Dorset walk around Frome St Quintin & Evershot
PUBLISHED: 10:20 22 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:20 22 November 2016
Edward Griffiths enjoys some superb views on this walk which takes in a country inn that featured in one of Thomas Hardy’s novels, and we visit a delightful Domesday village
This exhilarating walk takes you through some of Dorset‘s greenest fields, where the productive soil grows lush late-season grass. On the way round, there are superb views all over these rounded valleys, undulating hills and scattered woods.
After historic Evershot, we call at Chantmarle with its 1606-1612 Manor House; the land here was held by Robert Chantmarle in 1211AD. The second village on the route is Frome St Quintin, listed in the Domesday Book as ‘Litel Frome’ and named after the lords of the manor. St Mary’s church dates back to the 12th century. The village is also home to a fine brick-built Georgian manor house which was finished in 1783.
• Distance: 4½ miles (7.25km)
• Time: 4 hours
• Exertion: Fairly strenuous. Several steep fields, down and up. Some mud after rain.
• Start: The Acorn Inn, Evershot (Grid Ref: ST573045). Park in Fore Street or by the ‘triangle’ at the bottom of the hill before Melbury Park’s entrance
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194
• Public Transport: Damory 212 between Dorchester and Yeovil, except Sundays
• Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock and on roads
• Refreshments: The Acorn Inn, Evershot for bar meals
This 16th century coaching inn was originally called the Kings Arms, and was one of six pubs in the village. It is believed that the notorious ‘Hanging’ Judge Jeffreys used what is now the lounge as a court and local convicts were then strung up at the red signpost on the way to Benville. Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles is set in the immediate area. Evershot is referred to as Evershed and The Acorn Inn was ‘The Sow and Acorn’. When Tess walked to meet Angel Clare’s parents she breakfasted at Tess Cottage just next to the church. The Acorn also features in two Hardy short stories - Interlopers at the Knap and The First Countess of Wessex.
More at acorn-inn.co.uk or call 01935 83 228
1. From the Acorn Inn, walk down Fore Street (or up, if you’re parked at the ‘triangle’), and turn right (or left) into Summer Lane. Past the left school grounds, and opposite Summer Lodge, go through the left ‘Frome Valley Trail’ gate. Bear half-right up to the footpath-gate in the top corner. Through, follow the long undulating right hedge to the far corner footpath-gate. Into the next field, aim slightly left to the footpath-gate in the far hedge. Through, turn left onto the drive, with a footpath-arrow on the opposite fence-post. Descending to Fortunes Wood Farm, follow the track past the left farmhouse, then up past a right cottage and round to the barnyard. Keep left of the open-fronted barn and go through the left footpath-gateway onto a hedged track.
2. At the hedge’s end, go through the right gate and turn left to the facing footpath-gate. Through, follow the left fence to its end, and continue down the field, aiming for the manor house below. Through the gate at the wood’s right end, walk down to the stream and the fence’s 1½ footpath-gates. Through, bear slightly left, aiming past the far electricity post, to the hedge’s ‘Chantmarle Dry Route’ signed half-gate into an abandoned football pitch. Cross diagonally left to the corner woodland path. Down past a footpath-post, join the Tarmac drive. Continue past right Chantmarle Manor House and over the ornate bridge.
3. Past a left footpath-sign, continue up the lane into Chantmarle village and turn left at the T-junction. Follow the hedged lane, sweeping left at Barnhayes Farm and into Frome St Quintin. Up to the next left bend, take the grass path ‘To the Church’. After visiting St Mary’s church, continue up the lane past the George III manor house and several village houses. Leaving the village, ascend between fields to a tracks’ crossing at Short Cross. Fork left for ‘Evershot 1½’. Down the hedged track to the footpath-gate by the ruined cottage, go through and continue down the field’s right hedge to the corner stile.
4. Over the railway line, cross the sleeper bridge over the stream. Climb up the field of reeds and flag-irises to the top right corner footpath-gap. Through, turn left and find your way up through trees into a small rough field with Burl Farmhouse and outbuildings over to your right and with barns facing you above a grass bank. Turn left to the short fence’s footpath-gate. Through, turn right to the footpath half-gate under trees. Through, go straight up the field, passing one tree just left of the main clump, aiming generally towards the field’s highest point. Go through the footpath-gate left of a second gate. Turn right along the hedge to the field’s corner gate.
5. Through, turn left along the hedge’s grass track and pass into a second field. Continue along the left hedge to the corner gate. Through, cross the sloping field to the facing hedge’s footpath-stile. Cross another field to another footpath-stile. Into the next field, bear slightly left down to the footpath-stile level with the solitary tree. Over the stile, go over the sleeper-bridge in the trees, crossing the infant River Frome again. Up to the farm track, turn right. Emerge into Fore Street opposite Swiss Cottage. If you’re not parked here, turn left and walk up the hill back to the Acorn Inn where you started.
• Winter walks in Dorset - When the weather gets colder, there’s not much more refreshing than a brisk walk across the countryside, and ther