Somerset is a county full of hidden gems for the intrepid explorer.
Hidden deep within Exmoor, the Quantocks, or waiting to be discovered in the Somerset Levels, there is plenty to see if you know where to look.
One of the best-hidden locations you can explore in the county is the ‘lost village’ of Clicket, which lies in the Brendon Hills on the eastern edge of Exmoor.
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With the remains of the village still standing deep within the hills near Minehead, it is a lesser-known jewel in Somerset’s crown.
While it has not been inhabited since the start of the 20th century, some clear remains of the old mill village still exist in Somerset today, and we set out to explore them.
The ‘lost village’ of Clicket still has a number of structures intact
The history of Clicket
Not an easy place to reach by any means, Clicket goes back as far as the 14th century, with references to the place in the Lay Subsidy of 1327.
Its continued existence is backed up by it being listed on the Tithe Map in 1844.
The mill in the village served the farms situated around the site and lime was quarried from a number of areas.
The belief is that there would have been no church, shop or school in the village, with all these kinds of things being found instead in the surrounding villages, such as Timberscombe.
The story goes that the village was gradually abandoned by its residents because the steep paths that surround the area made life very difficult for carts to access the town and for supplies to come in and out of the settlement.
The population dwindled to the extent that by 1901 it is believed there were only three people living in what was left of the village, and shortly after it was left totally empty.
How to get to Clicket
I tried to research the best way to reach Clicket and while there was some useful information to be found, the major problem was that each account was incomplete.
I managed to ascertain the rough area it was in and only via a quick reference to a public footpath sign on the road referencing Clicket did I manage to find the right path off Whitswood Steep.
Clicket is accessible from Luxborough, Timberscombe, and Wheddon Cross. I arrived from Luxborough. After walking about a mile-and-a-half from the edge of the village, I arrived at the place I had judged to be the turning down to the lost site which is at Thorn Farm.
The aforementioned sign, which I had managed to find on Google Maps to ensure I was on the right, was no longer there when we arrived so I was grateful to have done my research beforehand and I quickly found another public footpath signposted through a field to the left of the track to the farm itself.
I followed the footpath through a field and it was only after coming out the other side of this that I found a public footpath sign with the name of the village on it.
I continued down the steep hill past various farm buildings from the neighbouring Thorn Farm, and eventually found I was in the right place.
What you can find there
The track down towards Clicket gives views of the nearby sea beyond Minehead
I was met by some slightly inconspicuous but nonetheless significant remnants of stone walls when I first came down the footpath.
The first parts of the village you see coming from that direction are not so much full buildings but remains of walls and piles of stone, but as you walk further through the area you start to see more concrete (pun intended) signs of its history.
A tall building that could well have been a watchtower of some sort was also pretty easy to find early on, with an entire wall still standing with a curved archway looking to have been blocked up over time.
The footbridge over the Clicket Stream
Signs are set along the footpath at regular intervals reminding people not to venture from the path and disturb the ruins, which is a useful reminder as the temptation to get in among the ruins and inspect closer is rife.
After carrying on past these initial remains down through a field with some very diligent sheep, we came across another clearing in the woods that showed plenty of evidence of its former life.
One of the best-preserved buildings can be found down here, very close to what was supposedly called the ‘Clicket Stream’, over which a charming footbridge had survived.
‘It feels like people want it to stay lost’
The village is hard to access but well worth investigating
A couple of other walkers who visited the site, Rebecca and Sasha, both said that it was hard to piece together the layout of the original Clicket from what is left.
Rebecca said she thought the fact that the village was considered ‘lost’ may be something that is being protected.
She said: “You get the impression most of the local people want it to stay lost.
“The signs that did exist have often been removed or covered over, meaning you need to go quite a way off the beaten track to find evidence of it, and the pathways have not been brilliantly maintained.
“It’s difficult to work out what it might have looked like and what was where back when it was active.
“People were very good at making walls back then so I’m not surprised some of it has survived.
“It’s really inaccessible for a mill village – it’s not hard to see why people moved on why it has become lost since then.”
Sasha described the abandoned village as “spooky”, but also said she got the definite sense of people living there by some features.
She said: “I thought it was generally a bit spooky – you don’t really get too much sense of what was there so it is a bit eerie.
“I loved little things like the bridge over the stream, though – it really gave a sense that it was a place people lived and you could almost see people walking across it years ago.”