Dorset walk around Nettlecombe and Eggardon Hill
PUBLISHED: 11:31 13 September 2016
Edward Griffiths climbs an Iron Age hill fort and is rewarded with some outstanding views across the county and beyond
The pretty west Dorset villages of Askerswell and Nettlecombe both nestle in dairy farming country below Eggardon Hill. This lovely walk explores these stream-rich vales before climbing to Eggardon hill fort’s tremendous banks and ditches at 800ft above sea level. The views are endlessly impressive, so go slowly and enjoy every minute.
• Distance: 6¼ miles (10 km)
• Time: 4½ hours
• Start: Church of St Michael and All Angels, Askerswell (Grid Ref: SY530926)
• Exertion: Strenuous with 725ft total ascent. Expect mud in valley paths
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194
• Public Transport: South West Coaches 73 from Bridport Mondays to Fridays
• Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock and on roads
• Refreshments: Spyway Inn for excellent food and traditional ales
1 From the church, walk down the lane, past right cottages, to the triangle T-junction. Turn right past the ‘Askerswell’ sign. Down the hedged lane to the crossroads, take the left ‘Uploders’ lane with cottages both sides. Pass one right and one left footpath. In another 80 yards, take the right footpath-stile into a valley field. Walk down to the ancient stone-slab footpath-bridge above a waterfall. Over into the next field, aim half-left to the far corner two-way footpath-stile. Over, keep left up the field to the facing footpath-stile. Over any stepping stones, follow the right hedge to the footpath-gate into the hedged lane.
2 Turn right. In 40 yards, take the left ‘Powerstock’ bridleway-track. Ignoring the facing bridleway-gate, follow the left footpath-track down the long field and under pylon cables. Bending sharp left at the footpath-post into the next field, sweep right under the cables again. Over a bridge, fork left onto a grass track to the footpath-gate with a right barn. Through, walk up the rising field to the facing footpath-gateway. Through, follow the grass track up the steep field to meet Knowle Hill wood at the footpath-gate. Through, follow the undulating woodside track for over half-mile, then down to cross the old railway line. The footpath from here has been obliterated, so continue up the permissive farm track, past left and right turnings at the right bend, then up the sunken track to the top lane at a T-junction.
3 Go straight across and down the banked lane into Nettlecombe. Take the right ‘No Through Road’ past a telephone box and various cottages. At the bottom end of the lane, over the ford footbridge to a three-way pointer, take the ‘Eggardon Hill’ footpath-track left of the cottage. Immediately, take the right-fork arrowed-footpath up through the hanging wood. Over the end stile into a high field, follow the left hedge to the railway bridge. Over, follow the left hedge up the field, through the gap into the next field, over the grass track from Marsh Farm, and up the steep field with another stile half way. Over the top left corner stile, follow the path through trees to the stile above the farm track. Walk up the track, through a gate and on to the end gate.
4 Through, keep ascending the green track towards Eggardon, bending right then left through a gully, to the facing gate. Through, continue below Eggardon’s slopes to the road. Walk up the road to the right signed ‘Passing Place’ gate. Over, walk 50 yards up the track. On the right bend, fork left onto the lesser path onto the outer bank. Follow this bank/ditch parallel with the road for ¼ mile, then turn right along the far bank up to the corner where two fences meet at a footpath-stile/gate. Over, take the instant right bridleway-gate/stile onto the long descending grass track with a left fence. When the track suddenly bends left off Eggardon Hill to a farm gate, go through the adjacent bridleway half-gate onto a sunken path down the field’s edge.
5 Past a bridleway-post, continue down the track to North Eggardon Farm. Turn left up the Tarmac track with right barns. Bend right past a stone barn, then left down the grass-centred track. Past the bottom left cottage‘s rock-wall, go through the gate into a hill-field. Bear quarter-right along the hill’s faint path to the bridleway half-gate. Through, walk through the trees to the bridleway half-gate. Through into the field’s top corner, bear half-right down through the boggy patch. Past a right gate, take the bridleway half-gate into a shady fenced track. At the bridleway-post, turn left up along the deer fence, passing Eggardon Farm’s lake left, to the bridleway half-gate and up the field to the bridleway half-gate onto the drive.
6 Turn right. In ½ mile, through the bridleway-signed gateway, cross the Spyway Inn lane into the opposite lane. Continue down, passing cottages and the left ‘Village Hall’ turning. Reaching Askerswell crossroads with the left phone box, turn left. Opposite Beck Cottage, take the right signed-footpath into Montana’s drive and instant left into the rising footpath between garden boundaries. Finally, take the stone-wall’s gate into the churchyard where you started.
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