The Blackdown Hills AONB landscape gives us ample opportunity to get up high and enjoy stunning views across the countryside.
Landscape that inspired the Camden Town Artists
It is easy to see how the countryside around Clayhidon and Ringdown inspired the Camden Town Artists. Their work in this area celebrates an apparently idyllic rural scene just before the first world war changed English society forever.
Taking inspiration from artists such as Paul Gaugin and Vincent van Gogh, the paintings of the Camden Town Group are made up of blocks of colour and pay great homage to the area’s landscape, much of which is unchanged to this day.
As you explore this beautiful setting, be sure to keep to the country lanes and public footpaths. Many of the scenes painted by the artists include people’s homes, so please do respect the privacy of the residents.
Staple Hill – views
Staple Hill is the highest point in the Blackdown Hills and part of the Forestry Commission woodlands. From here you can see spectacular views across the Vale of Taunton. On a clear day you can see all the way to Wales!
You can access these views via Staple Hill Easy Access Trail – a circular 800m walk, starting from the car parking area and taking in two viewpoints. The viewpoints have picnic benches and seating.
Staple Hill Easy Access Trail is suitable for disabled access. It has been designed and built to national ‘all ability’ access standards. The kissing gates are big enough for wheelchairs and pushchairs to get through.
Castle Neroche – views
From Castle Neroche there spectacular views over the vale of Taunton towards the Quantock Hills and Exmoor.
On a clear day, you can see as far as Glastonbury Tor and the Mendip Hills.
At Castle Neroche you’ll see the earthen ramparts where an Iron-Age hillfort and a Norman Castle once stood. In the 11th century, William the Conqueror’s half built a Motte and Bailey Castle high on the hill.
Culmstock Beacon – views
The site of the Culmstock Beacon was no doubt chosen for its views. It was used in Elizabethan times for lighting fires to warn of advancing enemies, for example, The Spanish Armada.
From the 250m (820ft) summit there are magnificent views across the Devon and Somerset countryside. The scene is particularly beautiful in the late summer when the bell heather is in bloom.
Culmstock Beacon is located on Black Down Common which is a great place to go walking. Look out for birds, horses and more great views.