Which is probably why it didn’t quite go to plan.
If you’re planning to explore Somerset further than I did (which won’t be difficult), you’ll find plenty to see. I can recommend Somerset Life Magazine if you’re short on ideas.
On this station to station walk I might not have found the stunning views of Exmoor or one of Somerset’s gorgeous villages but I did meet someone called Jack.
Someone called Jack who likes eating treacle.
Train stations in Yeovil
Yeovil has two mainline train stations. Yeovil Junction is the busiest with trains to London Waterloo but quieter Yeovil Pen Mill is the nearest to the town centre. If you fancied a longer walk than mine, a route from Yeovil Junction to the pretty town of Sherborne would be worth planning.
I should add here that Yeovil Junction station is also home to the Yeovil Railway Centre where you can enjoy steam train rides and driver experiences. The steam trains make lovely viewing as you wait for your not-so-romantic train home.
A last minute station to station walk
Last-minute adventures are like little presents to yourself. You weren’t expecting it when you went to bed but in the morning you wake up and the urge is there.
The urge to explore no matter where you are.
And if you’re near a train station, what better way to explore than hop on the train network and see where it might take you.
Here’s what you need to do.
- Open up a copy of OS Maps (not Google Maps).
- Find your nearest train station.
- Follow the train line along until you come to another station.
- Choose that as your start point.
- Follow the train line along a bit further until you come to a different (but not too far away) station.
- Choose that as your end point.
- Check there are suitable walking route possibilities between your start and end points. (Look for lanes and public rights of way).
- Plan a vague route or plot an exact walking route on OS Maps.
- Hop on the train.
If you’re thinking this through here, you’ll notice I’ve missed out something really important (as well as snacks).
I haven’t mentioned checking the train times to get you back to your start station after your walk.
Which is exactly what I forgot to do until I was on the train on my way to Yeovil Junction. I’ll tell you how that panned out later but first, here’s my (much shorter than anticipated) station to station walking route.
Walking route Yeovil Junction to Yeovil Pen Mill
- Start station: Yeovil Junction
- Finish station: Yeovil Pen Mill
- Distance: 4 kilometres
- Elevation: 72 metres
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Refreshments: There are cafes at Yeovil Junction and Pen Mill stations (check the opening hours)
- Toilets: Yeovil Junction station and Pen Mill station when the ticket office is open (which isn’t often because it is sadly a ticket office marked for closure).
If you’re concerned about the proposed closure of a ticket office, Transport for All have a useful letter of objection template.
Leave Yeovil Junction station and turn left down the lane. When you reach the junction, cross the road and walk up the track labelled ‘No Entry’ (this instruction is for vehicles not pedestrians).
Confusion amongst the houses
Expect a bit of confusion here but the locals are friendly. Walk almost up to the front of the terrace of brick houses. Face them then turn right. You’ll see a signpost indicating a narrow footpath. Take that (the footpath not the band).
Keep going as the path winds up and then down through a green area. Cross the stream by the bridge and head left then right as the path becomes a wider track and leads up past the campsite to the lane.
Lanes and more lanes
Turn left and walk along the lane until you see on the right a signed entrance to a green lane. This is much narrower than you might be expecting a byway open to all traffic to be.
Don’t miss the Treacle Eater!
About 250 metres along this track, just after a low section of blackthorn, look out for steps on the left. Take a diversion up these to the fantastic folly arch known as Jack the Treacle Eater (Jack is perched on top).
He’s worth visiting.
This is one of four follies that mark the cardinal edges of the Barwick Park estate. The statue is actually Mercury but legend has it Jack was given treacle to help him run all the way to London with a message. If you look carefully, you’ll spot another folly, the pointed Rose Tower across the park.
A world of your own.
Return to the green lane and follow it along as it narrows and widens. In places you may need to duck below the tunnel of trees.
Two Tower Lane
When you reach the lane take the steps opposite up into a field.
If you want more folly fun, take the time to spot both the Fish Tower and the Rose Tower from Two Tower Lane. This lane will also take you on a longer route into the Nine Springs park, where you’ll find pools and waterfalls to enjoy.
Through the woods
Once you’ve crossed the field, take the right hand route that runs above but alongside the road. Follow the narrow path through the trees until you reach the gate into Yeovil Country Park (Summer House Hill).
Back in town
After the woods, the expansive roof of Hollywood Bowl might be a shock but head towards it anyway to cross the stream by the footbridge.
Along the cycle way
You’re on the cycle way here so watch out for bikes as you turn right to follow the blue cycle and station signs across the car park onto the disused railway line.
This railway line will take you all the way to a crossing on the A30 just above Yeovil Pen Mill station.
Let’s talk about planning!
When I woke up on that sunny Tuesday morning I checked train times, station toilets and food opportunities (of course). I also planned a longer walking route that took me through Yeovil’s Nine Springs area.
What I didn’t do (until I was on my first train) was check how many trains ran between Yeovil Junction and Yeovil Pen Mill stations.
As it turned out, there weren’t many.
Arriving at Yeovil Junction at 11:00, I had a choice of return trips at 14:00 or 18:00. I didn’t want to be home too late.
Which meant I had to shorten my walk.
It also meant I had to miss out on cake at the rather beautiful Yeovil Station Cafe, which was risky because I hadn’t packed picnic.
Food is very important to me.
I was initially disappointed with my walk change but that’s the beauty of being able to read a map, you can make things up as you go along.
So that’s what I did. At least until I met a friendly lady who described a route that would be pleasing but still get me to Pen Mill on time.
My own green tunnel.
By far my favourite part of the walk was the overgrown green lane that joined the road from Rexe’s Hollow with Two Tower Lane. Apart from meeting one cyclist at the start, I was in an enclosed, green-tunneled world of my own.
The old ways.
If you’ve ever read Robert MacFarlane’s ‘The Old Ways’ you’ll have a sense of what I experienced. This was a place of confined solitude and, with all the berries and sloes hanging overhead, I was sure I could have lived there for at least a few weeks.
I was so absorbed in my surroundings I almost walked right past Jack the Treacle Eater.
It’s not often you see a name as intriguing as that on an Ordnance Survey map so I’m glad the steps prompted me to check my location. Jack is a sight to see but sadly he’s so high, the best place to see him is from inside the private grounds of Barwick House not directly underneath his arch.
He (and the bench next to him) made a pleasant stopping-off point though and I enjoyed the challenge of trying to take photos without falling down the bank. By now I was starting to feel peckish so I grabbed a few blackberries.
Emerging from the green reverie of Jack’s lane was a jolt back into the modern world.
I enjoyed the rest of my walk, especially the section through the woods but it is my time in that green lane that would perhaps encourage me to explore with minimal planning again.
After all, an adventure is really only an adventure if it includes a few surprise discoveries.
But not surprises about a lack-of-food. Not packing any was really silly. When I reached Pen Mill station, their cafe was closed and by the time I got back to Yeovil station, that cafe officially was too. Luckily there was a very nice chap cleaning inside who sold me a rather delicious, and most welcome bun.
Life really is a lot about buns.