Exploring one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds, the Castle Combe & Nettleton Mill walk enchants with its honey-coloured cottages, bubbling streams and peaceful woodland. If you’re after a short woodland walk in the Cotswold countryside surrounding Castle Combe, then this circular trail is for you.
Starting at the visitor car park, this Cotswold walk first crosses the Castle Combe golf course and leads you along the By Brook stream to Nettleton Mill. This circular walk then takes you through woodland and finishes in the heart of the picturesque village.
Location: Castle Combe, Wiltshire
Walk difficulty: Easy
Time: 1 ½ hours
Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5 km)
From the old school to the golf course
Starting at the Castle Combe visitor car park, this Cotswold walk first takes you along a country road to a row of quaint cottages, the last one being the old school. Now a lovely home, the school operated there from 1826 to 1998. Please watch out for oncoming traffic when walking along the road.
This circular walk then leads you along the edge of the golf course, through ancient woodland and back across the course. Watch out for flying golf balls as you walk across the course. And watch out for overgrown nettles and brambles in the woods. I’ve crossed the golf course many times and never had any issues (so far). In the forest, when you reach a stone wall on your left, look out for an unofficial viewpoint with a break in the trees. The viewpoint offers obstructed views of the Castle Combe village and the church spire.
The Manor House & the motte-and-bailey castle
The golf course is situated in the grounds of the Castle Combe Manor House. Now a hotel, the Manor House was first built in the 14th century to replace a ruined Norman castle and was rebuilt to its existing structure in the 17th century. Many lords have resided at the mansion over the centuries, but the most famous is Sir John Fastolf. Fastolf was the inspiration behind Shakespeare’s character Falstaff in Henry IV. Unfortunately, you can only visit the Manor House if you’re a guest there.
Back on the golf course and after crossing a stone bridge over the bubbling By Brook stream, you’ll spot on your far right a tree covered hill with a strip of cleared woodland. At the top of this hill are the ruins of the Castle Combe castle, a Norman motte and bailey. The 12th century castle was built on the site of an Iron Age hill fort during the Anarchy period by Reginald de Dunstanville, Baron of Combe. The village of Castle Combe was named after the castle of the Baron of Combe. You can only visit the castle when a guided walk is organised there by the Cotswold Wardens.
Along the By Brook stream to Nettleton Mill
The Castle Combe & Nettleton Mill walk then follows the By Brook stream through peaceful woodland. This part of the walk through the forest tends to be muddy, especially in winter. When you reach a cluster of cottages, you’ll find Nettleton Mill on your left. Now a lovely home, Nettleton Mill is one of the rare surviving mills along the By Brook.
In medieval times, the By Brook river powered mills, first milling cloth, then grinding corn. During the 17th century, the level of the river fell and could no longer power mills. At Nettleton Mill, you can spot a tall chimney that was added to power the mill with coal.
Further along, this circular walk crosses a stone bridge and leaves the By Brook stream behind to climb a steep hill. As you reach the top of the hill and the woodland trail turns into a stone path, look backwards. You’ll spot lovely views of a charming Cotswold valley. The country lane then leads you to a wooded country road, and as you make your way down into Castle Combe, back to a forest trail.
The picturesque village of Castle Combe
As you reach the picturesque village of Castle Combe, you’ll spot your first row of typical Cotswold cottages along the road. The toilet facilities are located shortly after on your left. You’ll then reach the most famous view of the Cotswolds: the row of Weavers’ cottages along the By Brook stream by the small stone bridge leading to the heart of the village.
All the cottages in Castle Combe are built from typical Cotswold stone. A key feature of the Cotswolds, the Jurassic limestone is from local quarries. While the stone is honey-gold in the north of the Cotswolds, it is pale white here in the south. You might recognise the quaint rows of cottages from movies and TV shows, such as Dr Doolittle, War horse, The Wolfman, Stardust, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Robin of Sherwood and Downton Abbey. Unfortunately, you won’t be the only one exploring the quaint village, Castle Combe is usually busy with tourists. The best time to visit for a quieter experience is in the early mornings or late afternoons.
What to see in Castle Combe
Walking up the High Street, the main and only road in the village, you’ll spot the market cross (a covered stone plyinth), the medieval water pump and the horse plinth. The market cross dates back to the 14th century and was once the marketplace for fresh produce and cloth. In medieval times, it was a privilege to hold a weekly market.
Next to the market cross, the church of St Andrew’s dominates the whole village. Built in the 13th century and restored in the 19th century, the Norman church boasts a fan vaulted ceiling and a 14th century faceless clock believed to be the oldest working clock in the country. I would recommend a quick visit inside the church to enjoy its particularities. Find out more about things to do with the Castle Combe travel guide.
You can stop in the village for refreshments at the pubs or cafés. From the village square, the Castle Combe & Nettleton Mill walk leads you back up a steep hill to the car park.
Castle Combe & Nettleton Mill walk details
The Castle Combe & Nettleton Mill walk is 3.5 miles (5.5km) long and takes approximately 1 ½ hours. Allow more time if you wish to explore the village.
The Castle Combe & Nettleton Mill walk difficulty is easy. The walk includes two steep hills.
The walk is a circular walk, and starts and finishes at the visitor car park (SN14 7HH).
The postcode for the Castle Combe & Nettleton Mill walk is SN14 7HH.
The Cotswold village is located 30 minutes from Bath and Chippenham. You can reach Castle Combe with the 95/ 95A bus from Chippenham. Find the itinerary and timetable for the 95/ 95A bus on faresaver.co.uk. Please note that there are limited services on the 95/ 95A bus.
From Bath, take the A46 road towards Stroud, then at the roundabout, take the A420 road towards Chippenham. At Ford, turn left onto a country road and follow the signposts to the car park.
From Chippenham, take the A420 road towards Bristol, then the B4039 road towards Yatton Keynell to Upper Castle Combe. After the village, take the second road on your left and follow the signposts to the car park.
From Bristol, take the M32, then the M4 eastbound. Exit the motorway at the Bath junction. Turn left towards Stroud, then immediately right towards Acton Turville. At the village, turn right onto the B4039 towards Chippenham. After the golf course, take the second road on your right and follow the signposts to the car park.
You can park at the visitor car park (SN14 7HH) which is located a 10-minute walk from the heart of the village. The car park is pay and display, and parking spaces are limited, so I would recommend getting there early.
Alternatively, a very limited number of free parking spaces are located along the road from the car park into the village. Please park in a designated parking bay.
You can find the walk map and GPX file: Castle Combe & Nettleton Mill walk on outdooractive.com
You do not need to pay an entrance fee to visit Castle Combe, however you do need to pay for the car park.
Toilets, shops, cafes and pubs are located in the village of Castle Combe. There are no other toilets or facilities on the walk.
The Castle Combe & Nettleton Mill walk is not suitable for pushchairs, wheelchairs or bikes, as it includes kissing gates, muddy paths and steep hills.
The walk includes forest trails and country roads. The paths can get very muddy in wet weather and in the winter, as well as overgrown with nettles and brambles in the woods.
Dogs are allowed in Castle Combe and in the Cotswold countryside.
Explore more: Walks in the Cotswolds
Located near Castle Combe, Badminton is another picturesque Cotswold village surrounded by charming countryside. Exploring the villages of Badminton and Little Badminton, the delightful Badminton Park and the rolling Cotswold countryside, this gentle, circular walk features quiet country roads, serene woodland avenues and rolling fields carpeted with wild flowers. Find the Badminton walk guide.
Located near Stroud, the Painswick Beacon & Painswick Valley walk explores the picturesque village of Painswick, the breathtaking Painswick Beacon and the charming Painswick Valley. Leading you along country paths, across enchanting valleys and through lush woodland, this circular walk follows parts of both the Cotswold Way and the Wysis Way, and enjoys incredible views of the Cotswold countryside. Find the Painswick Beacon & Painswick Valley walk guide.