Staple Plain walk

Quantocks, Somerset

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Red Deer on the Quantock Hills © Rob Skinner

Red Deer on the Quantock Hills

Dartford warbler {Sylvia undata} perched on gorse © NTPL/NaturePL/Colin Varndell

Dartford warbler {Sylvia undata} perched on gorse

Staple Plain Bronze age burial cairns © NT Nigel Garnsworthy

Staple Plain Bronze age burial cairns

Route overview

Wander down through broadleaf woodland, into a bracken filled combe and up to the top of Beacon Hill to savour fantastic panoramic views across the Quantock Hills and beyond. Continue through lowland heathland, listening and looking out for red deer, skylark and Dartford warbler in this wildlife-rich environment.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map of Staple Plain wildlife walk
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Staple Plain car park, grid ref: ST116410

  1. Head towards the car park entrance, then go left past a wooden gate and fence to a track in the corner of the car park which is waymarked down into Weacombe Combe. The track heads steeply down at first, alongside woodland.

  2. Follow the track down until it joins a path running along the bottom of Weacombe Combe. Turn left and follow this path up the combe, keeping the stream on your right. About half of the way up, the path crosses the stream. Cross over and continue to follow the path up the combe.

    Show/HideWildlife

    Staple Plain is important for its lowland heathland and is a fantastic haven for a diverse range of wildlife. This walk takes you through a range of different habitats, where you could be lucky enough to spot a range of animals, including red deer, common lizards, adders and dung beetles.

    Red Deer on the Quantock Hills © Rob Skinner
  3. At the top of the combe (on the opposite side where several tracks meet) is Bicknoller Post. From here, on a clear day, you can see over to Minehead and Dunkery Beacon in Exmoor. Turn left at these tracks and follow it away from the two hawthorn trees either side of the track, with Bicknoller Post behind you on the right.

  4. When the track splits keep right and then continue walking straight on. Keep walking up the stony tracks in roughly a straight (northerly) direction.

  5. Head over the crossroads and walk roughly 218yd (200m), where you will see a grassy track leading off to the left.

  6. Follow this path up a gentle slope to the triangulation point; a concrete trig point.

  7. Once at the trig point stop to take in the amazing views: Wales, Steep Holm in the Bristol Channel, Weston-Super-Mare, Brean Down, Bridgwater Bay, Quantock Common, Exmoor and Minehead can all be seen from here.

    Show/HideBirds

    During the day skylarks give their musical aerial display, whilst Dartford warblers (pictured) skulk in the gorse, with stonechats acting as sentries. In the summer months, Silver washed fritillary and green hairstreak butterflies can be found in woodland glades and scrubby edges.

    Dartford warbler {Sylvia undata} perched on gorse © NTPL/NaturePL/Colin Varndell
  8. The trig point is sited on a mound of stones (a cairn) with another a few metres away and a path just to the left of it. Head down this path until you reach the car park. While going down this path you'll pass through heathland of varying different ages, which attracts a range of wildlife, and also some bracken covered areas.

    Show/HideBurial cairns

    Staple Plain is part of a larger Site of Special Scientific Interest (areas requiring protection on account of its rare wildlife or geological features) which covers all of the Quantock Common. On most of the hilltops you'll find large piles of stone; these are Bronze Age burial cairns, which were assembled here by Bronze Age communities as tributes to their tribal leaders.

    Staple Plain Bronze age burial cairns © NT Nigel Garnsworthy

End: Staple Plain car park, grid ref: ST116410

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 2 miles (3.2km)
  • Time: 1 hour
  • OS Map: Explorer 140; Landranger 181
  • Terrain:

    Circular walk through different habitats, with varied terrain. Steep slope at start of walk, with some steps. Most of the trail is along wide stone or grass tracks, with a section passing through a few streams which can be muddy during wet weather. Dogs welcome under close control or on a lead. 1 March to 31 July dogs must be on short leads.

  • How to get here:

    By bike: bridleways pass through Weacombe Combe at point 2 on map and up Staple Lane from West Quantoxhead along track to car park
    By bus: service 14 from Bridgwater (passing close to train station), alight West Quantoxhead bus shelter. Then 1 mile (1.6km) by road into village and up Staple Lane, a steep hill on left, to car park
    By train: Bridgwater, 14 miles (22.5km)
    By car: 13 miles (21km) from Bridgwater on A39 and 18 miles (29km) from Taunton on A358. Car park at Staple Plain (National Trust, no charge)

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