South Somerset cycle trail
Barrington Court, near Ilminster, Somerset TA19 0NQRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Enjoy this fun cycle route with all the family, from the tranquillity and serenity of Barrington Court to the magnificent Montacute House. There are lovely views of open countryside, together with charming villages and hamlets to discover along the way. You’ll also get the chance to spot a variety of wildlife, whatever the season.
Start: Barrington Court car park, grid ref: ST398183
Leave the main car park at Barrington Court and turn left, heading uphill. Cycle for 1.5 miles (2.4km), crossing over the A303. Turn left at the T- junction and then straight over at the roundabout. Just after the Trading Post café turn right down a small dirt track.
The orchards and formal gardens at Barrington Court, pictured, are ideal places to spot wildlife. Look out for butterflies such as the yellow brimstone in early spring. Old style orchards are enduring features of the landscape around here, providing an insight into the history of the countryside. They are laid out like a grid system with ample space between each fruit tree. The orchards are home to an abundance of local wildlife and cider producers. The blossom in spring is a real delight.
Follow the track round until you meet a T-junction. Turn left and follow signs for Norton Sub Hamdon.
South Somerset is home to a variety of migrant and native bird species including green woodpeckers, nightingales and buzzards. The nearby Somerset Levels provide a sanctuary for thriving populations of little grebe, swan, heron and lapwing species. You may also catch a glimpse of fox and roe deer in quiet spots along the route and a variety of bat species come out at dusk. Dragonflies and damselflies can often be spotted at ponds and streams.
Proceed, pausing to look down onto the surrounding countryside and magnificent views of the Quantock Hills, the Blackdowns and Somerset Levels. Cross over the River Parrett and go straight over at the crossroads. Beware of heavy traffic. Flowing down from the Dorset Hills, the River Parrett runs for 50 miles. The Parrett Trail runs alongside the river and is a very popular walk for both locals and visitors. Otters are common here and the best chance of spotting one is from Creedy Bridge.
Montacute House is a stunning Elizabethan mansion set in beautiful parkland. It is home to over 60 portraits from the National Portrait Gallery and filled with historic treasures. Fun trails and events make it appealing for the whole family.
As you approach Norton Sub Hamdon, turn left noting the wonderful views of Ham Hill to your right. Turn right at the T-junction and continue heading towards Montacute.
Cycle about 1.5 miles (2.4km) keeping on the same road and passing through Stoke Sub Hamdon. On your right, you pass the entrance to Ham Hill Country Park, the largest Iron Age hill fort in Britain. As you cycle through the beautiful hamstone village of Montacute, follow the brown signs until you reach the main National Trust car park.
To return, go back through the village until you reach Stoke Sub Hamdon. Take a sharp right turn signed Martock. Stoke sub Hamdon Priory is on your left, follow the road down over the A303 for 2.5 miles (4km).
As you approach Martock you can turn right at the T-junction to visit Treasurers House. Alternatively, turn left at the T-junction to continue back to Barrington. After turning left, follow signs for Parrett Works and cycle the flat terrain alongside the River Parrett. Head uphill towards South Pertherton, joining the National Cycle Network Route 33.
Bear left at the bottom of the hill. Turn right at the T-junction, follow the road through the town and continue along Palmer Street, heading uphill. Go straight over at the crossroads and right at the T-junction in Shepton Beauchamp. Turn left at the Duke of York pub and follow signs for Barrington and then the brown signs for Barrington Court.
End: Barrington Court car park, grid ref: ST398183
- Trail: Cycling
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 20 miles (32.1km)
- Time: 2 hours
- OS Map: Explorer 128, Landranger 193
Well-maintained, mostly quiet roads. Surfaces are generally flat with a couple of steep hills. It can be muddy after wet weather. This ride takes you along part of NCN Route 33, from Chard to Ilminster, along a purpose built railway path. If you fancy a longer ride you can cycle further to Bridgwater on level, minor roads. The route covers 30 miles (48.2km).
- How to get here:
By bike: National Cycle Network Route 33 passes within 1 mile (1.6km) of Barrington Court. See Sustrans website for more information
By train: Crewkerne 7 miles (11.2km)
By car: A358 Ilminster–Taunton or A303, Hayes End roundabout