Drove Road, Great and Marrow Hills, Somerset
Crowcombe Park Gate car parkRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Walk the tracks that Man has used for hundreds of years, whilst enjoying the stunning views and quiet beauty of this part of the Quantock Hills.
- Bus stop
Start: Crowcombe Park Gate car park, grid ref: ST150375
From the West Hill sign, follow the track in the direction of Triscombe Stone, as signposted.
There are substantial beech hedgebanks as a result of the Enclosure Act in the early 19th Century. Those marking parish boundaries (as existed at the time) have had their banks inlaid with stone. Beech trees are shallow rooted and the tree in Triscombe Combe (pictured) displays its magnificent root system, clinging on to the remains of a hedgebank. These trees are not as long-lived as oak trees a normal lifespan being about 350 years - as their shallow roots are often uprooted by strong winds.
Roughly 700 feet (200 metres) from the start, go through the gate at the NT boundary and continue along the Drove Road. After another 1,300 feet (400 metres), the left-hand section of the track drops into a gully; numerous beech trees grow across the track as well as in the hedgebanks.
On this Atlantic heathland look out for heather and gorse, as well as bell heather and bilberry. You'll also see oak, hawthorn, hazel, holly, larch and a number of other tree species. According to season, listen out for skylark, meadow pipit, yellow hammer, jay, redpoll and other birdsong. The picture shows the southern end of Ladybird Wood (at the bottom of Great Hill) with Wills Neck coming into view behind the trees. This section of the wood is a coniferous plantation with such species as larch, scots pine and Douglas fir. The other end of the wood contains holly, elder, hawthorn, oak, beech, rowan and coppiced hazel trees.
Once through this 'copse' of trees there are gates on the right. Go through the gates, navigate around the pond and proceed down Little Quantock Combe, keeping the beech hedgebank on your right. The slope downhill is moderately steep, with views over the vale below and onto the Brendon Hills and Exmoor beyond.
The medieval Drove Road is part of King Alfred's Way that runs along the ridge of the Quantock Hills. Alongside the Drove Road you'll see many cairns and barrows (loose piles of stones or mounds) that sometimes mark the graves of the early Bronze Age settlers. Beech trees either side form the avenue.
As you approach the bottom of the combe there are double metal gates. Turn left up a steep slope before the gates and proceed along the path at the bottom of Great Hill. This path is a mix of steep and level sections. Look out for old hawthorn bushes, oak trees and foxgloves along this path.
Continue along the path, keeping the stock fence on your right, until you reach a row of beech trees in a bank to your left. Go through the gate and continue on through Ladybird Wood, initially through oak, hawthorn, holly, elder and coppiced hazel and then into the conifer section with Wills Neck 1,260 feet (384 metres high) as the background.
Emerging from the wood, bear left and head up Triscombe Combe. Notice the disused quarry to the left and the exposed roots of the beech trees in the bank. The going is moderately steep.
About two thirds of the way up the combe, follow the track to the right going diagonally up and across Marrow Hill, ignoring a subsequent fork to the left.
Continue across Marrow Hill until you reach a stile between two beech trees. Go over the stile and head diagonally to the top corner of the field. There's a good view of the disused Triscombe quarry to your right.
At Triscombe Stone proceed left along the Drove Road. Admire the ancient beech trees which form the avenue of this road.
Pass through the NT boundary at these gates and continue along the road back to the start position. As well as the scene towards Exmoor to the left there are some good views of the combes of the Quantock Forest to the right as you walk back.
End: Crowcombe Park Gate car park, grid ref: ST150375
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- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 3.5 miles (5.75km)
- Time: 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours
- OS Map: Explorer 140; Landranger 181
Walk begins on a level track which can be quite muddy in wet conditions, but then progresses to gentle undulations along the Drove Road; usually dry in all weathers but exposed to the wind. Going up and down the combes is moderately steep but usually fairly dry and sheltered. The path along the bottom of Great Hill is fairly easy going with a few steep sections.
- How to get here:
By foot: From centre of Crowcombe (road junction between church and school) take road up Crowcombe Combe, signposted Over Stowey. A steep climb on a metalled road to cattle grid, then West Hill entrance stile
By bike: Bridleway networks across the surrounding hills or roads from adjacent villages
By bus: First Bus 28 and Webber Bus 18, Taunton to Minehead, alight main road adjacent to Crowcombe village. Walk into village, then follow 'by foot', above
By car: From north take junction 23/24 on M5. At Bridgwater take A39 towards Minehead, follow signs for Over Stowey then Crowcombe. West Hill entrance is on left just prior to descending the hill into Crowcombe. From south take junction 26/25 on M5. At Taunton take A358 to Crowcombe then drive up Crowcombe Combe (see 'by foot'). From Minehead take A39/A358 to Crowcombe, then as above
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