Dorset walk around Chetnole and Melbury Bubb
PUBLISHED: 15:12 23 May 2016 | UPDATED: 15:12 23 May 2016
Edward Griffiths enjoys a leisurely stroll through Thomas Hardy’s ‘Vale of the Little Dairies’
This superb Blackmore Vale country walk takes you through busy dairy farms and ancient woods, visiting three fascinating old churches, and crossing the River Wriggle and its tributaries on the way.
St Peter’s church at Chetnole dates back to the 13th century and nearby Chetnole House is Georgian, dating from about 1760. St Edwold’s 15th-century church at Stockwood is under 30ft long and is pure ‘Thomas Hardy‘. At Melbury Bubb the church font of St Mary’s dates from the 10th or 11th-century, and features exotic carved animals which are all upside down. The original Manor House here was rebuilt in the 17th century.
• Distance: 5 miles (8 km)
• Time: 4 hours
• Exertion: Fairly easy with gentle country lane walking, but a few stiles and a couple of short ascents. Some mud after rain.
• Start: St Peter‘s Church, Chetnole. Park thoughtfully by the church wall (Grid Ref: ST602082)
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194
• Public Transport: South West Coaches and Damory, both 212
• Dogs: On leads through farmland with livestock and on roads
• Refreshments: Chetnole Inn for bar food and local real ales
1 Facing the T-junction with Chetnole Inn right and St Peter’s wall left, turn left around the corner. Follow the road, passing School Lane, Church Close, Mill Lane and Neals Lane. Out of the village, take right ‘Stockwood 1½’ lane. Over Chetnole station railway bridge with Bubb Down Hill left, continue up into ‘Stockwood’. Cross the stream bridge and pass left Stockwood Mill before ascending past right Manor Farm. At the ‘Historic Church’ brown-sign, take the left drive down towards Church Farm. Before the ‘Private’ gateway, take the left ‘Footpath to the Church’ gate.
2 After St Edwold’s Church over the arched-bridge, follow the farm track over the stream bridge. Instantly, bear half-right between an electricity post and the fence corner with a footpath-arrow. Up to the fence corner footpath-stile, follow the path through trees and over boardwalks up to the fence-stile. Over into the hillside field, climb up steep Bubb Down Hill, before bending left above two ‘valley’ heads, to find the O.S. trig-point with superb views over the Blackmore Vale. Past this, follow the left fence over into the bottom left corner footpath-gate. Through, turn left down past the left lime kiln area to the footpath/bridleway-gate into Manor Farm, Melbury Bubb.
3 Past right barns and through another gate, continue through the farm and follow the right high stone garden wall, past the staddle-stoned Grain Store, down and round to the right for St Mary the Virgin‘s Church gates. After visiting, continue past the bridleway-sign to the T-junction. Turn right. Follow the right/left bending lane past cottages into Bubb Down Farm. Past the first left low stables, go left at the facing footpath-arrow by another ‘Bubb Down Farm’ nameplate. Through the gate, go round the right open-barn to a wooden-fence gate into a field. Through, cross past the right slurry tank to the top right corner footpath-gate/stile.
4 Over, follow the right hedge all the way round the top of the field and down to the corner footpath-stile into a hedged boggy track. Go up the right bank if very muddy and push through to the end two-way footpath-gate. Through, bear ¼-left, aiming right of a quarry on the nearest hill, down to a kissing-gated railway line crossing point. Safely over, cross the field, slightly left, to the hedge footpath-gate. Through, go straight on down the long field to cross the stream, then walk up to the left end of the farthest-left brick-house. Over the stile into the road, signed back ‘Bridleway’, turn right down to Redford T-junction. Turn left.
5 Over the stream-bridge to the right bend, take the left footpath-signed gate into the high field. Bear slightly left to the hedge-gateway. Pass through and turn half-right, aiming at the wooded hill ahead, to find a footpath-stile and stream in the bottom hedge’s left corner. Over, bear half-left to the footpath-gateway. Through, continue across the field, aiming left of barns ahead, and through the hedge-gate into another field. With the barns ahead, bear half-left, left of all barns, to a footpath sleeper-bridge and stile onto a track. Turn left and cross Withyhook Farm’s drive to the fence-stile. Over, walk down past the stone cottage’s right end and along the hedged track, over the Wriggle again and across the field corner to the footpath-gateway.
6 Through, keep straight on up to the footpath-stile into a wood. Walk through and up to a multi-arrowed stile. Over, follow the left trees to the hedge-gate. Through into the next field, continue to the corner footpath-gate. Through, keep following the left hedge to another footpath-gate into a hedged track. Instantly, go over the right footpath-stile and follow electricity posts to the hedge-gate into another track. Turn left down to ‘Charing Cross’ tracks’ crossing. Turn right onto the Tarmac lane. Keep straight on, ignoring all paths and bridleways off, and bending left/right before re-entering Chetnole. At the T-junction, turn left, over the Wriggle bridge and past Chetnole House to where you started.
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