Iron Ore: Brendon Hills to Roadwater

A scene at the foot of the incline cica 1870s
3.25 miles / 5.25km
3 hours
Walk Type
Date & time
Venue & Location

Explore this feat of Victorian engineering, built in the 19th Century to transport iron ore from the Brendon Hills to the port in Watchet where it could be be shipped to Newport and taken by canal and rail to the furnaces at Ebbw Vale in south Wales.

Completed in 1861, the Incline railway used wire cables to pull empty wagons back to the top while the full wagons were sent down a 1 in 4 slope to the valley below. The cables used to lower the wagons were 1,000m long and weighed 3.2 tonnes. It took the wagons 12 minutes to reach the bottom of the incline and passengers were allowed to travel in them at their own risk!

This walk is led by Phil Gannon, Chair of the West Somerset Mineral Line Association, and explores the Winding House at the top before (carefully!) descending the incline and passing between rock embankments that were created when 25,000 cubic metres of rock were blasted away to complete the railway.

Ideally this will take you longer than the 12 minutes it took the wagons to reach the bottom, after which there is a level walk through the peaceful valley, following the Mineral Line to Roadwater.

Walk Leader:

The Walk is led by Phil Gannon. Phil is a retired Building Surveyor and Chair of the West Somerset Mineral Line Association. He has been researching the history of the Mineral Line and surrounding area since 1973 and was involved in Exmoor National Park’s Mineral Line Conservation Project in 2006.


The route takes place on a mixture of graded footpaths, country lanes, field and farmland tracks. The start of the walk is the old railway incline and is a 1 in 4 slope that continues for just under a mile before levelling out.

Meeting Point:

The meeting point for the walk is in Roadwater, a final location will be advised once confirmed.

Transport will be provided to the start of the walk enabling walkers to return to their cars at the end.

Get in touch with the organiser for more information

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