Walk Distance: 2 km
Walk Duration: 1 hour with a slow mini walker though you can do it considerably faster at normal walking speed.
Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 141 Cheddar Gorge & Mendip Hills West; OS Landranger 172 Bristol & Bath
Suitable for: Babies in carriers, good little walkers, all the family.
Walk Features: Lakeside start/finish, wildfowl, views across Chew Valley Lake and Chew Valley, a very short section of walking along the side of a fast road plus a short stretch on a quiet country lane, toilets at car park and option to walk to refreshments and playground at tea shop in first lakeside car-park along the lakeside trails, plenty of options to extend the walk.
If you love Chew Valley Lake but are visiting on a day when the World and his wife seem to have had the same idea, then this is a great way of escaping the hoards whilst taking in some gorgeous views of both Chew Valley Lake and the wider Chew Valley scenery. We found this walk on a crisp December day and despite having driven past Knowle Hill many times during my years of living in the area, I was amazed at the views from the top of this seemingly diminutive little hillock that I had somehow never walked up in all that time!
The walk does involve some uphill obviously although it is pretty short and gentle as hills go. Whilst proper toddlers will probably need a bit of a piggy back, those sturdy on their feet should manage most of it at a slow pace. We found the paths slippy from mud coming back down so do wear good shoes or come down from the top of the hill the same way you went up to avoid.
The Knowle Hill from Chew Valley Lake walk starts from the second car park for Chew Valley Lake (the one closest to Bishop Sutton and the most easterly of the two. If you’re in the one with the cafe and playground, you’re in the wrong one though you can walk down to the second one if you have time and energy.
After parking, walk back out of the car park via the exit road through the wood, taking care to watch out for cars. Head over the cattle grid and turn right before crossing the road onto the wide verge on the opposite side. Do take great care here. The road can look empty but cars come very quickly along it.
Walk along the verge for several meters until you reach the footpath sign pointing into the field to your left. Head through the kissing gate and into the field.
Walk up the field following the path by the hedge to your left and passing through another kissing gate half way up the slope. At the top of the field the walk takes you towards some houses. Head for the small gate in the left hand corner just in front of the closest house. This takes you out into a large driveway, past some rather attractive front doors and out onto a country lane.
Turn left here, walking a short distance along the quiet lane before turning left at the footpath sign onto heathland.
From here, keep left and follow the small path that leads uphill through a thicket. The path winds uphill a little way before emerging once more onto the heathland and open hill. If you nip through the hedge following the path to your left at the top here,the field there opens out onto some beautiful views of Chew Valley Lake below.
n.b. There is an option to extend the walk here by heading along the ridge to Denny Lane where you can join the Chew Valley Lake to Chew Magna circular walk or can simply walk down to the first car park and then back along the lakeside. I’ll get round to writing that route up sometime as it would make a nice circular but in the meantime, it shouldn’t be hard to find- just take care on Denny Lane as there isn’t much visibility with the bends and it can be a bit of a rat run for cars.
From the top of the path you climbed up now turn right and follow the grassy track across the heathland of Knowle Hill. A short distance along it, a smaller, narrower track turns off to the right climbing up to the top of Knowle Hill. It’s not a hard climb and well worth heading up – the views that spread out before you over the Chew Valley, Chew Valley Lake and back onto Dundry are really lovely and surprisingly far reaching given the small climb.
From the top, take the left hand path and head downhill. This is a steepish path in a couple of places and can be muddy in winter, though it is pretty short. If you’re walking with a heavy load or tiny ones though without extra helping hands then you might be happier returning the way you came.
At the bottom of the path you join the lane again. Turn right and continue walking past the footpath you took earlier up the hill and back towards the houses you passed. Turn right back down the drive and through the gate into the fields, returning the way you came up.
n.b. If you have an OS Map with you and fancy a longer route back then you can instead head over the fields opposite the bottom of Knowle Hill, turning left not right on the lane and walk round a long loop that drops you down at the far east end of the nature trails and bird hides of Chew Valley Lake, from which you can return to car park 2 along the return route of the Chew Valley Lake Nature Trail walk (so many routes for me to write up still)!
Map of Route:
The walk starts from the second Chew Valley Lake car park, which is the closest car park if coming from Bishop Sutton or the furthest away if approaching via Chew Stoke. There is a pay and display charge during the late Spring and Summer months – see the noticeboards for details. Please note that the car park is closed at dusk.
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