Bishops Caundle and Stock Gaylard walk
PUBLISHED: 13:37 02 September 2013 | UPDATED: 13:37 02 September 2013
Join Edward Griffiths on a delightful stroll through the Blackmore Vale with its fruitful hedgerows and ripening wheat fields
Beautiful Blackmore Vale awaits you with gently undulating fields of wheat, dense hedgerows, ancient oaks, blackberries and their associated bramble ‘arms’. Open skies are dotted with banks of white clouds casting the occasional welcome shadow on a hot August day when the sky is periwinkle blue. On this fine walk, you are likely to meet a few bulls in the fields but they all seem to be peace-loving chaps watching over their extended families of delightful calves and protective mothers,but if you have your dog with you please ensure they are on a lead.
1 Follow the A3030 pavement east. Past left Manor Farmhouse, take the left ‘Stourton Caundle’ turning. Follow the hedged lane for ½ mile and turn sharp right. In ¼ mile, take the sharp left, unsigned, stony track. Past a right wood, keep straight on, under some old oaks, to the end bridleway-gate. Through this, turn half-right up the field, passing between two electricity posts, to the bridleway-gate in the hedge. Into the next field, follow the right hedge down to the bridleway-gate onto Rowden Farm’s drive with twin bridleway-pointers.
2 Cross to the old gate onto the enclosed path. Over the ancient stone Caundle Brook bridge, footpath arrows become scarce, to say the least, so follow these instructions: Through the bridge’s half-gate into the field, keep right of the facing oak and follow the bridleway up the field’s left edge. At the top, go through the second left opening into the next field. Follow the left hedge to the corner, then bend right alongside the left wood. Turn left around the wood’s end, then right across the field, following the possibly knee-high weeded bridleway to pass under a line of oaks. Through the facing fence’s -gate, follow the right hedge, follow the right hedge to another gate. Through this, follow the left wood and, through the wooden gate, join a grass track.
3 Arrows are back now. After a left gate and two bridleway-arrows, turn left at the footpath-post onto the woodland path clear of the Old Rectory. Emerging onto the A3030 at a bridleway-pointer, cross to the opposite verge and turn left. Follow the verge to the ‘Kings Stag’ road at ‘Stock Gate’. Cross to the ‘Stock House’ pointer. Go through the lodge-gate entrance for Stock Gaylard House and Church. Follow the tarmac drive through the park, passing the house and St Barnabas’ Church on your right. Through black-and-white gates, continue along the drive to the facing black-painted, footpath-arrowed gate.
4 Into the field, walk right of the six oaks. Down into the dip, bear left to the far corner footpath-gate. Through this, follow the grass track, enclosed at first, then along the right hedge and oaks through two fields to the footpath-gated Caundle Brook bridge. Over this, turn right to a footpath-gateway, then bear half-left up the field to the top corner footpath-stile. Over this, follow the left hedge to the footpath-stile. In the next field, follow the possibly cluttered left hedge to the corner gate/stile to Cat Lane, Stourton Caundle. Turn left to ‘The Cottage’ on the right bend. Bear slightly left into the narrower lane to the crossing. Cross over for ‘Bishops Caundle’.
5 Follow this hedged lane for ¼ mile to left Caundle Farm. Turn right up the hedged lane. In ½ mile, take the left unsigned track, bending right at a left footpath-stile. Keep bending right and left to the footpath-gateway. Continue down the long field’s track with open views. Bending right, continue up to Holtwood barns where only up-to-date OS Maps show the correct route. Go straight through the barns onto the track, bending left before Holtwood Cottage. At the tarmac drive with a backward-pointing footpath-sign, go through the facing gate, with arrows on other side, into the paddock.
6 Follow the left hedge to the facing footpath-arrowed half-gate. Through this, go through the wide gap into the right field. Follow the left hedge round to the second of two gaps, left of oak trees, into the next field. On your left, go over the footpath-stile/gate and follow the right wood’s edge down to the footpath-stiled ditch-bridge hiding in the right trees. Over this, cross the field on a usually-cut path to a stile into a wide field. Cross to another gated paddock leading to the backward-signed footpath-gate opposite the White Hart near where you started.
Distance: 5½ miles (8.75km)
Time: 4½ hours
Exertion: Not particularly strenuous. Several stiles.
Start: Lay-by east of The White Hart, on the same side of the A3030 (Grid Ref: ST697132)
Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194
Public Transport: Damory Coaches 368 between Blandford and Yeovil
Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock and on roads
Refreshments: The White Hart, Bishops Caundle and the Trooper Inn, Stourton Caundle for bar meals and lunches