There is something a little mysterious about Otterhead Lakes. The lakes once formed part of seven ornamental lakes belonging to a large 19th century house. The house no longer stands, and of the seven ornamental lakes, only two survive and are now maintained by Somerset Wildlife Trust on behalf Wessex Water. Little is known of the estate and nothing really remains of the house, demolished in the 1950s. There is a derelict walled garden, which visitors are advised to avoid due to the vulnerability of the walls. The surrounding woods are maintained by the Forestry Commission. Like the children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, it really does feel like a secret garden – its glory long forgotten. But it still holds a wonderous magic.
There is a car park, which is just under 2 miles from Buckland Farm Log Cabins. The walks are not signed posted nor particularly clear or well kept – it isn’t suitable for wheelchairs. I once tried to push a pushchair on this walk – never again. But it is such a beautiful and peaceful place, it is a walk I repeatedly find myself on – often just me and the dogs.
On this walk, be prepared to get muddy (even during one of the hottest, driest summers on record) – wellies or waterproof walking boots are highly advised. Bare legs are sure to get stung by stinging nettles. My dogs always get extremely muddy here, but a quick splash in the river before returning to the car helps a bit.
But also, be prepared to daydream about how it must have been when there was a grand house, and for peaceful reflection as you walk along the streams and the lakes themselves.
There is an official footpath, but I don’t think I’ve ever managed to follow it. Though not marked as a footpath, I usually manage to do a loop around the lakes, making it back to the car park on the other side of the lake through the woods, just following the well-trodden path of past visitors – human or animal.
Muddy factor – 4.5 out of 5. Walking along streams and lakes means the land can get very boggy, so wear wellies or waterproof walking boots. The eldest once lost a welly here – got stuck in the mud. Took quite a bit of tugging to retrieve the welly. He was not particularly happy putting his rather wet muddy foot back into the boot.
Take the strain – 2.5 out of 5. Though not a particularly long walk (about 1.5 mile loop), you sometimes feel you’ve walked double the length. It is a windy, narrow, uneven path at times, which can make it a bit of a struggle. The walk back to the car park is a steady climb.