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Walk 2103 - printer friendly version

Shepton Mallet and the Fosse Way Walk

Author - Anthony Maries

Length - 7.5 miles / 12.2 km

Ascent - 720 feet / 218 metres

Grade - easy/mod

Start - OS grid reference ST629432
Lat 51.186814 + Long -2.5322205
Postcode BA4 5QN (approx. location only)

Go to full list of Somerset Walks

A pleasant rural walk in the Eastern Mendips with the route described from Shepton Mallet. However, as it is a circular walk it can be walked in either direction or started from any desired point on the route. Road names are given but on the rural parts of the walk more often than not there is no name board, even at road junctions. The route is almost all along footpaths, with short stretches along very quiet country lanes where there is no convenient alternative. In wet weather, the mud may be somewhat challenging on two sections of this walk.

The start is in Shepton Mallet at Brewery Lane on the A361 opposite Frampton's factory gate (Grid ref. ST629432). Walk down Brewery Lane. At the gates of the former brewery take the rightmost of the two footpaths starting from the gates. Follow round the back of the brewery buildings. The brewery was the Charlton Brewery, which was swallowed up by the John Courage conglomerate and closed down in 1966.

At the Fosse Way, bear left (NNW). The Fosse Way was one of the most important military roads built by the Romans, and marked the boundary between southern and eastern Britain, and western and northern areas where sometimes considerable vigilance was required to maintain rule. South of Shepton, the modern A37 follows the original route created by the Romans, but north of the town the Fosse Way has been reduced to a mere track, and makes a major part of this walk.

Follow the Fosse Way up hill for 1 mile until you reach Bolter's Lane. As you go up higher, extensive views unfold to the south and west. The very impressive viaduct first seen near the start of the walk is the former Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway, which fell victim to Beeching's axe in 1966. Further distant is Glastonbury Tor. Quite often you can see the Quantocks in the far distance. At the end of the track turn right into Bolter's Lane and continue for 200 yards to Yellingmill Lane, where you turn left. After 100 yards, rejoin the Fosse Way, again a track. Follow the track up Beacon Hill, which as you go into the woods winds to the left to avoid the steepest part of the hill.

During the Roman occupation there would have been no trees on the hill, nor hedges or stone walls, and the hill would have been the perfect viewpoint to keep a look out for trouble. Just past the top of the hill you reach the Old Frome Road. Not far from where the Fosse crosses the Old Frome Road, there is an ancient tumulus and standing stone, copiously inscribed with ancient graffiti. There is a certain amount of charm in the engravings of long-dead Victorian lovers, however most people no longer go equipped with a stout knife when they go for a walk.

Cross the road and continue down the Fosse on the far, northern side of the hill. By a field boundary take the footpath to the right (E), which after crossing two fields turns into a track (Three Ashes Lane). Continue down the track, crossing a lane after 700 yards. In the garden of Box Tree Cottage, there is a ruined chapel. This is not actually the ancient ruin it appears to be, but a very convincing faux replica built for the householder. After a further 600 yards bear right (SSW) at a crossing of footpaths.

Follow the path across a succession of small fields until you reach the junction of Bolter's Lane and the Old Frome Road. The Waggon and Horses pub is 150 yards on the right down the Old Frome Road. Follow Bolter's Lane for 150 yards to a crossroads. Bear left here down King's Road. Continue for 500 yards until you reach Newman Street on the left (SE). Follow it to Newman Street Farm. By the farm, take the footpath leading in the SW direction, crossing two fields until you reach a crossing of footpaths. Bear right here (W) and cross the field to again reach King's Road by a stone stile.

Turn left down the King's Road and continue for 200 yards to the road junction by the Poacher's Pocket. I can thoroughly recommend my local to anyone who happens to be passing and would encourage them to stop to sample the excellent real ales and ciders. The Poachers also holds a beer festival and a cider festival, and is regularly frequented by local musicians, occasionally even including myself. From the Poachers, bear right, walk past the first junction with a country lane and take the second immediately afterwards, a quiet cul-de-sac with bungalows. At the end of the cul-de-sac, go down the path between gardens and bear L (SSW) down past Pitts Wood. Cross two fields and on to another quiet dead-end lane in the village of Doulting.

At the south end of the lane turn right and go down the hill. The lane peters out after 100 yards. Continue on to the footpath which goes between two small pools. This is the source of the River Sheppey, and is fed by St Aldhelm's well, named after the eighth century scholar-bishop of Sherborne. Two leaflets available in the church relate various local traditions about the well. At the other side of the pool follow the path to the left (WSW) which crosses a succession of small fields alongside the infant River Sheppey. Cross Bodden Lane, then cross an old cider orchard, sadly no longer maintained, to return to the Fosse Way at the back of the brewery, and the starting point for the walk.

While in Shepton, be sure to go and see the stone sheep on the roundabout south of the town where the A361 meets the A37. Made by a local sculptor, the sheep have achieved minor celebrity status.

Pubs: Thatched Cottage ST630432, Waggon and Horses ST649457, Poacher's Pocket ST649440

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