Stourhead King Alfred's Tower walk
Stourhead, Stourton, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 6QDRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This is a circular walk of historic interest which takes you up through beautiful woodlands to King Alfred’s Tower and returning through Park Hill Camp Iron Age Hill Fort and Turner’s Paddock.
King Alfred’s Tower is a 160ft high folly, designed by Henry Flitcroft for Henry Hoare II in 1772. It is believed to mark the site where King Alfred the Great rallied his troops in 878. The tower commemorates the accession of George III to the throne in 1760 and the end of the Seven Years War.
- Bus stop
Start: Visitor Reception, grid ref: ST 77838 34024
From the main car park, go through visitor reception. Take the zig zag path down to the Spread Eagle Inn. Walk through the car park and courtyard. Watching out for traffic, turn left here and walk down the road, passing St. Peter’s Church on your left. Continue along the road until just beyond the Rock Arch, where you turn right.
Continue walking with Turner’s Paddock lake and the waterwheel on your left. Keep following the track beside the cattle grid, past Beech Cottage on your right and over a stile. Go a little further on the main track and where it forks, take the right hand track and go through the gate. Follow the track along the top of the field. The ruins of Tucking Mill and cottages are on your left.
Go over the stile at the gate and through the mixed conifer woods, keeping on the main track and going straight ahead at any junctions. After a steep ascent of approximately 1 mile the track will come out on to part of the 18th century Terrace Ride. Turn left here and walk for approx. ½ mile until you reach King Alfred’s Tower.
The tower is a 160ft-high folly designed by Henry Flitcroft for Henry Hoare II in 1772, on the site where it's believed that King Alfred the Great rallied his troops. It commands spectacular views over the three counties of Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset. Please look at the Stourhead pages for opening times.
On leaving the Tower, retrace your steps along the Terrace ride (following the blue waymarkers) to where the woodland area on your right ends. Turn right, down the forestry track on the edge of the woodland, keeping the field on your left.
If you're walking this route between April and July, you're likely to see a beautiful array of orchids growing in the grasses surrounding it, including the common spotted variety, which varies from white to dark pink in colour with tiny, spotted marking on the petals.
Keep following the main track as it bears 90 degrees to the right. Walk along the Broad Ride through the woodland. After approx. ½ a mile you will reach Park Hill Camp Iron Age Hill Fort. Go straight through the hill fort (if sheep are grazing, dog walkers will need to follow a clearly marked small diversion). After exiting the hill fort by the information panel, keep on the main track for another ½ mile and then follow it round to the right. Descend the hill and go through the gate into Turner’s Paddock.
Continue along the track, bearing left where you re-join the main track. Go through the gate beside the cattle grid, passing Turner’s Paddock lake and the waterwheel on your right. As you reach the road, turn left going under the Rock Arch. Being mindful of traffic, continue along the road passing St Peter’s Church on your right. At the Spread Eagle Inn, turn right and go through the courtyard and car park and follow the footpath that zig zags up the hill to visitor reception and the car park.
St Peter’s Church dates from 1290, is Grade I listed and also has several Grade I listed Memorials, most of them from the Hoare family. The beautiful organ was been recently restored and can be heard playing during services.
If you are starting your walk from King Alfred’s Tower car park, then please head to the tower and go from point 4.
End: Visitor Reception, grid ref: ST 77838 34024
In partnership with
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 5.5 miles (8.9km)
- Time: 2 hours
- OS Map: Landranger 183, Explorer 142
Mainly through woodland areas, along gravel, grass and natural forest tracks. There are steep climbs at the beginning of the walk and the paths can be boggy in places, so sturdy footwear is advisable. You're free to walk your dog along this route, but please do keep them under control at all times for wildlife conservation and due to cattle grazing in Six Wells valley. Unfortunately this route is not suitable for wheelchair users.
- How to get here:
By bike: Wiltshire Cycle Way runs through estate
By train: Gillingham 6½ miles; Bruton 7 miles
By car: At Stourton, off B3092, 3 miles north-west of Mere (A303), 8 miles south of Frome (A361)
By bus: Frome Minibuses 82 Warminster to Mere; First 58/158 Shaftesbury to Wincanton (passing Gillingham train station), alight Zeals, 1¼ mile
- Contact us