Mileaters "Ham" it up
On a fine autumnal day 16 Mileaters (and Lulu) ventured into Somerset for a rare non-Dorset walk.
From "The Prince of Wales" perched atop Ham Hill Country Park, we began our circuit with a tour of the impressive ramparts of the Iron Age Hill Fort, some 5km in circumference and enclosing 200 acres, affording superb views over the Somerset countryside and to Pilsdon Pen in the west.
After a pleasant descent through cooling woods, we turned eastwards to slowly ascend the sheltered Witcombe Valley, site of a deserted medieval village but still sporting its village pond now only supporting the resident herd of Devon Reds. A welcome coffee break after the ascent and we could recover on the way down into Montacute, passing the dove cote, fishpond and ornate gatehouse of the old priory, the latter now a fine private house.
A short testing climb followed around the base of the former Norman castle that was built on top of St. Michael's Hill, at 450ft the Mons Acutus (steep hill) that gave Montacute its name. More woods and a short flight of steps and we suddenly found ourselves in the garden of The Prince of Wales for our reward of a reviving lunch looking down over Montacute and our return route.
A wonderful 5 mile walk of great scenic beauty and with much historical interest, greatly enhanced by the splendid weather.