- Start: The Piddle Inn, Piddletrenthide (grid ref SY707998). Park in Wightman’s Orchard or on B3143
- End: The Piddle Inn
- Country: England
- County: Dorset
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: The Piddle Inn at Piddletrenthide (DT2 7QF) has real ales straight from the barrel and offers snacks from the bar plus a daily specials menu; their homemade puds are legendary. 01300 348468 or piddleinn.co.uk
- Ordnance Survey: OS Landranger 194
- Difficulty: Medium
Edward Griffiths enjoys chalk downs, rolling fields, ancient woods and superb views as he explores the Piddle Valley
Distance: 5 miles (8km) Time: 2 and a half to 3 hours
Weve explored the Piddle Valley before, but this new walk is something special. One minute, youre enjoying a stroll up a wide grassy valley with buzzards wheeling overhead, and the next, youre ambling down the valley floor of an ancient wood packed with wild flowers and butterflies. Always, theres birdsong in hedges, especially yellow-hammers, blackcaps and goldfinches.
After the woods, you walk for over a mile through gently sweeping fields with huge skies above, punctuated with squabbling crows, vocal rooks and ascending skylarks. This is typical arable farming country south of the Blackmore Vale, and the farm at Well Bottom is a typically friendly farm.
1 At the Piddle Inn, take the path behind the pub along the River Piddle. Cross the footbridge onto the track passing the left barnyard. Go through the left, facing, gate. Take the right of three bridleways, up the wide valley floor. Through the gate, continue to the second gate. Cross the concrete track and follow Kingrove Bottom valleys track. Go through another fence gate, then take the left-fork track and pass the electricity-wires stanchion. At the first single electric post, with a bridleway arrow, bear quarter-left up the valley side.
2 Rising over a couple of probably naturally slumped shelves, aim for the higher of two horse-jumps in the facing fence. Over this, follow the top hedge along the valley slopes. Passing a left wood, theres a barn below you. At the end of the field join the track by the right wood to the twin bridleway-arrowed gate. Through this, take the left-fork bridleway across the field towards the far edge of the left wood on Buck Hill. Before the woods end, go through the bridleway half-gate into the wood. Walk down through the wood, swinging left and continuing down the valley floor.
3 Amongst the bluebells, primroses and spurge plants, you may see all sorts of butterflies, including brimstone, peacock, large white and painted ladies. Through the end gate, follow the bridleway straight down the wide valley field to the right end of thefarms barns. Keep close to the fence and turn left into the bridleway yard behind the barns. At the other side, dont follow the main rising bridleway-track but take the right-fenced bridleway-track along the valley bottom. Soon rising gently up Well Bottom Down, fork left through a gate and follow the track up through the huge field.
4 Nearing the top, the track swings left with superb views over chequered fields. Through the hedge gap, keep following the track, now sweeping right and following the right hedge over the wide ridge. Through the gate before Heave Coppice, turn left onto the chalk track. In 50 yards, go through the right bridleway-gate. Keep following the wide grassy path along the woods edge. Following the right hedge to the corner gates junction, go through the bridleway half-gate and cross the end of a track into the next long field. Follow the undulating grass track against the left hedge, with fine views, to the corner.
5 Through the bridleway-gate walk down the path with views over Piddlehinton. At the bottom tracks T-junction walk down to the left bridleway-gate before the right barn. Follow the green path along the low field edge through two fields. Into the lane, turn left, passing barns and joining a right-fork bridleway-track above the River Piddles water-meadows. At the next T-junction, turn right on the main track, with the river close by for a while. At Myrtle Cottage, go through the facing bridleway-gate. Follow the grass path along the field into the hedged track.
6 Through the end gate, follow the lane for 50 yards. Go through the right gate and follow the right hedge across the field above the meadows, approaching Piddletrenthide. Through the next bridleway half-gate, walk down past the First School and play area. Go through the left corner fence-gap into Northover Close. Join the B3143 and turn left back to your starting point and the Piddle Inn.
Start: The Piddle Inn, Piddletrenthide (grid ref SY707998). Park in Wightmans Orchard or on B3143
Map: OS Landranger 194
Terrain: Farm tracks and bridleways through woods and over fields. Two gradual ascents on bridleways; no stiles
Dogs: On leads or under close control to avoid disturbance to farm animals, wildlife and ground-nesting birds. On short leads in open country and common land between 1 March and 31 July
Public transport: Wilts & Dorset 323; South West Coaches 109
Refreshments: The Piddle Inn at Piddletrenthide (DT2 7QF) has real ales straight from the barrel and offers snacks from the bar plus a daily specials menu; their homemade puds are legendary. 01300 348468 or piddleinn.co.uk