Walk in the Mendip Hills: The wild moorland of Black Down

Wild ponies on the moorland of Black Down

The highest peak in the Mendip Hills, Black Down offers an escape to wild moorland, charming valleys and striking landscapes. Black Down also features breathtaking views of the Mendip Hills, the Somerset hills, the Bristol Channel, and on a clear day, South Wales.

Black Down offers a stunning walk across wild moorland, the heather providing a contrast to the backdrop of vibrant green hills. At the foot of the hill, this circular walk also features charming valleys with cute streams and lush woodland. The Black Down walk is easy to follow. In the winter and in wet weather, this walk can become cold, windy and very muddy, so be prepared.

Location: Black Down, Mendip Hills, Somerset

Walk difficulty: Easy

Time: 2 to 2 ½ hours

Distance: 4.5 miles (7.2 km)

Enjoy breathtaking views of Somerset

The Black Down walk starts at the Burrington Ham car park outside the villages of Burrington Combe and Blagdon. After walking along a country path to the Black Down area, you first spot the imposing form of the tallest hill in the Mendips. Featuring heather, wild grass and rocky paths, Black Down thrills more with its wild looks than its elevation.

View of Blagdon Lake and the Somerset Hills from Beacon Batch
Views from Beacon Batch

The walk first takes you up Black Down, and with each step, reveals the landscape surrounding the hill. As you climb Beacon Batch, the highest peak on Black Down and in the Mendips Hills, standing at 325m, you can admire breathtaking 360° views. From the Mendip Hills to Blagdon Lake, the Chew Valley, Chew Valley Lake, the Somerset hills, the Bristol Channel, and on a clear day, South Wales, the scenery throughout the walk, but especially from Beacon Batch, is spectacular.

From Beacon Batch, you walk across the wild moorland and among the wild grass (and bogs) that make up Black Down. Along the way, you can spot Bronze Age burial mounds as well as meet wild ponies and cattle. Heading west towards the forest of Rowberrow Warren, you follow the ridge of the hill. As you approach the woodland, you can enjoy even more stunning views of the Mendips Hills and the Bristol Channel.

 Escape to the charming valleys of Black Down

The Black Down walk then heads downhill, following the edge of the delightful forest. As you walk down the hill, you can appreciate the elevation of Black Down and enjoy the changing landscape. Heather and wild grass give way to verdant shrubs and charming valleys.

Views of the wood of Rowberrow Warren, the Somerset Levels and the Bristol Channel from Black Down
Walking along the forest of Rowberrow Warren

As you reach the edge of Black Down at the bottom of the hill, the walk next leads you across a series of valleys. You enter a completely different world, featuring lush woodland, cute streams and hidden caves. From there, you can glimpse the verdant hills of Somerset and a sliver of the views you could admire from the top of the hill. You can also spot the tall cliffs of Burrington Combe and the goats inhabiting its crevices.

The Black Down walk then takes you back to the starting point at the bottom of Beacon Batch, and heads back along the country path to the car park. From there, you can explore the Mendip Hills further, or continue your walk along the paths of Burrington Combe.

Black Down walk instructions

1. From the Burrington Ham car park, cross and walk up the road. Turn right at the Black Down sign, following the public bridle path.

2. Go through the gate and walk straight ahead directly up the hill, first following the man-made grassy path, and then the rocky path. At the junction, turn right toward the top of the hill and the waypoint.

3. From the Beacon Batch waypoint, veer left, taking the straight path and aiming for the woods. At the fork, veer left, keeping the woodland straight ahead. At the next junction, turn right and then immediately left, again aiming for the forest.

4. When you reach the woodland fence, turn right onto a downhill path and keep the woods to your left. At the next three crossroads, continue straight ahead on the downhill path.

5. At the T-junction, turn right and keep the fence to your left. Turn right at the fork, following the sign for Limestone Link. At the crossroads, continue straight ahead, following the path down into a series of valleys.

6. Cross the stream and veer left onto the uphill path. Cross a second stream and continue on the uphill path, keeping the fence to your left.

7. When you reach the bottom of the hill where the walk started (in step 2), retrace your steps back to the car park by turning left, going through the gate and following the path back to the road and the car park.

Find the walk itinerary pdf fileBlack Down walk by adragonsescape.com

Download the walk GPX file: Black Down walk on my.viewranger.com

Walking up the hill of Black Down with views of the Mendip Hills and the Somerset Levels
Views of the Mendip Hills from Black Down

Black Down walk details

Location: Black Down, Mendip Hills, Somerset

Walk difficulty: Easy

Time: 2 to 2 ½ hours with regular stops

Distance: 4.5 miles (7.2 km)

ItineraryBlack Down walk by adragonsescape.com (pdf file)

Ascent: Somewhat steep

Trail condition: Good, but very muddy in winter and in wet weather.

Accessibility: Not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. Accessible for mountain bikes.

Parking: Burrington Ham car park (BS40 7TZ)

Facilities: Toilets, shops and pubs in Burringtom Combe and Bladgon

Notes: Please be mindful of livestock and keep your dogs on a lead.

Explore more: Walks in the Mendip Hills

Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Mendip Hills provide the perfect escape to rocky hills, grassy ridges and stunning scenery. Located near Bath and Bristol, the Mendip Hills offer an ideal day trip or weekend getaway.

 The spectacular Cheddar Gorge

One of the best walks in the Mendip Hills is the Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top walk. Featuring arresting limestone cliffs and striking scenery, Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in England. The Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top walk begins from the town of Cheddar and takes you along the cliff edge, offering spectacular views of the Somerset hills, the town of Cheddar, Glastonbury Tor and the Bristol Channel. Find out more with the Cheddar Gorge walk guide by A Dragon’s Escape.

Spectacular views from Cheddar Gorge
Views from Cheddar Gorge

The breathtaking Crook Peak

The Crook Peak and Wavering Down walk is another top walk in the Mendip Hills. Leading you through quaint villages, verdant fields and lush woods to arresting rocky peaks, this circular walk boasts breathtaking 360° views of the Mendip Hills, the Somerset Levels, the Bristol Channel, North Devon and South Wales. Find out more with the Crook Peak walk guide by A Dragon’s Escape.

The enchanting Bladgon Lake

Blagdon Lake offers a quiet walk along its resplendent shores. Hugged between the shimmering waters and surrounding lush forest, the Blagdon Lake walk enjoys splendid views of the lake and offers a peaceful escape. The picturesque village of Blagdon is also worth a visit, and features beautiful scenery of the lake and the Mendip Hills.

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Reference: Mendip Hills AONB

Featured image: Wild ponies on the moorland of Black Down

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