The Leland Trail traverses traditional lowland landscapes of dairy and arable farming and links beautiful villages and towns in the heart of South Somerset. The Trail uses definitive rights of way, tracks and lanes following in the footsteps of John Leland who travelled through South Somerset at some time during the period 1535-1543. John Leland was a scholar working for King HenryVIII as keeper of the royal libraries. In 1533 he was commissioned "to make a search after England's antiquities, and peruse the libraries of all cathedrals, abbies, priories, colleges etc. and also all places wherin records, writings and secrets of antiquity were reposed." As part of this mammoth task John Leland visited what is now South Somerset, first visiting Bruton and travelling south and west through Castle Cary, North and South Cadbury, Ilchester, Montacute and Stoke-sub-Hamdon. The Leland Trail takes this historic journey as its theme, following in the footsteps of John Leland, although we cannot be certain of his exact route.
The route is divided into 7 sections varying in length between 1.5 and 5 miles. Each stage offers variety and interest. In the east lies the mysterious forest of Penselwood and Bruton with its packhorse bridge, dovecote and famous two-towered church. The central section passes through the beautiful Somerset town of Castle Cary, the magnificent collegiate church at North Cadbury, and the centre point of the route; Cadbury Castle whose summit offers a spectacular panorama of the South Somerset countryside. In the west the route passes the country's busiest military airfield at Yeovilton, before journeying through Roman Ilchester and on to the Elizabethan glory of Montacute. The final section takes you to Ham Hill Country Park where you can view as far as Exmoor, the Quantocks, the Bristol Channel and, looking back along your route, see Alfred's Tower, the Trails starting point. The entire route can be completed by the moderately experienced walker in 2 days. We would recommend North Cadbury for an overnight stop.
The Leland Trail links with the Liberty Trail and the River Parrett Trail at Ham Hill.
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