Kidnappers Hole, Copheap and Arn Hill Down
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
This walk starts in the Wiltshire metropolis of Warminster, but quickly leaves the urban area and heads up in the hills to explore more of the beautiful skyline that surrounds the town. The route is just under 3.5 miles, but there are some steep, lung busting parts to it which gives you the benefit of a good work out.
To begin with you can park in the town centre long stay car park, or in the station car park. Our first target will be the wooded hill visibly rising up behind the station building - Copheap.
Copheap is a hill which is in itself a war memorial. It has been preserved for the perpetual use and enjoyment of all, as a tribute to the sons of Warminster who gave their lives in the two world wars. As you begin the ascent of the hill, you will see the Copheap Memorial sign that explains its history. The entrance is flanked by two walls with a path leading to a lych gate. All of this was designed and built in 1949-1950, and was designed by the Wiltshire Regiments of Old Comrades and Royal Artillery Association.
Beyond the lych gate there are multiple routes you can take around the hill, but I chose to go for the full frontal assault and headed up the steepest route to the summit. At the top are wonderful views across to Cley Hill, and there is also a Bronze Age barrow. Sir Richard Colt Hoare wrote about it in his "Ancient History of South West Wiltshire", and it was excavated in 1809 where they discovered a skeleton and some pieces of flint. More digging close by uncovered several more skeletons.
From the summit of Copheap you head due north, following the path down to Elm Hill. Looking to your right here are good views across to the army barracks, Waterloo Lines.
At the road you will dog leg left and right, joining the road that leads up to the West Wilts Golf Club. You don't follow the road up as the path actually leaves the road going up the drive of a house and along the left hand side of their garage. From here you will slowly meander up the hill through trees which bring welcome shade on a hot day. Eventually the path comes out alongside the edge of the golf course, and follows the top edge of a spectacular bottom valley called Kidnapper's Hole. Here you are close to Cradle Hill which was the centre of Warminster's UFO outbreak in the 1970's, but instead of focusing on that look across the valley here to take in the splendid view of Battlesbury and Scratchbury Camp hillforts.
After Kidnappers Hole the path continues straight ahead along the Imber Range Perimeter Path but we will turn left, and follow the edge of the golf course. Passing Arn Hill reservoir, it is worth pausing to see if you can spot a long barrow further down the hill. It is inside a fenced off field so you can't get to it from here, but you can clearly see the shape of it. Like many of these ancient Neolithic monuments, it is now tree lined. Unsurprisingly, this was excavated by Cunnington and Colt Hoare in 1802, but there are many other ancient barrows on the hill which is now a golf course.
Descending the path from the reservoir, you are following a tree lined hollow to the bottom until a public footpath sign points you left, where you follow the tree line back towards the town. It is noticeable here that there is significant traffic noise, as the busy A36 and A350 roads intersect nearby, and the path is also following the route of the Westbury Road below. Eventually you will find yourself in Arn Hill Wood, which is a nature reserve owned by the town council. It has quite a few different tracks to explore, but essentially you are heading back to the bottom of the road which leads to the golf club.
From here you can take a path that skirts around the edge of Copheap and back to Warminster Station.