Somerset Family Adventures

Pensford Viaduct Walk

Pensford Viaduct Circular Walk

A pretty walk taking in the magnificent Pensford Viaduct, the River Chew and the charming villages of Publow and Pensford.


Distance: 4.2 Miles (6.75 km)
OS Map: Landranger 172; Explorer 155
Elevation: 80m
Dog Friendly: Yes (beware of  livestock)
Start/Finish Grid Ref: ST 62029 63935
Parking: Free on Publow Lane (near Pensford Memorial Hall) BS39 4HW. Limited roadside parking, please park considerately.
W3W: ///given.rational.skillet
Points of Interest: Pensford viaduct, River Chew paddle or wild swim, weir, pub lunch!

About Pensford Viaduct

The Pensford Viaduct was opened in 1873 to link the Bristol and North Somerset railway between Bristol Docks and the Radstock and North Somerset coal fields. The magnificent sixteen arch viaduct carried the railway line over the valley of the River Chew. The last passenger train to cross the viaduct was in 1959. It was then only used to transport coal from Radstock and other goods until 1964. The now disused line was officially closed in July 1968, days after the village of Pensford was hit by a flood which weakened the viaduct. 

Today, there is no access over the viaduct but you are able to walk underneath through the arches. Standing 29m to rail level and 303m in length, it’s an impressive structure. The viaduct was Grade II listed in 1984.

How to get to Pensford Viaduct

By Car

Pensford is on the A37 approx. 7 miles south of Bristol and 11 miles west of Bath

By Bus

From Bristol no. 376 via Whitchurch.

Level of Difficulty 

I would rate this Pensford walk as easy. The paths and lanes are mostly flat, but can get muddy after rain.

Pensford Viaduct Walk Directions

🥾 The walk starts from the Memorial Hall on Publow Lane.

🥾 With the hall directly behind you, turn right and walk down Publow Lane until you see a public footpath sign and gate on your left-hand side. (It’s up a sloped path with a handrail). Walk up the path and through the kissing gate.

Path at beginning of walkgate

🥾 Walk ahead, keeping to the left of the field towards another gate. Go through the gate and continue ahead.

Footpath through fieldsecond gate


🥾 The footpath starts to go downhill towards another kissing gate. Go through this gate and follow the well-trodden path across the field towards All Saints Church. 

Publow Church Walk

On your right hand side at the bottom of the field is the river Chew. Here, you’ll see a pool and weir. The kids enjoyed paddling here in their wellies.

girl paddling in River Chewpublow bridge

🥾 Continue past the river and go through a gate out onto the lane and turn right across Publow Bridge.

gate onto Publow Lane

All Saints Church is in front of you. This Grade I listed building dates back to the 14th Century.

Publow Church
All Saints Church, Publow

🥾 Go through a kissing gate on the right hand side of the church. Follow the path between the river and the church, continuing along the left hand side of the field.

kissing gate next to Publow ChurchPath next to Publow Church

There is a worn path through the field. Cows may be grazing here.


Publow Mill was once situated here. One of around 40 mills in this area. They originally produced iron, and later converted to copper.

🥾 Follow the path – you’ll see a farm on your left-hand side and the path becomes a gravel track.

footpath with farm buildings on left-hand sidetrack

🥾 Continue over a small bridge, which has a gate on either side. 


🥾 Turn immediately left after the bridge. You’ll see a gate in front of you which leads to a pretty wooden footbridge. 

gate to bridgewooden bridge

🥾 Cross over the river Chew and through a second gate on the other side of the bridge.

view of riversecond gate

🥾 Turn immediately right and walk along the river, keeping it on your right-hand side. You’ll soon reach another gate. (This one was open).

path next to rivergate in field

🥾 Once through the gate, turn immediately right down a footpath next to the river.

wooden fencefootpath

🥾 Continue alongside the river until you reach a small wooden gate beneath a telegraph pole.

gate with telegraph pole

🥾 Go through this gate, this brings you to a small wooded area. Follow the footpath to some wooden steps which takes you up to a bridge. (A perfect spot for Pooh sticks!)

wooden steps tp bridgewooden bridge

🥾 Through the gate on the other side of the bridge and turn immediately left to see a fabulous wild swimming spot. There is a natural pool in the river.


🥾 Continuing the walk: From the gate on the bridge, head straight across the field towards a small wooden pedestrian gate. You’ll notice some houses on your left-hand side in the distance.


🥾 When you reach the gate you’ll see it takes you onto a small wooden bridge across a stream. Cross the small bridge and turn left to see the ruins of the old tannery next to Candlestick Brook.

gate to bridgebrook

🥾 Now turn around and follow the stony path uphill until you reach Birchwood Farm.

walking on laneapproach to birchwood farm

Here, the path becomes Birchwood Lane.

birchwood laneview

Birchwood Lane was the main route between Wells Cathedral and Keynsham Abbey in medieval times. Later, it would have been the main access route to the tannery and Woollard Mill.

🥾 Continue along the lane for about a mile, past Lord’s Wood on the left. There are two entrances to Lord’s Wood.

Birchwood LaneLord's Wood

This is a privately owned wood has some public footpaths through it and a pool which once provided water to Woollard Mill.

There are gaps in the hedge on your right-hand side where you’ll have views over the fields, back towards Publow Church.


🥾 Continue on past a couple of farms, one which sells eggs and plants, to the end of the lane.

Farm stallBirchwood Lane

🥾 You’ll eventually reach the busy A37, carefully cross over.  A public footpath is directly across the road, to the right of Pensford House.

Pensford House with footpath to the right-hand sideFootpath off the A37

🥾 Walk down this footpath between two houses. This will take you downhill, through a kissing gate into a small woodland.

Footpath between gardensKissing gate and path leading to woodland

🥾 Cross over a brook at the bottom and follow the path uphill on the other side. You will soon reach a gate which takes you out of the wood and into a field.

bridge over brookGate leading to field

🥾 Continue walking up the hill, keeping to the right-hand side of the field. Go through another gate and continue on until you reach a third gate at the top. 


🥾 Exit the field through this gate onto Wick Lane. Turn right here and continue for about a mile along the lane until you reach Pensford. 

gate onto Wick LaneWick Lane

Check out the views in the gaps of the hedges before the road starts heading downhill. There are some lovely views across the valley.

You’ll pass the red-bricked Winding House on your right-hand side. This was once the engine winding house of Pensford Colliery that has been converted to a private residence. Pensford Colliery, opened in 1909 and closed in 1958. There are a few red-bricked buildings still remaining from the colliery.

The Winding House

The coal was transported on the Bristol and North Somerset Railway which shut in 1968, all that remains are a few bridges, including the viaduct.

🥾Continuing on, the lane bends as you walk over an old railway bridge before heading downhill towards Pensford.

Old railway bridge

🥾 At the end of Wick Lane you’ll see an old red phone box (now being used as a library) and some cottages.

Telephone Box LibraryCottages in Wick Lane

🥾 Take the second left into Church Street, and stop on the bridge for a great view of the church with the magnificent viaduct in the background. 

Pensford church and Viaduct

🥾 Now continue over the bridge and turn left into the churchyard. At the gate look up on your right to see a plaque showing the flood level in 1968 which washed away the main road bridge splitting the village in two.



🥾 After visiting the church of St Thomas A Beckett, turn right out the gate and back over the bridge. Take the next right  into Stanton Lane. 

Pensford ChurchStanton Lane

🥾 You’ll see the church on your right-hand side with it’s 14th Century tower. The church became derelict after flood damage after the River Chew floods in 1968.

Pensford Viaduct

🥾 Walk along Stanton Lane and after about 50m turn right through a kissing gate marked with a public footpath sign. Here, you will have a great view of the viaduct.

Cottages on Stanton LaneView of Pensford Viaduct

🥾 Follow the footpath round to the right keeping the viaduct on your left.

Arches of Pensford Viaduct

If you want to extend the walk, you can follow the footpath under the viaduct and continue along the riverbank to the Stanton Drew Stone Circle (an English Heritage site). This extension will add another 3 miles to the route.

Stanton Drew Standing StonesStanton Drew Standing Stones

🥾 Otherwise, cross the bridge over the river which will bring you into the car park of The Rising Sun pub. Turn left to get out the car park and follow the road round to the right to bring you out onto Church Street, next to The Rising Sun.

🥾 Turn left here and walk up to the main road (A37). Turn right and cross over the busy A37 at the crossing in front of the school. Once across the road turn right. Then take the next left into High Street. Walk up the hill to the triangle. This is all that remains of the village green.

village green

Straight across you’ll see a circular stone building with a memorial bench next to it. This stone building is the old Lock Up. This is Grade II listed and once used to lock up prisoners. It was last used in 1885 for a 14 year old lad who was found stealing mangel-wurzels from a farmer’s field!

The old Lock up

The commemorative bench is for Acker Bilk, the musician who was born and lived in the village.

commemorative bench

🥾 Turn left onto Publow Lane and back to the start of the walk at the Village Hall.

What to wear and bring with you

I recommend wearing a good pair of walking boots/shoes for comfort and support. Otherwise, a pair of trainers on a sunny, dry day. The route is in a valley and can be muddy along the river bank in wet weather or after rain. 

I always recommend taking plenty of water with you to keep hydrated. Although, there are places to buy refreshments in Pensford (if they are open!)

Facilities around Pensford and Publow

There are three pubs in the village of Pensford: The Rising Sun, The George and Dragon and The Travellers Rest. If you’re planning this walk around a pub meal, it might be worth booking ahead.

Best time to hike Pensford Viaduct Loop

You can hike the Pensford Viaduct circular route at any time of the year. As a family, we walked this route in February, on a dry, sunny weekend which was perfect because there wasn’t many people around. I also walked the route, solo, on a sunny June day during the week. 


Things to Note

There may be farm animals grazing in some of the fields, so please keep dogs on a lead on this part of the route. Parking is limited along Publow Lane. There is a layby near the Memorial Hall, or some roadside parking near the start of the walk. Please park considerately.

Other things to do around Pensford

  • Visit Chew Valley Lake
  • Meet and walk the Alpacas at Bell Farm in Woollard
  • Visit Chew Valley Animal Park
  • Explore Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park
  • Hengrove Park
  • Farringdon’s Farm Park and Playbarn
  • Visit Cheddar Caves and Gorge. See our Cheddar Gorge circular walk
  • Visit the nearby cities of Bristol, Bath or Wells.

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