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Horner Wood ancient trees walk


Explore this extensive ancient wood pasture where you will see ancient oak pollards, an impressive oak tree over 500 years old, as well as a variety of wildlife that make their home amongst these magnificent trees.

An ancient oak tree in Horner Wood on the Holnicote Estate, Somerset
Step back in time and walk amongst ancient oaks National Trust Images


Map route for Horner Wood ancient trees walk
Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey


Aller Combe meadow parking area, grid ref: SS895431


Begin the walk at the parking area at Aller Combe meadow. This is a popular picnic spot on the East Water. As you leave the meadow, take a closer look at lungwort rare lichen on an ash tree opposite the parking space.

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Turn right, following the road for 55yd (50m) downstream. The muddy hollows on the right are deer wallows, where the stags come in the early morning to attend to their personal appearance. Continue down the road for another 218 yd (200m), passing another deer wallow. On the left, in the woods, are ancient oak pollards. Up among a jumble of rocks on the left is another magnificent oak pollard.

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Turn left off the road at a wooden barrier. Follow the track, then take a left fork away from the river after about 55yd (50m). Walk steeply uphill passing under a large maiden oak festooned with tree ferns. (A maiden is a term for a tree that has not been pollarded.) In spring and early summer listen out for wood warblers, later on you may see pied flycatchers.


Emerge from the woodland onto open heathland, known as Cloutsham Ball ('ball' is a local name for a hill). Now turn right, where the paths cross at a wooden bench. Keep a look out for red deer and Exmoor ponies. You will notice lots of grassy ant hills at this point of the walk. These show that it used to be open heath land here, but as the number of sheep grazing has declined so the heath land is beginning to turn to woodland.


After about 218yd (200m) you will see a faint path on the left leading up to some scree, or bare rocks on the slopes above you. Turn up here and follow it for about 27yd (25m). Up on your left you will notice an oak tree, known as the General. This is a good spot for adders too, so take care where you tread.

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Now, retrace your steps back to the main path, turn left and continue on your walk, heading back into the woods. On either side of the path are more oak pollards, perhaps once cut for making charcoal. You will reach a sign-post on the bridleway to Cloutsham, turn left toward Cloutsham and walk uphill with the Horner valley below you on your right. Keep to the main footpath (do not fork left on to the bridleway), passing through a grove of ancient oak trees and dead hulks. Pass a pollard on your left with a mountain ash growing in it.

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At the next T junction, turn left. Look back at breathtaking views out over Porlock Bay and Hurlestone Point. Carry on until you reach a blue-topped post, turn right out over the moor land and at the next junction keep right passing a large Monterey Pine on the way.

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When you get back to the cross paths at the wooden bench, turn right and follow the path back down to the road. When you reach the road, turn right back to Aller Combe meadow.


Aller Combe meadow parking area, grid ref: SS895431

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Horner Wood ancient trees walk


Some steep sections at the start, otherwise easy walking on good paths. Walking boots advised.

Dogs welcome.

Horner Wood ancient trees walk

Contact us

Horner Wood ancient trees walk

How to get here

Holnicote Estate, Selworthy, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 8TJ
By train

Minehead 5 miles (8km). West Somerset Railway, Bishops Lydeard to Minehead, then take Quantock 39 Minehead to Porlock, Mon to Fri, alight Allerford or Selworthy.

By road

A39 Minehead to Porlock, 4 miles (6.4km) west of Minehead and 1 mile (1.6km) east of Porlock.

By foot
The Coleridge Way and The Macmillan Way both pass through the estate.
By bus

Quantock 300 Minehead to Lynmouth daily, alight Holnicote or Allerford. Quantock 39 Minehead to Porlock, Mon to Fri, alight Allerford or Selworthy.

By bicycle

A39 Minehead to Porlock cuts through the estate. This is a fairly busy A road.

Horner Wood ancient trees walk

Facilities and access

  • Toilets available at Horner
  • Dogs welcome under close control