In search of the Great Breach Wood

Dundon Fort

High up above Dundon Fort, one of Somerset’s many hill forts, are a collection of glorious woods that surround a small gorge, known as the ‘The Great Breach’.

The little village of Compton Dundon sits on the road that winds through the edges of the Somerset Levels from Yeovil to Glastonbury and beyond; at the time of the Domesday Survey, like so many churches and their villages in this area, it was owned by the monks of Glastonbury. Indeed, Dundon, it seems, was once the home of a bell foundry, and its bells are to be found in Somerton and Aller, and presumably many other nearby village churches.

In ancient times, before the Levels began to be drained, this whole area would have been regularly flooded, and if nearby place names are anything to go by – Red Lake Farm, Greylake Bridge and so on – it’s possible that the hill fort, and the smaller hill next to it, may well have been islands within vast lakes for much of the time, connected only by the raised droves that eventually became the roads on which we now pass through the area.

But this isn’t about history – this is just about a rather lovely dog walk Woody and I went on today.

Compton Dundon surrounds OS plus parking

To get there, turn off the A303 onto the A372, and then almost immediately take the old Ilchester Road past Lytes Cary, and then through Charlton Mackrell. The road then becomes Kingweston Road, and then Reynald’s Way, and one parks at the Combe Hill Wood car park (see map above).

The site is one of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s many reserves. 

So, once you’re parked, your walk can begin…

Both the short and the long walks begin here.
At this time of year, there are a lot of lovely leaves to scrunch through…
Very soon you’re presented with a choice…
The short walk around Combe Hill Woods…
…or the path that heads towards the longer walk around the Great Breach Wood. We did both. 
Near the end of the second path, you’ll come to a gate that leads to these steps down into the ‘gorge’ and back up the other side into the Great Breach Woods themselves.
There are numerous paths through the woods, official and otherwise.
Fairly soon you leave the woods, however, and find yourself on the edge of the hill, where you get your first view of Dundon Fort. But there are better to be had further along the path…
And there it is, in all its ancient glory.
This panorama shows the extent of the vast ancient lake that may have stretched from the hills on the left to those on the right. It is also the location within my book The Multiverse of Max Tovey‘ of Llyn Tanddwr, the underwater fortress of the Gwragedd Annwn, the faeries of the waters, and will feature prominently in the sequel I am currently writing.
Now it’s back the way you came, and then, for Woody and I at least, around the shorter Combe Hill Woods walk, which gives a great view of the ‘gorge’ between the two woods, as well as another view of Dundon Fort below…
And then it’s back to the car park, and one of the many picnic benches along the shorter walk, should you feel like a snack after your exertions.

One thought on “In search of the Great Breach Wood

  1. It’s a beautiful place. I used to walk my dog there. We loved it. We used to sneak into the back end of Great Breach and find some secret paths there (forbidden of course! but never anyone to tell us otherwise!) I guess it was because of the Pheasant shoots and Pheasant breeding program. Anyway there’s an impenetrable gate there now -not impossible to get around but I’m getting too old for that and my dog is in Heaven now anyway….

    Keep happy walks with Woody…..regards Sylvia.


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