Street to Wells Back to Somerset Way index Cheddar to Temple Cloud

The Walk

Today's route follows a named route, the West Mendip Way, from Wells to Cheddar along the scarp of the Mendip Hills. Despite it being a recognized route the West Mendip Way is not as well waymarked, and not as well maintained, as one would really expect. I had some access and route finding problems on both occasions that I've walked this route although there were far fewer problems in 2008 than there were in 1994. 

Most of the highlights of this section occur within the first four miles, during which we visit the hill of Arthur's Point, the nationally famous showcaves and museum at Wookey Hole, and the superb limestone scenery of Ebor Gorge. After that the West Mendip Way progresses through standard farming country, wandering down to the foot of the scarp at Draycott before tackling a second uphill section around Batcombe Farm and Bradley Cross. We come ultimately to Cheddar (yes, from where Cheddar cheese is named), and if you've got here in good time you might like to wander along the gorge - one of Britain's finest - and / or visit the Cheddar caves. Buses can whisk you from Cheddar to Wells or to Weston Super Mare.

Map: OS 1:25000 Explorer 141 (Cheddar Gorge & Mendip Hills West)

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Wells, a pleasant cathedral town in the north-eastern corner of Somerset, sits at the foot of the Mendip scarp. The town was described on the previous page, Street to Wells.

Wells market square

Cathedral Close and the exit gate onto the Bath road

Bath Road and Lovers Walk, the route out of Wells town centre

Our first task is to find the commencement of the route from the town centre. We shall be following the West mendip Way, which for this first section is coincident with the Monarch's Way. It's not entirely straightforward. The WMW is obvious on the map but not so easy to access unless you follow the directions closely. Yesterday you reached the market square by coming through the arch from the Bishop's Palace. Today you need to go through the other arch; the one on the left as you look from the square, which gives access to the cathedral close. If you've not already done so, now is the time for a good poke around the catherdral precincts. Don't miss Vicar's Close, which was depicted on yesterday's walk page. Now, you need to exit the cathedral green from the gate at its northwest corner and walk for some 250m along the A39 Bath road, before turning left into Lovers Walk, a narrow walled lane that is signposted as a public footpath.

Lovers Walk and the footbridge

Walk along Lovers Walk, negotiating the dogleg. After some 300 metres turn right to cross a footbridge over the A371 main road, which is sunk into a cutting. Once you're over the footbridge the West Mendip Way crosses the grounds of a school. The path runs between the school buildings at the far side of the grounds.

The path across the school grounds

The route through the residential area beyond the school

Beyond the school the path runs along the left-nand side of a small field (first image above) to come out into Ash Lane. The route of the West mendip Way then makes use of a series of narrow lanes threading its way uphill between houses. This is an intricate section but a delightful one. The first section of lane lays directly opposite when you reach Ash Lane, and comes out shortly afterwards in Orchard Lea. Cross to a second lane, which runs between the back gardens of Hill Side Close (to the left) and Fir Tor Avenue (to the right).

The lanes through the Ash Grove estate

You've now left the northern edge of Wells. The top end of the lane comes out onto a road serving Underwood Quarry (slighly uphill to your left) and Model Farm (half a mile ahead).

The northern edge of Wells; the Underwood Quarry road

The next objective is the hilltop of Arthur's Point. The official route turns left at a prominent footpath sign (image below) to skirt Underwwod Quarry to the north.

Footpath sign by Underwood Quarry

Underwood Quarry road

The Way then curves right into Lime Kiln Lane, leaving it at ST538470 for a footpath up the hill to the north. A glance at the map shows that there are several alternatives. The most obvious goes straight ahead from the footpath sign and then hugs the edge of a wood on its right before turning left to approach the hill from the east. It's also possible to bypass Arthur's Point, should you wish, by staying on Lime Kiln Lane (which the WMW rejoins further up). A further alternative bypasses Arthur's Point to the east, taking the Monarch's Way just to the left of Model Farm to reach Tyning's Lane beyond, from where you approach Wookey Hole from the east. But I'm going to describe the official WMW route.

Arthur's Point

Follow the Underwood Quarry road around the south side of Milton Hill. Before long it turns to the right and becomes Lime Kiln Lane. At a prominent junction (grid ref ST538470) leave the lane for a footpath straight ahead, which then heads steeply uphill while curving around to the right.

Lime Kiln Lane

The footpath to Arthur's Point

The path enters tree cover for a distance; it seems far longer than the map suggests. Eventually you come out into a clearing between the trees (the Americans would call this a "bald"). You're on Arthur's Point, elevation unknown. The views are a bit restricted due to the nearby trees, but much of Wells should be in view and you will not fail to spot Tor Hill at Glastonbury, five miles to the south. The Somerset Levels are in fact dotted with strange, isolated conical hills - the nearby Hay Hill, southwest of Wells, is a fine example.

The approach to Arthur's Point

Arthur's Point

The view from Arthur's Point

Cross the clearing and follow the path down the far side of Arthur's Point to reach Lime Kiln Lane at the foot. This section is surprisingly intricate and, once again, seems much longer than it appears on the map. Once you reach the lane take the path running north, down a grassy slope, to the village of Wookey Hole.

Descending to Lime Kiln Lane and the path to Wookey Hole village

Wookey Hole

Wookey Hole village

Wookey Hole village is pleasant, though tiny. It's dominated, of course, by the major tourist attraction on its doorstep - Wookey Hole cave, which is well worth a visit and for which you should set aside a couple of hours.

Wookey Hole entrance

Wookey Hole was originally a natural limestone cave, and there is evidence of early habitation as well as legends of witchcraft and paganism. Explorers began tackling the caves in the 1930s and the system is now known to be one of the most extensive in Britain. Some passages within the section open to the public have been artificially made or enlarged, but a tour of the caves is a fascinating interlude. Remember to buy a ticket at the visitor centre at the car park before walking up the short wooded valley to the cave entrance. The cave exit routes you into a building complex containing a museum of gaming machines, a mirror maze and the Wookey Hole paper mill. Whether or not you visit the caves, you can make use of the cafeteria and toilet block adjacent to the car park.

  Wookey Hole website

Leaving Wookey Hole village

From Wookey Hole walk along the main road out of the village to the west.

Ebbor Gorge

Some 300m further on you come to the entrance to Ebbor Gorge off to the right. Ebbor Gorge is a small but very picturesque incursion into the line of the Mendip scarp. It is wooded, and the lower reaches of lush meadow grass lead fairly quickly to the gorge proper, a steep walled limestone ravine.

The lower reaches of Ebbor Gorge

Ebbor Gorge

The true route of the West Mendip Way leaves the gorge and climbs the slopes to the right, but I recommend that you stick to the route through the upper gorge, which is packed with interest. The path requires a little care, particularly after rain, but is nothing a seasoned walker won't be happy with. The path swings to the right near the head of the gorge, and heads through fairly dense woodland. Shortly afterwards you reach a path crossroads; the path heading left-right is the West Mendip Way, which you rejoin here. Turn left to follow it.

Ebbor Gorge, upper reaches

Eventually the path emerges from the tree cover. Follow it past Higher Pitts Farm and then join the straight green lane of Dursdon Drove, heading west-northwest.

Leaving Ebbor Gorge

Higher Pitts Farm and Dursdon Drove


After running along Dursdon Drove for a while the West Mendip Way leaves it to the right (north) to follow a series of field boundaries out to an unclassified motor road just short of the village of Priddy. You could choose instead to stay on Dursdon Drove, which emerges onto the same road around 500m further south, an alternative that is no longer and rather more straightforward. Follow this road, which is named Pelting Drove, into Priddy.

The West Mendip Way south of Priddy

Priddy is a small, scattered village sitting atop the Mendip scarp at a general elevation of 240m or about 800ft. It's centred on a large triangular green and hosts an annual folk festival each July. There's an inn but no other facilities.


Donkey sculpture!

Take the road to the west-northwest. About 500m out of the village, where the road bends to the right, hold your direction along a footpath running diagonally across a couple of pastures. You emerge onto another unclassified road, running just south of west. Follow this road to a junction and then, as before, follow a footpath continuing in the same direction.

The footpath hugs the enclosure boundary to the first corner, then tends away slightly to the right. You cross a series of fairly featureless pastures; keep your eye on the map and navigate by field boundaries. The terrain slopes very gently downhill. You come alongside another field boundary and then reach the scarp slope once more. Continue to navigate by field boundaries and follow the line of the path down a ridge, alongside a field, and into a lane that drops you smartly into the village of Draycott.


Draycott sits astride the main A371 Wells - Cheddar road at the foot of the Mendip scarp. The Wells - Cheddar bus service passes through the village, should you wish to end the walk here. I originally thought that Draycott had no facilities but a local resident has put me right - she says, "there is a local shop/post office in "The Street" which is just off the main A371 just opposite the lane which comes down off the Mendips.  It stocks all the usual food and drink plus newspapers.  Further along the main road to Cheddar on the left there is a farm shop called "Strawberry Farm" which is open between late spring and late Autumn."

Walk northwest through the village centre. The road forks. the main road going to the left. If you wish to visit the shop at Strawberry Farm (which, incidentally, also serves hot drinks) then stay on the main road to the left. The lane to the right is known as Top Road and provides a pleasant low level alternative into Cheddar if the weather is poor, but the West Mendip Way proper goes off right just past the edge of the village, to Batcombe Farm. A word of warning - it's easy to get lost just beyond Batcombe Farm, the line of the path being poorly marked both on the map and the ground. The most confusing point is a small tree-fringed pond just beyond the farm. You need to find the point where the footpath crosses the wall to your left, after the farm buildings but before the pond. It's easy to miss. Keeping the pond to your right begin to make your way uphill.

The WMW now runs up a shallow grassy coombe, marked as Batcombe Hollow on the map. The WMW doglegs right and left to run up the spur of land to the right, though you may find a track keeping to the hollow. The route runs up out of the hollow onto the shallower slopes towards the top of the Mendip scarp, turning half left to approach the northwest corner of the pasture, then turning left again to run along the north side of a series of walls and fences.

The West mendip Way northwest of Batcombe Hollow

The last section of this path runs into a little hollow fringed by a ribbon of trees. If it's been raining recently then it could well be sloppy here. Once you come out into the open again the path turns half left and begins to run downhill towards Bradley Cross.

Bradley Cross

The approach from the top of the scarp to Bradley Cross first runs down to where a spot height of 107 metres is marked on the map, then curves to the right, tending to hug the contour around a spur of pasture. Hop over into the next pasture at its western end and then follow the path around to the left, running down a little track into the locality of Bradley Cross.

Scenery at Bradley Cross

Bradley Cross is just a scattering of cottages strung along a minor road, the continuation of Top Lane from Draycott. From Bradley Cross another footpath climbs the slopes to the north and joins and east-west track from where there are three alternative routes down into Cheddar, but it's far more straightforward to follow the lane down into the village direct.


Cheddar is of course where the world famous Cheddar cheese comes from, and it is possible to visit the creamery to see cheese being made. Scenery fans will be sure to make straight for Cheddar Gorge, one of the finest limestone ravines in Britain; it's rather a pity that the B3135 road runs through the gorge, but the heights either side of the ravine give splendid views. Tomorrow's route hugs the southeast side of the gorge. At the foot of the gorge are two showcaves; Gough's Cave and the smaller Cox's Cave. The Cheddar Caves & Gorge company looks after both caves and also charges a toll for the path up to the lookout point, called Jacob's Ladder. If you merely want to ascend to the top of the gorge then don't buy a ticket; walk round back into the Wells road and find the public footpath up to the same point. There's a good cafeteria at the foot of the gorge where you can get that welcome walk's end pot of tea. The buses leave from an adjacent road called Tweentown, otherwise there's some accommodation in the village.

  Cheddar website
  Cheddar Caves and Gorge

Street to Wells Back to Somerset Way index Cheddar to Temple Cloud

This page last updated 19th March 2011