Walk: Bishop’s Caundle and Caphays Drove
PUBLISHED: 14:12 29 July 2019
Peaceful country lanes, ancient tracks, old drove roads, historic farms, a Neo-Georgian country house, an early-Victorian post-box and a 15th-century road bridge all combine in this fascinating walk through the Blackmore Vale. From the start in the linear hill-top village, there are fine long views wherever we go. Words and photos: Edward Griffiths
1. Walk up the pavement to the Post Office/Stores and turn right into Holt Lane at the crossing. Follow the hedged lane for ¼ mile, passing a right footpath-stile and the stables gate. In a few yards, take the footpath-signed gate into a vast high field. Walk straight across and down to the hedge-gate right of a cattle trough. Through, continue down to the next hedge-gate. Through, continue down and over a stream bridge to a footpath-arrowed hedge-gate. Through, cross the field with electric cables to the farm track. Go right to Hawkin's Farm.
ROUTE AROUND HAWKIN'S FARM: At the left footpath-arrowed open-fronted barn, walk behind it to, and into, the facing open-fronted barn. Instantly, go through the barn's little left chained wooden door. Beware of any electric fences and turn right into a field corner. Continue behind all the barns, through two gates, one with a footpath-arrow.
2. Into the field, pass the right slurry-pit fence and continue across the sloping field to the right corner stile/footbridge under trees. Cross the next field to the gateway into trees with another gateway on the other side, both having footpath-arrows. There's an unsigned bridleway crossing between these gateways! Turn left into the verdant avenue and walk to the ford and footbridge from where it becomes more of a hollow-way. In ¼ mile, go through the facing bridleway-gate onto the cut grass to Neo-Georgian Marsh Court's drive. Keep straight on to the entrance gate onto the A3030 road junction. Cross into Caphays Drove, narrowing after 1/3 mile.
3. Past Caphays House and neighbours, continue into the unsigned old drove road bridleway. Through trees (with deep hoof-holes in August), cross Pin Bridge over the stream and continue up the hedged grass track. Join the rising lane at Long Meadow cottage. Continue up to the lanes' crossing. Go left/right into Stakes Lane with a left house. Follow the hedged lane for ½ mile. At the left bend to Densham Farm - a footpath, too - continue straight through the facing unsigned gate into the narrow field. Before the end stream, The Cam, take the left bridleway half-gate into another old track through trees, with The Cam right and fields left.
4. Over Cam Bridge, follow the faint hoof-holed path through scrub to the half-gate. Through, cross the rough field, near the right hedge, to the corner bridleway half-gate. Through, join the farm track. Through the bridleway-gate onto the fenced drive going to right Lower Buckshaw Farm, turn instantly left onto the short track to the footpath-gate into a barn area. Go through the nearby half-gate into the field and walk up to the far left corner gate. Through, ascend near the left hedge to the footpath-stile under an oak. Into the next field, with Buckshaw House right, follow the left hedge to the footpath-stile onto a grass path. Go right and through the facing gate into the field corner.
5. Follow the right hedge to the footpath-stile and sleeper-bridge. Into the next field, with Buckshaw Farm left, descend to the valley gates and ditch-bridge. Over, follow the right hedge up the field to the corner gate with two houses left. Through onto Barnes Cross triangle junction, turn left for 'Bishop's Caundle 1¼'. Pass the left cottages with the 1853 Victorian post box. Continue for ¼ mile, passing Cornford Hill Farm, to Cornford Bridge. The bridge over Caundle Brook was built about 1480 with three spans and cutwaters. Steps down on the far left side give access for a photo.
6. Over the bridge, fork right at the white cottage. Walk up the hill, passing right Quarry House. At the cross-roads, turn right, Ryall's Lane. In ½ mile, at the triangle junction, turn left for ¼ mile to another triangle. Continue up Brown Street for 25 yards and fork right up the verge path to the footpath-signed gap into a field corner. Follow the right hedge up to the corner, then continue straight up - still with fine views all around. Into the grass track, continue to the gate between houses onto the A3030, signed back 'footpath'. Turn right back to the Church where you started.
Distance: 5 miles/8km
Time: 3½ hours
Exertion: Medium. Some mud after rain/hoof-holes when dry
Start: Bishop's Caundle Parish Church (Grid Ref: ST696132). Parking in two A3030 lay-bys east of the church.
Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194
Public Transport: Damory 368 between Blandford and Yeovil
Dogs: On leads where livestock is and in accordance with specific notices encountered on the walk and The Countryside Code
Refreshments: The White Hart in Bishop's Caundle for local beers, lunch and supper or buy your picnic essentials at Bishop's Caundle Post Office & Stores