• Start: Lay-by in Yeovil Road, Halstock
  • End: Lay-by in Yeovil Road, Halstock
  • Country: England
  • County: Dorset
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: The Acorn Inn, Evershot and The Fox at Ansty
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Landranger Sheet 194Public
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Edward Griffiths enjoys a walk which features a chapel dedicated to a headless saint and the church where Thomas Hardy's parents were married

A new year's walk between Halstock and Melbury Osmond

Edward Griffiths enjoys a walk which features a chapel dedicated to a headless saint and the church where Thomas Hardys parents were married

Halstock is famous for the legend of Saxon Saint Juthware, a beautiful and devout Christian lady who carried her head to the altar after being beheaded. The recently-closed Quiet Woman Inn recalled this incident. St Juthwares feast day is 1 July, and the chapel of Halstocks St Marys church is dedicated to her. Melbury Osmonds church was completely rebuilt in 1745, paid for by local landowner Susanna Strangways Horner. Thomas Hardys parents, Thomas Hardy and Jemima Hand, were married here in 1830. Keep in mind that the fields and tracks between these villages have underlying clay which holds water after rain, but the views are very fine.


Distance: 5 miles (8 km)
Time: 3 hoursExertion: Not too strenuous, but several gentle ascents on field paths and tracks. If you are not keen on mud, save this walk for a drier period
Start: Lay-by in Yeovil Road, Halstock, opposite St Juthware Close. Park nearby, thoughtfully! (Grid Ref: ST541082)
Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194Public
Transport: South West Coaches 204 Thorncombe-Yeovil (Tues, Weds, Fri)
Dogs: On leads where there is livestock and through villages
Refreshments: The Acorn Inn, Evershot and The Fox at Ansty

The Walk:

1 Walk south to the Closworth T-junction. Turn left and left again into the hedged cul-de-sac. At the end, continue into the track. Over the stream bridge, turn left along the stream-bank path. When the stream turns left, fork right along a minor stream bed path. In 50 yards, take the left footpath-arrowed gate into a field. Follow the left fence to the corner stile. Over this, keep following the left fence to the stile into a thicket with a stream footbridge and another stile. Into the field, ascend half-right to the corner footpath-stile onto a track.

2 Go through the right footpath/bridleway-gate and turn left down to the bridleway-gate. Over the stream bridge into the next field, turn right uphill, bearing away from the right wood, to the temporary bridleway-arrow post and electric fence lift-off handle. Through this, continue up the field to the footpath-stile/gate right of the farmhouse. Throughthis, follow the track along the left hedge. Reaching the far hedge, go through the bridleway-gate by a footpath-gate and bear slightly right up the field to 1 bridleway-gates near the left corner. Through here, turn right along the lane, passing left liberty Farm.

3 In mile, pass a right footpath. After some road bends and past Springfield Farm, take the left two-way footpath into Halletts yard. Walk down the right side of the garage to the stile with super views. Then, follow the right hedge down to the corner gate into the next long field. Keep following the right hedge down to the bottom footpath-gate onto a stream bridge. Over this, bear left along the field hedge, passing a left footpath-stile, and ascending to the footpath-gate onto the Ilchester Estate track.

4 Cross to the footpath-gate and follow the left hedge down to the footpath-gate onto a track through the woods end. Over the bridge and through another footpath-gate, bear half-left to meet the left hedge. Follow it up and over to two footpath-gates. Through the right one, go over the bridge, through another gate and bear left up the field, aiming for the farmhouse. This leads you past the left bio-gas plant to a footpath-gate. Cross the concrete yard and join the concrete track. Passing the right house and a footpath, continue to the road junction. Turn right along the lane, bending past the village hall and St Osmunds Church, Melbury Osmond.

5 Before left Rock Cottage, turn right. After Manor Farmhouses long stone wall, pass East View Barn. Continue along the rising hedged track. Through the far gate, continue along the hedged track, passing a right footpath. Across a gated track, ascend to another gate, and cross the track into the signed bridleway. Keep following the Public Footpath track with fine right views to Yeovil. Then, down to and through some ancient woods, go through the bridleway-gate and walk up the field. Through the top corner bridleway-gate by an estate gate, follow the left woods edge down and past a left corner footpath-arrow to the Permissive Path into the steep wood.

6 Down the muddy clay path, cross the stream bridge into the low field and cross to the footbridge into the rising wood, with a left fence, to the bridleway half-gate. Through this, follow the right hedge up to the gate onto the woods edge track. Still rising, walk to the bridleway-barrier onto Clarkham Cross road junction. Cross, slightly right, into the Halstock lane. Walk down into Halstock. Over the stream bridge, continue up the hedged lane to the lanes junction with the once Quiet Woman pub on the left corner. Turn right back to your starting point.

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