A ramble around Upwey and Friar Waddon Hill
PUBLISHED: 09:54 07 December 2018
This easy walk takes us into Hardy territory as well offering some glorious views towards Weymouth and Portland
Author and former Surgeon to King Edward VII, Sir Frederick Treves visited Upwey in the 1870s when ‘the romantically minded paid their shilling for a seat in the crowded char-a-banc’ to ride from Weymouth to see the Wishing Well whose ‘powers were ill-defined’. The spring ‘issues from the foot of a wooded bank and, hurrying away under an avenue of trees, vanishes at the mill’ – is one of the sources of the River Wey, it doesn’t vanish until it reaches Weymouth Bay 6 miles later.
Upwey is situated west of the Roman Road up Ridgeway Hill which inspired Hardy’s opening scene in The Dynasts. The 1820 mill with its 20ft diameter overshot waterwheel featured in Hardy’s The Trumpet Major. After visiting St Laurence’s Church, followed by an easy stroll to Friar Waddon, we pass along a narrow cutting through the limestone ridge to the hamlet of Corton with its 16th-century farmhouse and tiny 13th-century Chapel of St Bartholomew. We return on the Jubilee Trail along Friar Waddon Hill with glorious views to the coast.
1 Admire the three-storey mill behind Mill House, then walk upstream and fork left, still Church Street, where Gould Hill starts at the Wishing Well Tea Rooms. Past the left Wey Valley Walks turning at the Old School Village Hall, continue up Church Street with the infant Wey stream on your right. Past left St Laurence’s Church and car park and right cottages, continue up the narrowing ‘No Through Road’. Along a right wooden fence, take the left footpath-signed path alongside the stream and through a kissing-gate. Cross the sleeper footbridge and continue upstream, over the stile and back over another footbridge. Bear half-left to a footpath-stile onto East Hill Barn’s drive. Go left up to Friar Waddon road.
2 Turn left along the hedged lane which very gently ascends the wide shallow valley, soon passing Windsbatch Dairy Farm and a left footpath-stile opposite Friar Waddon Waterworks’ elegant red-brick buildings. Enjoy the peaceful valley with open skies, crows overhead. Pass an old Weymouth and Melcombe Regis boundary stone on your right as you enter Portesham parish. Then, approaching a right wood with farm buildings ahead, see just one of many Bronze Age barrows on the right Inland South West Coast Path ridge. Pass Friar Waddon Farm with its buttressed threshing barn, fine house and Victorian post-box. Then, pass right Blackacre Farm with adventurous chickens wandering far and wide.
3 After walking under overhead cables, see a two-way footpath signpost on a right bend and notice the left footpath-stile before the ‘Corton’ concrete track. This will be your route after we’ve visited Corton and its delightful Chapel of St Bartholomew. Follow the concrete track through the cutting and take the signed right footpath to the kissing gate overlooking 16th-century Corton Farm house. Walk down the hillside to the fenced chapel whose gate is around the west end. From the south doorway, there are fine views over Weymouth to Portland. After your visit, return to the concrete track and the footpath-stile we noted earlier. Over, bear half-left up the hillside and under the overhead cables again where, behind you, see St Catherine’s Chapel at Abbotsbury.
4 At multiple sheep paths, continue up equally between two wooden stanchions. Follow the top of this ridge and notice more barrows on the Coast Path ridge. Pass two low barrows on your ridge, and a lone boulder like the ones used to build the Grey Mare and Her Colts above Abbotsbury. Continue along the ridge top with magnificent views to Portland and the coast and with more barrows, one before and several after the first fence’s footpath-stile. After another barrow before the next fence, go over the footpath-stile and cross the farm lane to the opposite stile, sign-posted ‘Upwey 1’ and backwards ‘Corton Hill ½’. Continue along the ridge and over the next pair of footpath-stiles with a stone wall between.
5 Keep following the ridge, now with a left fence which slips slowly left down the ridge side. Your next fence-stile is slightly right of the ridge top. Over it, continue along the top but, when a farm gate appears ahead by a Bronze Age cross-ditch, bear left down into the field corner where a signed ‘Upwey’ footpath-stile into woodland stands in a probably rather muddy spot. Carefully negotiating the stile, follow the path down through the trees and past a footpath-arrow post. Over the final footpath-stile, continue down the track, bending left between the Wishing Well gardens and the Old School Village Hall. Turn right back to Upwey Mill where you started.
Distance: 3¼ miles/5.25 km
Time: 2 hours
Exertion: Fairly easy. Half on country lanes
Start: Upwey Mill in Church Street.Park in the road.
Dogs: On leads most of the time especially around farms and on roads
Refreshments: Wishing Well Tea Rooms, Church Street