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Dorset walk - Frampton and Jackman’s Cross

PUBLISHED: 11:52 28 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:52 28 January 2015

St Mary's Frampton

St Mary's Frampton

Archant

Edward Griffiths admires the remains of a Celtic settlement on this invigorating walk which is steeped in Dorset’s history

The ecclesiastic route between the religious foundations of Abbotsbury and Cerne Abbas is the focus of this invigorating winter walk. There is a Second Millennium wayside cross at a junction of this ancient track and another east-west bridleway high up on Grimstone Down. There are impressive remains of Celtic field systems and settlement enclosures which were probably occupied from the Iron Age to Romano-British times. There’s a Bronze Age barrow in a cluster of beech trees which, together with the nearby bunch of oaks, are known locally as The Clumps. But before all this, we enjoy a gentle stroll along the tracks of Frampton Park dairy farming estate, above the River Frome water meadows. On our way back to Frampton, we amble through the lush green valley of Langton Farm before crossing Sydling Water bridge, where springs of pure fresh water from the chalk hills feed the watercress beds.

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Distance: 5 1/2 miles (10 km)

• Time: 4 1/2 hours

• Exertion: Moderate. Ascents are gentle with views inviting frequent stops. No stiles. Some mud after rain.

• Start: Lay-by opposite Frampton’s village green before the white-railed bridge on ’Southover’ road (Grid Ref: SY624950)

• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194

• Public Transport: Damory Coaches 212/213 Dorchester to Yeovil. Not Sundays

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

• Refreshments: Saxon Arms, Stratton for wholesome pub food and real ales. Chalk and Cheese, Maiden Newton for daily ‘specials’ menu and local real ales

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The Walk

1 Walk over the white-railed River Frome bridge and continue along the lane to Frampton Roses’ gate. Turn left into Frampton Park, signed ‘1¼ Muckleford Bridleway’. Keep to the Tarmac drive, passing driveways to The Court, Court Gardens and Park View, into fine parkland. The Tarmac ends after left Frampton House and becomes basic farm track. With views over the water meadows, you reach the ‘Roman Road’ junction. Keep straight on along the concrete track for ‘Frampton and A356 ½’. When you see an ornate balustrade Portland stone bridge down to your left, take the right Tarmac drive at the lime trees, signed ‘Cycle Route 26’. Go immediately past ‘Littlewood Farm’ cattle grid, take the left ‘Muckleford ¾’ Tarmac bridleway-track.

2 Rising to right dairy sheds, keep straight on to the end gate, still following Route 26 past right houses and passing a left footpath after River View House. Through Muckleford village, along the snowdrop-edged lane and past Higher Muckleford Farm, meet the Winterborne Abbas road. Turn left, over River Frome water meadows bridges, to the A356 with the left-corner thatched cottage. Cross over, slightly left, to the concrete ramp and 1½ bridleway-gates into a rising field. Go straight up to the bridleway-gated railway bridge. Over this, follow the fenced track between fields up to the farmyard where the crossing track is a Roman Road. After passing between barns, follow the hedged/fenced rising track with superb views opening up, including Hardy Monument behind and Purbeck Hills right.

3 Past The Clumps, with the barrow in the first clump, pass the right grass-covered reservoir and go through facing 1½ bridleway-gates into the ‘settlement’ site. With three grass tracks to choose from, take the middle one half-right towards the mixed woods, and take the next left fork towards 2½ facing gates. Through the bridleway half-gate, don’t go into the ‘Private’ woods but go through the facing ¾-gate onto a ridged grass track alongside the wood. In ½ mile, you find Jackman’s Cross with a stone seat and the millennium cross. Read the inscription, and look around at the wonderful views. Turn left down the field track to the bottom hedge, turn right along the hedge/fence. In 200 yards, take the left bridleway-track.

4 In 20 yards, keep straight on at a fork, following the hoof-printed track through young trees to the bridleway half-gate into a long green valley field. Walk on to the far end bridleway-gate into a hedged track to and through Langford Farm. Continue to the road and turn right, over Sydling Water bridge to the nearby T-junction. Turn left, passing left Galhampton Farm, up the hill with fine views over Sydling Valley, to the A37 Yeovil road at Picketts Cross with Long Ash Service Station opposite. Cross into the lane for ‘Frampton ½’. Follow the lane downhill, over the railway bridge and passing left turnings, into Frampton. At St Mary’s Church, turn right, passing the 1868 almshouses. In 200 yards, you’re back at the white-railed bridge to your left where you started.

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