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Description

Ham Hill is a stunning wildlife haven centred around an Iron Age hillfort, offering fantastic opportunities for scenic dog walks, walking, running, playing and wildlife watching with far reaching views across Somerset. Superb accessible walking route with great views.

Film credit: Warner Vision

Secret Stories mobile app trail 

Download and follow ‘Ham Hill’s Pits of Peril and Rampaging Romans’ trail through the Secret Stories app, which takes you on an adventure learning about some of Ham Hill’s fascinating history. From prehistoric to modern day wildlife and everything in between! There are quizzes and activities along the way to keep everyone entertained.

The trail starts at the Rangers Centre TA14 6RW, and is roughly 1.5 hours long. Suitable for kids 4-10 years old, but is also fun for the whole family.

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Donate to make a difference

If you have enjoyed a visit to Ham Hill and would like to contribute to help look after the special wildlife and heritage, please visit our donation website to give a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will go towards projects such as tree planting, improving the grasslands for plants and pollinators, providing dormouse boxes and heritage preservation works on this historic hill fort.

Thank you, your contributions really do make a difference.

To make a donation, please visit Donate – Visit South Somerset

Ham Hill Management Plan 2023-2027

If you would like to find out more about the management plan and direction for Ham Hill over the next five years, you can read it on our Ham Hill Management Plan 2023-2027 (PDF 4.59MB).

Features 

  • Parking on-site
  • Dogs welcome
  • Open all year
  • Play park
  • Cafe/restaurant
  • Toilets
  • Picnic area
  • Biodiversity diversity
  • Family friendly
  • Free entry
  • Partial Disabled Access

Visitor information

Information about the area, car parking, accessibility and more


Ham Hill is 170 million years in the making, offering fantastic views across the South Somerset Levels to the Mendips, Exmoor and beyond. A nationally important Historic Monument, it is one of the largest Iron Age hillforts in the UK. Today, as well as, the 88.1 hectare Scheduled Ancient Monument, it offers beautiful wildflower meadows, spectacular wildlife, fascinating geology and striking Iron Age rampart archaeology.

Perched on a rocky outcrop of stone (hamstone) Ham Hill is easy to see from the A303 and it’s 158 hectares offers something for everyone.

History

Ham Hill’s past is both rich and fascinating. Stone Age man first settled here over 5,000 years ago and lots of flint tools, including axes that were left behind have been discovered. This settlement continued throughout the Bronze Age and metalwork, pottery and evidence of burials have been discovered across the hillfort. Sitting above most of the surrounding landscape it would have offered commanding views of the countryside.

It was the Iron Age that truly shaped Ham Hill. Over 200 years, the local tribe, the ‘Durotriges’, crafted the steep sloping ramparts that can still be seen today with antler picks and small iron tools. There have been numerous Iron Age finds including iron currency bars, brooches, storage pits, pottery, burials and lots of skeletons!

Sometime after AD43, there was a change of ownership when the Roman army invaded and took over the hillfort. During their time, Romans built an army garrison, a 19 room villa and continued with construction of the Fosse Way that runs from Lincoln to Exeter, and sits under parts of the A303.

Moving forward, outlines of a deserted Medieval village can still be seen in Witcombe valley and there is a wonderful walk down to the medieval pond.

George Mitchell really put Ham Hill on the map in the 1870’s. Every Whitsun Monday, hundreds of workers would march to Ham Hill and demonstrate for fair pay and workers’ rights; with banners and marching bands.

Many of the finds that have been discovered at Ham Hill can be viewed at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton. More information can be found on the South West Heritage Trust website.

Geology and Quarrying

The geology of Ham hill is around 170 million years old and unique. Classified as a Jurassic shelly limestone, this golden, honey coloured stone, is a sedimentary rock that was built up in layers. Warm, shallow seas once covered the area and small fragments of shell, sea creatures and calcium carbonate, were cemented together on the sea floor by pressure and time.

This layer of rock is quite thin and sits on top of Yeovil sand – You are literally walking on the sea bed.

Hamstone layers are great for geologists to study and parts of the exposed stone outcrops at Ham Hill are protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest or designated as Local Geological Sites. The stone is also great for building or carving and the Romans were the first people to quarry stone here in large quantities.

At its height in 1880, there were over 200 men employed in quarries here.

Hamstone, has been used to build most of the older houses in surrounding villages including some prominent ones like Sherborne Abbey and Montacute House. Earth mounds near the Ranger’s Centre are old Victorian quarry spoil heaps. Also look out for large scratches on some of the stone faces that are old tool marks. They are reminders of Ham hill’s quarrying past.

Car parking 

There are six public car parks situated across the site and are all accessible off the Ham Hill Road (TA14 6RW). There is disabled parking at the ranger centre (TA14 6RW).

Please note that the car park at the Prince of Wales pub is strictly for patrons only.

Please do not park along the roadside.

Dogs 

Dogs are welcome at Ham hill and there are some lovely dog friendly walks right across the whole 390 acres.

However, grassland areas at the site are grazed periodically by cattle and sheep and all dogs must be kept on a lead when walking in these areas if livestock are present.

We also have a fantastic population of skylarks, which are ground-nesting birds and dogs must be kept on leads when the skylark signs are up too.

Refreshments 

The Prince of Wales Public House is situated at the top of Ham Hill, approximately 200 metres from the ranger centre.

For their current opening times, contact details and menu samples please visit the Prince of Wales Ham Hill website.

Friends of Ham Hill 

The Friends of Ham Hill are a charity that help to initiate community and environmental projects at Ham Hill, by raising funds and assisting the ranger team with the delivery of the projects. Previous projects have included the woodland play area, tree planting, Roman treasure trail, the geology trail and the Witcombe stream project. The group are currently looking at funding for a dragonfly pond in Witcombe valley.

If you would like to get involved with the Friends please contact info@friendsofhamhill.org

Visit the Friends of Ham Hill website for more information or to donate for future projects.

Toilets 

There is a ladies, gents and a disabled toilet at the Ranger’s Centre and they are open from dawn until dusk.

Access to the disabled toilet is via the use of a radar key. Radar keys are available to buy at the South Somerset Visitor Information Centre & Gift Shop, located nearby at Cartgate Picnic Site, TA14 6RA.

Climbing 

Yeovil Mountaineering Club have access to climbing at Deep Quarry on Ham Hill. For more information visit the Yeovil Mountaineering Club website.

Cycling 

Cycling is permitted only on the bridleways across the site.

Please be mindful and respectful of other visitors when cycling in the area.

Accessibility 

Paths at Ham hill are either stone, grass or bark but some are hilly due to the nature of the site.

Large parts across the Northern Spur and the Flat Fields are accessible for a mobility scooter and there is an all ability trail that runs around the Northern spur and is wheelchair friendly. It is approximately 0.9km and has a maximum gradient of 11%.

Ham Hill easy access trial (PDF 797KB)

Wildlife

There are over 2,300 recorded species of flora and fauna scattered across a diverse mosaic of habitats to enjoy here.

During the summer take a walk through our beautiful wildflower meadows to see southern marsh, pyramidal and bee orchids in their hundreds, broomrape, vetch, cranesbill and yellow rattle also carpet the meadows. Listen to crickets and skylarks as you watch meadow brown and common blue butterflies drift from grass stem to stem and watch as swifts and swallows dive along the grass tops trying to catch them and other insects.

In other grassland areas, rare calcareous soils support many plant species including wild thyme and birds-foot trefoil where common blue, green hairstreak and skipper butterflies can be discovered.

The woodlands are host to many bird species including nuthatch, tree creeper and both green and great spotted woodpecker. On a warm summers day listen to buzzards mewing as they circle overhead. If you are lucky you may spot a roe deer or fox in the grasslands on the edge of the woodlands. Many species of bat can be seen at dusk with common and soprano pipistrelles feeding in the woodland rides whilst noctule and serotine can be seen on the woodland edge of the meadows. If you stay late enough to watch the bats, then also keep your eyes open for glow-worms in the grassland.

Visit the notice board at the Ranger Centre for recent wildlife sightings

Drone use

Drone use is strictly regulated across all of our sites to prevent disturbance to the wildlife and so that the privacy of our visitors is respected. If you have a good reason for wanting to fly a drone across any of our countryside sites, you will need to email the Countryside Manager to request permission, along with a copy of your public liability insurance and certification to fly a drone.

Please email rachael.whaites@somerset.gov.uk about the use of drones.

BBQs and small campfires on site

Due to the high fire risk and detriment to the wildlife, barbeques and campfires are strictly prohibited at Ham Hill.

If you are organised group (for example scouts) you can apply for permission to have a BBQ or campfire by contacting the rangers. You must adhere to strict conditions and have a risk assessment and public liability insurance in place.

Please email hamhill@somerset.gov.uk about permission to hold a BBQ or campfire.

Projects

Information about the projects happening in Ham Hill Country Park


National Lottery Heritage Funded Project – Undercovering Ham Hill’s past for its future

New tramper 

The rangers have recently taken delivery of a new tramper, an off-road mobility vehicle, which will help less-mobile visitors to explore Ham Hill. We have had a tramper at Ham Hill for many years, but with external funding, we were able to upgrade and purchase a new one. The tramper will be available to hire from the spring, once we have defined the appropriate routes for visitors to follow. The old tramper has been donated to Carymore Environmental Centre, to make their site more accessible for their visitors..

With the funding from the National Lottery’s Heritage Fund, the team have been able to purchase a digger. This will enable them to carry out works to protect and repair rampart paths, as well as any future site maintenance works, without the need to hire machinery or contractors.

Volunteers

The dry-stone walling volunteer team, led by ranger Geoff are getting to a pivotal point in completing a section of wall repairs, as the coping stones are placed on top of the completed repairs. This is not an easy job as these large stones are particularly heavy and careful placement is key to ensuring they are well bedded to the top of the wall. The coping stones not only look great, but they help to reduce the risk of the wall collapsing again as they protect the stones underneath from disturbance, particularly from sheep climbing over and pulling stones loose.

Visitor Centre
Work continues with our appointed contractors to finalise the design of the building to ensure that it is sustainable and affordable, before construction can start in May 2024.

Interpretation
We have carried out a procurement process to appoint an interpretation designer for the Heritage Fund project. The interpretation designer will be fundamental in bringing the stories of Ham Hill to life through the design of the permanent exhibition in the Visitor Centre and creation of digital content and panels out on site. They will work alongside the project team, rangers and Engagement Ranger to ensure the content is exciting, engaging and correct. They will create signage and new branding for Ham Hill, ensuring that the design is coherent throughout the site and visitor centre.

We look forward to starting work with them this autumn.

Volunteering

Volunteering opportunities


Practical conservation volunteers

There is one volunteering day at Ham Hill which is on a Wednesday. Tasks include scrub clearance, path maintenance, hedge-laying, drystone walling, coppicing, removal of invasive species and fencing. You do not need to have any experience to join in, just willingness to get involved and a passion for nature.

Volunteers tasks are physical in nature and you need a fair level of fitness.

If you would like you join the volunteers, please contact ranger Paul McNeill at countryside@somerset.gov.uk or on 07973 887 129 to check if there are places available.

Group visits

How to organise a group visit


Our Community Heritage Officer, Edd Chilcott, can offer a variety of activities or events for your group. If you are interested in any of the activities below, please email edward.chilcott@somerset.gov.uk

Community Groups

We can offer bespoke guided walks or activities led by our rangers at Ham Hill for your community group (such as scouts, guides, brownies, U3A)

Schools

We can deliver curriculum focused sessions based at Ham Hill or in your school grounds, depending on your preference.

Birthday Parties

We can offer a bespoke birthday party for your children and their friends at Ham Hill. You can choose a theme for your party such as wildlife, horrible history or bushcraft.

External group events

If you are an external organisation that wishes to host your event at Ham Hill please email us at countryside@somerset.gov.uk

There may be a charge to host your event, but all charitable events are free. We will need to see a copy of your risk assessment, public liability insurance and an application form must be completed.

Application to hold an event at a Countryside Site (PDF 143KB)

Leaflets, maps and information 

Contact details

Website
Email
Telephone 01935 823617

Location

Address Ham Hill Country Park, Ham Hill Road, Stoke-sub-Hamdon, UK