The Brendon Incline

A Challenge Walk by Cornwall and Devon Group.

Saturday 13th August 2016


Ok I can hear you now, “ new event – that’s good, but why yet another silly name”. Well hang on, this time it really means something.

The West Somerset Mineral Railway was opened in 1861 to haste despatch of iron ore from the Brendon Hills Ironstone mines to Watchet harbour, thence to Ebbw Vale Ironworks in South Wales. The last section of this railway was a cable operated incline, 1100 yds long, at a 1:4 gradient, lifting 800ft vertically to the top of the hill. This is the “Brendon Incline”, the signature hill of our event. Much more on   

We have a small group of LDWA members living in West Somerset who are part of our Cornwall and Devon Group. All are very active walkers doing many Challenge events.  They had the idea that with the help of other C&D members they would organise a new Challenge Walk, in the area that is their home ground. The Brendon hills and Eastern Exmoor………the concept of the walk is described by David Holland the walk organiser.


The Concept………… David Holland

I have lived, worked, and walked in West Somerset for over 42 years. Long ago before I had ever heard of the LDWA I had come to the conclusion that this area must be one of, if not the, most beautiful and varied area in the UK.  Yet an area that attracts few walkers. Certainly in the Brendon Hills other walkers are rarely seen.

In 1996 I joined the LDWA and after a few social walks heard of the words “Challenge Walk”. The rest as they say is history. The concept of a walk that was a physical and navigational challenge, yet provided food and drink every few miles, usually in a beautiful area and with like minded people. Just my scene. I have now done just under 400 events.

Having done so many events I could not help but be aware just how much effort and time so many people give to making these events happen. Over the years I have helped in various ways but have definitely taken much more than I have given. So whilst I still had some energy left the idea was born that I would organise a Challenge Walk to show others our beautiful area.

There are certain places a visitor really ought to see. Dunkery Beacon, the highest point of Exmoor. Grabbist Hill and ridge with its superb views with Brendon Hills one side, and South Wales the other side across the Bristol Channel. Dunster Village and Castle, considered to be the jewel in the crown of Exmoor, and definitely the more remote and largely unwalked Brendon Hills.  And yes…the Brendon Incline. It just has to be a good route.

Now its one thing knowing places to visit, but quite another thing sorting out a circular route that takes them all in, on interesting paths, just the right mileage etc. I tried hard to do this but failed. The problem was that the distance is in the order of 33 miles with 6700ft of ascent. That is too long for many and, certainly for other than fast walkers, could involve a night section. Not the idea at all.

So as Baldrick might have said….”I have a cunning plan”. It involves more work for me, which in itself is not cunning, but it works for you. At about the 26 mile point, after all the “highspots”, there will be an option to stop and be taken back to base, which is quite a quick journey on a good road. This is one of the reasons that the event is limited to 150. I expect that many will take this option. You do not have to decide beforehand. Only strong walkers will be within the cut off time at 26 miles and some of those may well still decide that enough is enough.

The route is very scenic, interesting, undeniably hilly……….and yes it is a “Challenge”. I sometimes feel that the word “Challenge” has lost its meaning in many events. Usually great walks, put on by willing volunteers, but “ Challenge”. Not often. I want to redress that balance yet still have a walk that if you wish, and many will, can be 26 miles in 11 hours.

I can imagine by now your bouncing up and down saying “yes please”….  Get in quick.

Entries for the 2016 Brendon Incline open from 1 December - Click on the relevant link below:

Online entry via Si Entries 
Click here:
PDF Entry Form to Download     Click here: