Walk Duration: 1hr 15
OS Map: OS Landranger 172 Bristol & Bath; OS Explorer 154 Bristol West & Portishead;
Suitable for: Babies in backpacks (a few stiles to climb); older children;
Walk features: waterfall, field walking, pretty views, historic St. Andrews Church
Chew Stoke Waterfall Walk takes you through the heart of pretty Chew Stoke village in Somerset and out into the gentle rural countryside surrounding it. The walk passes a small waterfall hidden away in a copse - perfect paddling territory for children on warm summer days and a truly magical spot to visit on early spring days when the sunlight peeps through the trees overhead and lights up the gleaming white heads of the carpets of snowdrops on the banks of the stream. This was a favourite childhood walk of mine and the waterfall itself still today reminds me of the fairy glades and hidden places of old tales -just like something out of the Bridei books by Juliet Marrillier or other such modern day fairy tale writers.
This walk is a good version for winter walks when the ground is muddy, as it completes the loop on quiet country lanes. In drier weather walkers may prefer to return via the fields, turning right rather than left at Lower Strode and passing on footpaths behind Knoll Hill. Check back here in a few months time and I may have had the chance to write up that route too.
The Chew Stoke Waterfall Walk starts from St. Andrews Church on Church Lane, Chew Stoke. St. Andrews is itself worth a quick visit before setting off: constructed in the 15th century, this Grade II listed building is home to a veritable host of angels with 154 angels carved in wood and stone to be found the church interior. Chew Stoke was also home to the famous Bilbie bellmaker family who made bells for all over the West Country. Edward Bilbie's first bell is still to be heard ringing out from St. Andrews Church today.
Walk past St. Andrews Church on your right and continue past Church Farm. Take the small lane to your left marked by a footpath sign. Pass through the kissing gate and walk down the impressive avenue of trees beyond. If you turn and look back here you will have a pretty view of the Chew Stoke Church's spire framed by the trees.
At the end of the avenue, turn right along the path by the hedge, following the public footpath sign. Walk on and continue through the kissing gate. The path continues straight and you will come to another kissing gate beyond.Go through this and continue.
Just before reaching the end of the next field and another kissing gate, there is a small path marked to the left hand side. Take this and follow it downwards to the riverside where it emerges into a small copse, revealing Chew Stoke waterfall and some perfect paddling for little ones.
The path leads on past the waterfall itself before climbing back up the bank and rejoining the main path in the field above. The path is quite overgrown here (take care with babies in backpacks) and if the weather is particularly wet and muddy, the path by the waterfall can be a little slippy and precarious, particularly on the return uphill slope. If so, you can retrace your steps to where you left the main path and simply walk on through the kissing gate. The waterfall path will rejoin this main track just beyond the gate.
Continue on the path and pass over the little footbridge. Follow the hedge on your left and continue on the path as it passes through the fields and over two further stiles.
Finally you will see Lower Strode Farm building ahead of you. The path passes through a parking area for the farm and another gate onto the lane beyond. Turn left here (unless returning via the fields behind Knoll Hill, in which case turn right), passing Lower Strode Farm on your left hand side. The lane climbs steeply uphill, passing Manor Farm near the top on the left hand side and finally flattening out as the lane reaches a t-junction at the top of Gravel Hill. Turn left along the lane and enjoy the pretty views over the gentle green rolling hills of the Chew Valley. The quiet lane weaves past some remote houses before descending sharply back down to Chew Stoke. As you walk back into Chew Stoke village, you will pass Chew Stoke Primary School on your left-hand side, where the separate entrances once assigned for boys and girls can still be seen marked into the facade of the building. Chew Stoke School is also home to another Bilbie bell.
The lane brings you to the village centre and the Packhorse Bridge. Turn left and walk over the ford (nicknamed locally the Irish Bridge because the water flows over it more often than under it) or if the water is up, continue instead over the Packhorse Bridge and The Street.
At the corner of Church Lane, turn left passing the ornate Old Rectory on your right hand side and the Church Hall on your left. Climb the small hill back up to the walk start at St. Andrews Church.
Map of Route:
St. Andrews Church, Chew Stoke is located on Church Lane, Chew Stoke. There is some limited free street parking on Church Lane and the surrounding village streets.
Chew Stoke is poorly connected by public transport but there are two buses (no. 672) a day from Bristol Bus Station, passing Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station and stopping at Radford Factory, Chew Stoke approximately 35 minutes later. The start of the walk is a ten minute stroll along Pilgrims Way.
View Chew Stoke Waterfall Walk in a larger map
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