• Start: St Andrew‘s Church, Okeford Fitzpaine (Grid Ref: ST807108)
  • End: St Andrew‘s Church, Okeford Fitzpaine (Grid Ref: ST807108)
  • Country: England
  • County: Dorset
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: The Royal Oak in Okeford Fitzpaine, and the Fiddleford Inn, both serving real ales and good bar meals
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Landranger Sheet 183 & 194
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Edward Griffiths' Blackmore Vale walk takes in a community orchard, a long forgotten Iron Age hill-fort and a magnificent 14th-century manor house

Dorset Walk for August, number 2 - Okeford Fitzpaine and Fiddleford

Edward Griffiths Blackmore Vale walk takes in a community orchard, a long forgotten Iron Age hill-fort and a magnificent 14th-century manor house

This fine walk takes you past typical Blackmore Vale farms, over lush green meadows and through the ancient Piddles Wood. Along the way, you can visit Broad Oak community orchard which contains a superb collection of old local apples of all varieties, variously for eating, cooking and cider-making. Theres a little-known Iron Age hill-fort on Banbury Hill but its former defences have been much reduced by hundreds of years of cultivation, so its really too undefined to appreciate. Something you shouldnt miss is 14th-century Fiddleford Manor, administered by English Heritage, where the ornate roof-beams are the most stunning in all England.


Distance: 5 miles (8.5km)

Time: 3 hours

Exertion: Not too strenuous

Start: St Andrews Church, Okeford Fitzpaine (Grid Ref: ST807108)

Map: OS Landranger Sheet 183 & 194

Public transport: Damory Coaches 309, 310, 330

Terrain: Not too strenuous, but with short steep climbs into Piddles Wood and to Banbury Cross

Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock and on main roads

Refreshments: The Royal Oak in Okeford Fitzpaine, and the Fiddleford Inn, both serving real ales and good bar meals

The Walk

1 From St Marys, follow the raised pavement to The Cross triangle. Fork right for Fifehead Neville, then turn right along Castle Lane. At The Royal Oak T-junction, turn left. Continue along cottage-lined Lower Street for mile, passing Castle Avenue, May Gardens and Bovey. Turn right onto Darknoll Lane, bending left to Darknoll Brook bridge. Over this, take the right footpath-stile into a fenced path along the fields right hedge. Over the next stream bridge, cross the field, passing left of a broad oak. Ignoring the left footpath-gate, continue along the left tree-line for another 100 yards. Now, take the left footpath-stiled stream bridge. Over this, ascend the field, half-right, to the hedge footpath-gate. Through this, walk left of four oaks to twin footpath-stiles in the hedge.

2 Over these, bear half-left across the field towards the brick house. Over the fence-stile, cross the field, keeping left along Angiers Farms fence. Down through the gate into the next field, walk up to the footpath-gate, then cross to another footpath stile/gate onto the lane. Turn left. In 50 yards, take the right Fiddleford 1 footpath. Through the half-gate, bear half-left across the field to the footpath-gate, then walk straight up under wires to the hedges 1 gates. Through here, turn right before Lodge Farms barn to the fence footpath-gate. Through this, go half-left up to more gates, and the same again, before turning half-right to the footpath-gate onto a fenced track outside Piddles Wood.

3 Turn right for Fiddleford with fine views to Hambledon Hill. Descend along the woods edge, pass through a gate and continue down to the footpath stile/gate onto the A357. Turn right, carefully utilizing the verges to the left turning. Past the Fiddleford Inn, continue along the lane, bending left and passing houses and gardens. Past a right footpath on the next right bend and another right footpath-track, you reach a T-junction. Turn left to Fiddleford Manor car park. Do take time to visit the old manor house and see the stunning timber roof trusses. Then, continue up the lane to the A357 and turn right along the verge. Cross to the left Broad Oak bridleway track up into Piddles Wood. Walk up to the top, and turn right along the grass track. In mile, reaching a tracks crossing, turn left for Angers Lane and Fiddleford.

4 After mile, turn right at a T-junction for Broad Oak through ancient oaks. Ignore all side paths. Reaching a major track, turn left for Broad Oak through woods, and passing through a wide clearing. Through Broad Oak Piddles Wood car park, turn right on the road then instantly left onto the Broad Oak footpath, through the gate and between barns straight into a sloping field with fine views. Walk down the right hedge and through the gap in the trees into the next field. There are superb views to Bulbarrow Hill and Okeford Hill ridge. Continue down to the hedges half-gate, left of the electricity post, onto a driveway into Broad Oak. Turn left, down and out of the village. Visit the Community Orchard on your left, then continue down and round the zig-zag, ignoring any right and left footpaths and bridleways.

5 Up at the top bend, almost-levelled Banbury Hill Iron Age hill-fort is over to your right, but stay on the road, now descending. Reaching Fiddleford Mushrooms, take the right unsigned track for Banbury Hill Farm, keeping straight on into the narrowing, high-hedged track. Pass a left footpath-stile and continue up the narrow, sunken and shady path for mile. At the top, the track widens before passing left Darknoll Farms unsigned concrete track. Continue along the lane, soon reaching Etheridge Farm before descending again to Darknoll Bridge and continuing back into Lower Street and returning to St Andrews church where you started earlier.

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