Landscape Photo
Photographer: Brian Horisk/AdventureArt, Fife, Scotland

Route Filmstrip & Description

Black Hill circuit is one of several waymarked trails set up by the Crown Estate in Dunster forest. It climbs, mainly through woodland, from Nutcombe Bottom to the top of Black Hill where there are good all round views. On the return, the trail passes some Iron Age forts on Gallox Hill. Much of the trail is on forest tracks but there are some narrow footpaths and width restrictions in places. A short section has five steps (see below).

Surveyed by: Exmoor National Park Authority Volunteer, August 2015 (Summer)
Accessibility Rating: 5More Information
Distance:10.7 km

Public Transport: No
Car Park: There is a large car park at Nutcombe Bottom where the trail starts and finishes. It is reached by turning off the A396 about 1km from the centre of Dunster (signpost for Luxborough and Nutcombe Bottom).
Steps: 5 steps 20 - 30cm high.
Barriers: No
Toilets: No

Full Profile

The entrance to the car park is on a minor road about 1km from the A396.

CarPark The entrance to the car park is on a minor road about 1km from the A396.

There is plenty of space.

CarPark There is plenty of space.

At the top of the car park, there is an information board with a map showing the trails through Dunster Forest.

Information At the top of the car park, there is an information board with a map showing the trails through Dunster Forest.

A signpost indicates the start of the Black Hill circuit which has green waymarkers.

Direction A signpost indicates the start of the Black Hill circuit which has green waymarkers.

A wide forest track leaves the car park.  At the side of a locked gate, there is a gap which is 1.0m wide.

Start A wide forest track leaves the car park. At the side of a locked gate, there is a gap which is 1.0m wide.

The track  climbs at first. The gradient of this and many similar forest tracks on the circuit is 20 - 25%. After 200m  the route turns left onto a narrow (1m) footpath.

Path The track climbs at first. The gradient of this and many similar forest tracks on the circuit is 20 - 25%. After 200m the route turns left onto a narrow (1m) footpath.

For the first 50m the going is steep (58% (30 degrees)  ) and quite rough with exposed tree roots. It then becomes a level grassy path.

Path For the first 50m the going is steep (58% (30 degrees) ) and quite rough with exposed tree roots. It then becomes a level grassy path.

At a T junction, there is a right turn.

Path At a T junction, there is a right turn.

A good forest track climbs again.

Path A good forest track climbs again.

The next turning (left) is at a carved deer head where there is a tree trunk seat.

Seat The next turning (left) is at a carved deer head where there is a tree trunk seat.

After 200m, there is a right turn and another grassy track climbs through conifers.

Path After 200m, there is a right turn and another grassy track climbs through conifers.

There are some level sections.

Path There are some level sections.

 

Path

 

Path

Several tracks join from the right.

Path Several tracks join from the right.

 

Path

At a T junction, the circuit turns left.

Path At a T junction, the circuit turns left.

Initially, there is a short steep descent (25%) along a rough path.

Path Initially, there is a short steep descent (25%) along a rough path.

This levels out and continues straight ahead.

Path This levels out and continues straight ahead.

A boardwalk across marshy ground is 0.45m wide.  The support rail is 0.9m high.

Width A boardwalk across marshy ground is 0.45m wide. The support rail is 0.9m high.

The path remains narrow as it passes through tree trunks..

Path The path remains narrow as it passes through tree trunks..

.. with some muddy areas.

Path .. with some muddy areas.

Path

In 300m the path emerges onto a track (nb the waymark arrow here points in the wrong direction).

Path In 300m the path emerges onto a track (nb the waymark arrow here points in the wrong direction).

The track is followed for 50m and joins a road..

Path The track is followed for 50m and joins a road..

..which climbs to Broadwood Farm.

Path ..which climbs to Broadwood Farm.

A left turn is taken very shortly after the farm.

Path A left turn is taken very shortly after the farm.

This passes through a gate...

Gate This passes through a gate...

... and leads to four steps which are between 0.2 and 0.3m high.  The path is narrow and quite overgrown.

Step ... and leads to four steps which are between 0.2 and 0.3m high. The path is narrow and quite overgrown.

As the path widens to a little over 1m, there is another step and a small fallen tree.

Path As the path widens to a little over 1m, there is another step and a small fallen tree.

There is a gentle climb initially along the edge of a field.

Path There is a gentle climb initially along the edge of a field.

Path

300m from Broadwood Farm, there is a T junction.  The circuit turns left onto a broad forest track.

Path 300m from Broadwood Farm, there is a T junction. The circuit turns left onto a broad forest track.

100m along this track, at an obvious fork, the route bears right.

Path 100m along this track, at an obvious fork, the route bears right.

At first, there is a water-worn gulley as the path climbs quite steeply.

Path At first, there is a water-worn gulley as the path climbs quite steeply.

There is good signposting as the track bears right and climbs to a junction. (500m)

Path There is good signposting as the track bears right and climbs to a junction. (500m)

A good track to the left leaves this junction..

Path A good track to the left leaves this junction..

.. and continues to climb but less steeply.  Tracks to the left are ignored.

Path .. and continues to climb but less steeply. Tracks to the left are ignored.

Less than 100m after a sharp bend, the circuit leaves the main track with a right fork onto a narrower, grassy track. (Still 2m wide)

Path Less than 100m after a sharp bend, the circuit leaves the main track with a right fork onto a narrower, grassy track. (Still 2m wide)

In another 100m or so, there is an Iron Age enclosure/hill fort to the right of the path.  This can be hard to see if the bracken is high.

Feature of Interest In another 100m or so, there is an Iron Age enclosure/hill fort to the right of the path. This can be hard to see if the bracken is high.

The path continues with attractive deciduous woodland to the left.

Path The path continues with attractive deciduous woodland to the left.

Path

After 750m, the path merges with a larger forest track.

Path After 750m, the path merges with a larger forest track.

A right turn and a short distance lead to a junction where there is a carving of a hare.

Path A right turn and a short distance lead to a junction where there is a carving of a hare.

The route turns left, drops and then climbs to another junction.

Path The route turns left, drops and then climbs to another junction.

A left turn at this junction follows a major forest road for 700m.

Path A left turn at this junction follows a major forest road for 700m.

Path

At an open area, five tracks converge.  The circuit goes through a gate onto a rougher track which climbs gently.

Path At an open area, five tracks converge. The circuit goes through a gate onto a rougher track which climbs gently.

The woodland is left behind and fine views start to appear.  Ponies roam free on the open moorland.

Path The woodland is left behind and fine views start to appear. Ponies roam free on the open moorland.

Path

At the top of the climb, there is a triangulation point to the right of the track.  It is worth a visit to admire the views.

View At the top of the climb, there is a triangulation point to the right of the track. It is worth a visit to admire the views.

The detour is short (10m) and the circuit returns to follow the track.

Path The detour is short (10m) and the circuit returns to follow the track.

 

Path

Path

500m of descent lead to a junction where the signpost is slightly off route.

Path 500m of descent lead to a junction where the signpost is slightly off route.

Path

Path

The trail continues downhill with no problems for 800m.

Path The trail continues downhill with no problems for 800m.

A good track leaves to the right but the trail carries straight on.  The waymark here has fallen off its post.

Path A good track leaves to the right but the trail carries straight on. The waymark here has fallen off its post.

Path

Another 400m downhill there is a fork.  The path takes the slightly less obvious right branch.

Path Another 400m downhill there is a fork. The path takes the slightly less obvious right branch.

Very shortly, there is a gate, after which the track narrows a little.

Path Very shortly, there is a gate, after which the track narrows a little.

There are several junctions.  The trail heads towards Withycombe hill.

Path There are several junctions. The trail heads towards Withycombe hill.

Waymarking makes the route easy to follow here.

Path Waymarking makes the route easy to follow here.

 

Path

Path

 

Path

In places the track is now little more than a footpath and is quite rough underfoot.

Path In places the track is now little more than a footpath and is quite rough underfoot.

A small stream is crossed between two gates.

Path A small stream is crossed between two gates.

 

Path

For the next 500m, the path is heavily overgrown with bracken.

Path For the next 500m, the path is heavily overgrown with bracken.

 

Path

Path

 

Path

But eventually emerges onto a better track where there is a gate to the left.

Path But eventually emerges onto a better track where there is a gate to the left.

Through the gate, the circuit takes the right fork along a good track which climbs gently through woodland.

Path Through the gate, the circuit takes the right fork along a good track which climbs gently through woodland.

 

Path

In 250m, the route joins a much broader track which is part of the Macmillan Way West.

Path In 250m, the route joins a much broader track which is part of the Macmillan Way West.

Near a gate in a deer fence, there is a signpost and a seat.

Seat Near a gate in a deer fence, there is a signpost and a seat.

The circuit goes through the gate into an area where you may see Exmoor ponies or red deer.

Path The circuit goes through the gate into an area where you may see Exmoor ponies or red deer.

The track to follow goes straight ahead for 500m.

End The track to follow goes straight ahead for 500m.

 

Path

 

Path

Path

At the edge of Bat's Castle, there is a fence with a 45cm gap meant to deter cyclists.

Width At the edge of Bat's Castle, there is a fence with a 45cm gap meant to deter cyclists.

The earthworks around the Iron Age hill fort are crossed.  They can be explored but the going is quite rough.

Path The earthworks around the Iron Age hill fort are crossed. They can be explored but the going is quite rough.

A display board describes the fort in detail.

Information A display board describes the fort in detail.

The exit to the fort is through another 45cm gap in fencing.  There is a seat beyond the fence with excellent views all round.

Seat The exit to the fort is through another 45cm gap in fencing. There is a seat beyond the fence with excellent views all round.

Path

The path continues along the top of Gallox Hill.

Path The path continues along the top of Gallox Hill.

As it begins to descend, there is a second hill fort to the left with views of Exmoor in the distance.

Feature of Interest As it begins to descend, there is a second hill fort to the left with views of Exmoor in the distance.

 

Path

Path

A sharp descent after the fort leads to the exit gate from the enclosed area.

Path A sharp descent after the fort leads to the exit gate from the enclosed area.

A short distance beyond the gate, there is a signpost where the route turns left...

Path A short distance beyond the gate, there is a signpost where the route turns left...

...continues downhill..

Path ...continues downhill..

...before merging with a better track.

Path ...before merging with a better track.

This track goes past a carved bear.

Path This track goes past a carved bear.

Although the track is wide, its surface is rutted and rocky in places.

Path Although the track is wide, its surface is rutted and rocky in places.

At a junction the circuit turns right...

Path At a junction the circuit turns right...

...and follows a meandering track downhill.

Path ...and follows a meandering track downhill.

Path

In 500m the track emerges from the woodland and joins a road.  [Turn left.]

Path In 500m the track emerges from the woodland and joins a road. [Turn left.]

Shortly before the tarmac surface ends, the route turns right onto a good track.

Path Shortly before the tarmac surface ends, the route turns right onto a good track.

Path

Path

This level track leads back to the car park at Nutcombe Bottom.  There are good views of Grabbist Hill along the way.

Path This level track leads back to the car park at Nutcombe Bottom. There are good views of Grabbist Hill along the way.

Dunster Black Hill Phototrail

 

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Accessibility Info Amenities Info Facilities Info Features Info Way Finding Info
Barrier
Clearance
Gate
Gradient
Obstacle
Seat
Step
Surface
Visibility
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Accessible toilets
Blue Badge parking bays
CarPark
Public Transport
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Bird Hide
Boating
Cafe
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Museum & Heritage
Shelter
Viewing Platform
Visitor Centre
Water  Sports Centre
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Vertical Profile

This is an approximate vertical profile with samples taken at 100m intervals along the trail.

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