.
The path runs diagonally across the next field – usually planted with maize in the summer months. At the top lefthand corner is a muddy area to cross, bear left, and a quick sharp right to follow the edge of the hedge (ignore the gate on the left) and continue along the field edge as the land levels to the next gate. Turn sharp right and then left through another gate.
Take in the views at a height of 235m – Morebath lies to the right with Haddon Hill and the Brendons beyond. Looking left you will see fringes of Dulverton and Brushford and Exebridge. On the farthest horizon ahead lies Dunkery Beacon, the summit of Exmoor (519m).
The footpath decends through Coldharbour Farm, bear slightly left for the yard into a grassy track. After another field gate continue steeply down the sunken gully just right
of the hedge to meet the lane from Exebridge to Morebath at Blitht’s Hill. Turn right and follow the lane for the next mile to Lower Lodfin, stay on the right.
When you reach the the road junction turn right, keeping to your right. Take care on this next part of the walk as the road can be busy. after a few hundred yards cross t
he road at a sharp right-han
d bend, Chiltern Cross and continue up the gated track ahead called Holwell Lane (known locally as Primrose lane due to the wild flowers found here).
Follow the track up hill bearing left and then right. On the brow of the hill go through the gate near a quarry corner and take the field path on the right. Through another gate keeping the hedge on your right. The path leads t
o a stile and continues to the right of a fence to a further stile. Stay straight
ahead through another gate. Then take the gate immediately on the left ab
ove an old stone barn with unusual curved wall -ends.
From this gate bear diagonall
y across the field to another gate and on the same line make for the stile which is now visible across the field. From the stile you can see the River Batherm and St Michael’s Church tower. The tree-capped Motte is in the foreground between the two.
The path finally leads down to a stile and gate to join the Morebath road. Cross with care and turn left downhill towards the road junction where you turn tight into Castle Street, head for the church and cross the church yard into station road car park. You can visit Bampton’s Heritage Centre in the church on your return.