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THE MENDIP RING - Leg 6a
Faulkland to Charlton. 6 Miles
Starting from the village green Grid Ref. ST 739 545
Leave Faulkland village green towards the Pub and turn right up Grove Lane. Where the road bends sharp right, turn left into the bridleway; immediately turn right into another bridleway, Tenantsfield Lane (this can be muddy) Continue straight down through the metal gate on the much narrower path at the bottom of the right field hedge. This crosses the stream, and leads to the road.
Turn left first downhill, then up, cross over the stile by a metal gate on the right just before the grounds of the thatched house "Applethatch." Along the hedge of the short field and over the next stile. Head across this field to just right and below the short line of trees / bushes, and over the stile in front of you. Go up this field and through a metal gate next to a modern house, turn right on the lane to a road with the church up on the left. Continue ahead for a few paces, and where the road turns right, take the enclosed path on your left along the side of the house "Braeside." Follow this across several fields and wooded areas. Where the path leaves the cinder embankment, climb down left to the stile, and continue to right along field edge to reach the road.
Turn left, at the junction; take the right hand turning then the footpath to the left as you reach the bend in the road. Go uphill to reach a road. Follow this road to the A362.
Cross over into Knobsbury Lane. Just past the school turn right into Mells Lane; soon take the drive leading to Huish House, but before you reach the house go through the metal gate on your right down the hill under the old railway. Turn left along the fields below the old railway. Follow this path out to a lane; turn right towards Kilmersdon.
When you come to the village turn right up Jack and Jill's Hill; at the top keep straight ahead then left into Waterside Lane. Cross the main road into a bridleway, follow this down hill over a stream into an enclosed path then take the first path on the left; follow this through the woods to reach the B3139. Turn left uphill. ST 682 522
Points of Historical Interest
From the junction of Grove Lane with Lippiat Hill the field names suggest a Park running down to a boundary at Bladdock Gutter. There is a reference to a tenant called Bladdicks in the Ammerdown Estate papers. Tenantsfield Lane is shown on the earliest 19th century maps. The two fields on the right are Tenants Field Bottom and Tenants Field.
A step aside moment
To the right at the T junction with the road, there is a WWII anti tank trap of seven concrete pyramids in the Wellow Brook. They are from the GHQ Line (Green).
This is now the eastern edge of the Somerset Coalfield
Local demand for coal increased rapidly in the17th century, largely due to the rapid expansion of Bath. In 1763 the Earl of Waldegrave's Old Pit was sunk at Radstock and the story of the local coalfield starts from there. This was a small field, running from Clutton in the west to Pensford in the north and Coleford in the south. In contrast to its larger neighbours in Wales and the Midlands, it did not have heavy industry nearby so profit margins were squeezed by the costs of transporting the coal. With mechanisation the field began to fall behind. It was said it 'became a backwater where men scratched a living in conditions
... that would have been the despair of miners from other areas'. The last pit closed in 1973. There is a local history Museum at Radstock half a mile to the west.
Shoscombe is the across the valley. There was a small pit here which opened in 1828 and closed in 1860. Nothing remains to mark the site.
The viaduct was part of the Bath to Radstock railway line. It closed in 1959.
The remains of the shrunken village of Foxcote, with earthwork platforms and linear banks, are in the next field crossed by the footpath.
The church of St James the Less is a Grade II* early 18th century building. It is open for services only between Easter and October, but there is a description of the interior on the Somerset County Council Historic Environment website.
In the next field it may be possible to see, to the west, two long ranks of miners' cottages at The Tynings at Radstock. Built by the Countess Waldegrave in the mid 19th century, they were considered a very high standard of working men's accommodation.
At ST 710 553 is Foxcote pit, first mentioned in 1853. It was not a successful pit and was said to have been attended by an unusual amount of difficulty and danger. Coal winding ceased in 1931 and the pithead was demolished in the 1950's.
The raised bank to the right of the footpath is the tramroad that was used to take the coal to Lower Writhlington. Out into the road, Lower Writhlington pit was on the opposite side and slightly to the right. The two shafts were sunk in 1829. In 1939 electric pumps replaced the original Cornish beam engine, but the pit remained largely unchanged until Nationalisation. In 1966 the steam winding engine, the last to be used for regular coal work in Somerset, was replaced by an electric engine.
On the right hand side of the walk route here is the site of Writhlington Manor. There is a commemorative plaque on a stone pillar behind the seat. It is not easy to get at but it says 'The Site of Writhlington Manor, home of the Hon. George W Fairfax and his wife Sally Cary. 1785. Also the home of Miss Alex King 1874
N.B. At one time the Cary family lived in Virginia and there Sally was courted by George, the son of their neighbours the Washingtons. However Sally's father discouraged the match because George had little wealth and no future prospects!
On Church Hill, the old school is on the right, as is a Primitive Methodist chapel dated 1913. The village hall and play area, on the left, are on the original main road from Frome, bypassed before 1820 by the present road, the A362.
Writhlington was Writelinctone at Doomsday. Collinson describes it in 1791 as a 'small village of 14 houses'.
The coal batch at Old Mills is in the distance to the right. Looking like a large Christmas pudding, it is the 150 foot conical dirt tip of the Old Mills colliery which closed in 1966. It is between Midsomer Norton and Farrington Gurney.
Coming off Mells Lane, the site of the colliery at Huish is at the left turn in the track. The small stone hut on the right of the path was the weighbridge and Huish Cottage on the left was the pit office. In the lawn here is a manhole cover. It encloses the top of the down shaft. The lease for the Huish pit was signed in 1820 with the Lord Hylton (Jolliffe) of Ammerdown and the first coal was raised in 1824. Coal disposal was by road until 1855, when an incline was laid to the railway sidings at Radstock. This is still visible, marked by a clump of fir trees on the right, just where the path turns left. Huish pit closed in 1912.
The railway bridge was once on the Frome to Radstock line. It is now part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network which will eventually be a continuous route to Southampton with a link to Poole. This section is called The Colliers Way.
Ameslane Farm on the right in Ames Lane is a 17th century building.
On the left is the Free School. Dated 1707, this is a very early attempt to bring education to all. The plaque over the front door commemorates the benefactor, the Rev. Henry Shute. He is also remembered in the adjoining Shute Cottage. The School closed in 1900 and was replaced by the present building at the top of the village.
Kilmersden is now largely a Conservation Area. Called Chynemereston at Doomsday, this was the chief village of the Hundred and a sizeable community. The Jolliffe Arms was originally the Court House and the Lock Up, dated 1785, is now the bus shelter. Much of the village is part of the Ammerdown Estate, the seat of Lord Hylton (Jolliffe) since 1788. There is a guide to the church of St Peter and St Paul in the church. The road was turnpiked by the Buckland Dinham, later Radstock, Trust to create a link road between the Fosse Way and Norton St Philip and there is a toll cottage at the western end of the village. The telephone box is Grade II Listed and described as was the box at Norton St Philip in Leg 5. It is also notable for its colour; the Ammerdown Estate grey. The land for the village hall was donated by Lord Hylton.
Kilmersden is the home of the nursery rhyme 'Jack and Jill went up the Hill' and the story is set on marker stones up the hillside and on the side of the school.
Crossing the road the walk enters an area associated with Charlton Park the original, now demolished, home of the Jolliffe family. On the left of the stream through the woodland at ST 683 525 is a fishpond associated with that House.