Walk - A Castle and a Cross

2.2 miles (3.5 km)

Selworthy Beacon Viewpoint Car Park - TA24 8HS Selworthy Beacon Viewpoint Car Park

Moderate - Tracks and footpaths, some ascent and descent.

A short walk through picturesque woodland bright with wildflowers in the spring, and vivid at the end of the year in its autumn colours. The route passes a 19th-century memorial cross, coming out onto open heathland with far-reaching views and a well-preserved prehistoric enclosure. Children will love to explore the woods and the ancient ramparts and ditches of the Iron Age hillfort. Take a picnic!

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Exmoor Country House, Porlock

Beautiful Guest House within Exmoor National Park in the enchanting village of Porlock. Evening dinner every night except Sunday.

Sparkhayes Farm Campsite, Porlock

Family site-5 minute walk to the village and its shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants. 20 minute walk down to the sea on the South West Coast Path.

Reines House B&B, Porlock

Benefitting from a peaceful location, yet a short walk from Porlock's numerous shops, pubs and restaurants. Locally sourced produce from sausages to tea and coffe.  Packed lunch on request.

The Cottage B&B, Porlock

A cosy, luxurious, historic and friendly B&B in the heart of the village, close to all amenities

Hillside

Bedroom with view of Hurlestone Point. Double bed, private bathroom and downstairs toilet. Can provide mattress for child. Use of kitchen for DIY breakfast. Sunny back patio.

Sea View B&B, Porlock

4 Star B&B, en suite. TV/free wi-fi. Breakfast Award: gluten free/vegetarian, local produce/homemade
bread/preserves. Drying facilities.

Glen Lodge Luxury B&B, Porlock

Luxury B&B and self catering, set amongst garden, woods and streams. Walks from the door, coming back to a hot fire, cakes and a hot tub.

Baytree B&B, Minehead

Spacious Victorian house in a quiet central location, 5 minutes walk from the seafront and Coast Path. Extensive breakfast menu.

Rosanda House Holiday Flats, Minehead

Comfortable self-contained self-catering flats yards from the start of the South West Coast Path. Great base from which to walk and explore Exmoor & West Somerset.

Sunfield B&B, Minehead

A delightful family-run guest house tucked away in a quiet corner of Minehead. Delicious home cooking and a warm welcome awaits.

Ash Farm, Porlock Hill

We are a working farm just off the Coast Path. Please call 01643 862414 for more details. Porlock Weir pick up if required. Packed lunch on request. 

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Exmoor Rambler, Porlock

Exmoor Rambler stocks a large range of outdor clothing & equipment-waterproofs,walking boots, walking guides,etc. Ideally suited for South West Coast Path.

Minehead Information Centre, The Beach Hotel

We offer a FREE accommodation booking service for Minehead.   We can also assist with booking accommodation in Porlock, Lynton or Lynmouth.  Our Coast Path maps and guides start from £2.00.  

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

Allerford Woods are part of the Holnicote Estate, which was owned by the Acland family from 1745 until 1944, when Sir Richard Acland gave it to the National Trust.

The walk can also be started from Selworthy. From the car park in front of the church go back to the road by the memorial and turn right uphill a little way to pick up the footpath through the gate on your left. Turning right at the junction of paths about 250 yards beyond will take you to 6, from where you can follow the directions as below.

  1. From Selworthy Beacon viewpoint car park (at the very end of the road) take the track downhill in front of you, signed to Selworthy Cross, and when it forks, take the right-hand fork and follow it to the gate into Allerford Woods.

Spread out around the hillside to the right of you are several tracks dating from WWII, when the whole ridge was a training ground for American and Canadian tank troops. The tanks were unloaded at Moor Wood (see the Moor Wood Walk) and the road along the ridge to here was built to enable the troops to bring them here for firing practice. The tracks below were target rails, and the hillside around here and on the northern slopes above the Bristol Channel were dotted with bunkers, observation posts and gun platforms.

  1. Carry on into the woodland, and take the left-hand path a short while later, signposted to the cross. Follow the path downhill, to where it divides. Turn around at the stone seat, and there is the cross behind you, looming above!

The cross was erected in the memory of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 11th Baronet, who was MP for Devon North and Somerset West and a Privy Counsellor. The original inscription on the cross is now weathered and more or less illegible, but it has been transcribed on a wooden plaque beneath the cross.

  1. Take the path to your left (heading south east) as you stand with your back to the cross and follow it as it winds downhill to Allerford Combe.
  2. At the combe, take the top path to Holnicote Combe.
  3. At Holnicote Combe, cross the bridleway running downhill and take the path leading straight onwards, to Katherine's Well. At the next fingerpost, choose Bossington Hill and Selworthy Beacon, and then a little further on, the path signed towards Selworthy.

Katherine's Well, like Agnes Fountain elsewhere in the wood, is a spring which may at one time have been used as a  holy well by passing pilgrims, dedicated first to pagan spirits and later to female saints. Both were turned into formal installations by the Acland family, however, and it is possible that they were named after daughters of the family.

    1. Carry on eastwards past the well, following the path along the edge of the wood, with views out across the green pastures to the brooding heights of Dunkery Beacon. At the next junction follow the top path to the left, signed Holnicote Combe & Hurlstone. Coming to another waymarker, choose Selworthy Combe, and shortly afterwards take the small path signposted Bury Castle, up the stone steps and winding steeply and tortuously uphill through the woods. Stay on the path, with the stone bank on your left, all the way up to the open ground above the woodland, and follow it out onto the grassy area.
    2. Bury Castle is above you and to the right, a series of banks and ditches enclosing and defending what was probably a farming community in the Iron Age, around 400 BC. It was built here to take advantage of the steep hillsides and the outlook afforded over the surrounding countryside, and it consisted of a central enclosure with huts and small enclosures for growing crops, with two main outposts.
    3. Take the path leading out of the castle to the north west, and follow it up through the gorse bushes towards the trees above you to the left.
    4. Join the bridleway coming uphill from your left and carry on up the hill. Ignoring the track to your left a little way beyond (which would lead you back down towards Allerford Combe), keep going uphill towards the roads. A number of paths wander together through the woods up here, but if you keep travelling uphill, you will come to the road.

The memorial hut up here is the “Wind and Weather” hut built by the Acland family in memory of Sir Thomas, the 10th Baronet, father of the Sir Thomas commemorated by the cross. Sir Thomas senior was a great lover of walking and would come up here every Sunday, regardless of the weather.

  1. On the road turn left and return to the car park.

Public transport

Buses run between Minehead and Porlock several times a day and stop at Selworthy Turn, which is a short walk from the alternative starting point for the walk, at Selworthy. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

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