A glorious walk in the hills between Martin Down and the Chalk Valley taking in Vernditch Chase, Marleycombe Hill, Church Bottom and Middleton Down Nature Reserve
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Plenty of free parking in the Martin Down Nature Reserve car park on the other side of the A354. Extreme caution when crossing this road.
(D/A) From the car park cross the A354 into Vernditch Chase forest. Follow bridleway through woodland. Kitt's Grave is a long barrow which is somewhere in the beech woods.
(1) On joining the road, turn right. After a few hundred metres, turn right from the road by yellow grit bin onto Ox Drove/Cranbone Link. Shortly after, turn left via a gate onto footpath over Marleycombe Hill.
(2) Turn right on slopes down from Marleycombe Hill overlooking Bowerchalke to cross the earthworks.
Having crossed hillside over earthworks zig zag down to the foot of the hill to join broad grass footpath towards the village. At stony track opposite Hayes Barton, turn right to join road through Bowerchalke (Church Street)
(3) Turn right along Church Street then turn right into the entrance of Knowle Farm. Turn immediately left to follow permissive path bypassing farmyard and follow bridleway up the tarmac farm road. At crossroads with bridleway continue straight on to Field Barn.
(4) After Field Barn, continue on the stony bridleway and at fork continue on the stone track to right, ignoring the grassy path to the left.
(5) On reaching Thatched wall turn right on a stony track. At the road, turn left into Howgare Road.
(6) Turn right onto bridleway towards Church Bottom. After house called Church Bottom, ignore footpath to the left and continue along bridleway along Church Bottom.
(7) Stop to admire views at the bench erected as a memorial to Kay Chalk. After Kay Chalk's bench, continue upwards along bridleway up to Ox Drove on ridge or branch right through a gate onto Middletown Down Nature Reserve (walk follows the route through nature reserve). Pass through several gates along valley bottom through the reserve and on seeing oak trees on slopes up to the left head upwards to the far corner, or head straight up and follow the fence line. Beware livestock in reserve.
(8) On leaving reserve via a footpath at south west corner, turn left onto Ox Drove. After 100 metres, turn right onto restricted byway and follow the field edge to the corner where the byway then turns right along the edge of the field. When you see yurt in the field on left, the footpath has been blocked and signs removed so continue along the byway.
(9) On reaching road, cross and enter stony car park for Vernditch Chase. DO NOT pass by barrier onto forest trail ahead but go through trees to the left of the car park on the dirt path. Follow the path up and bending to right along the route of Roman Road back towards Martin Down car park. (D/A)
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 404ft - Martin Down Car Park
1 : mi 1.21 - alt. 607ft - Cutler's Corner
2 : mi 1.97 - alt. 610ft - Deviation for earthworks
3 : mi 3.11 - alt. 354ft - Church Street
4 : mi 4.18 - alt. 387ft - Fork in path
5 : mi 4.76 - alt. 318ft - Thatched wall
6 : mi 5.13 - alt. 289ft - Junction with road to Shaftesbury
7 : mi 6.19 - alt. 381ft - Kay Chalk's Bench
8 : mi 6.99 - alt. 535ft - Junction with Ox Drove
9 : mi 8 - alt. 364ft - Vernditch Chase
D/A : mi 9.14 - alt. 400ft - Car park
The terrain presents no real difficulties being mostly grassy or stone tracks with the occasional stretch of road. May be a little muddy in places in wet conditions especially through Vernditch Chase forest.
There are no pubs or shops on the route.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
Vernditch Chase - contains long barrows including Kitt's Grave which is somewhere in the beech woods.
Marleycombe Hill - wide reaching views across three counties. Earthworks overlooking Bowerchalke.
Church Bottom - site of the Chalke Valley History Festival
Middleton Down Nature Reserve
Global average : 4.67/5
Number of opinions : 2
Description quality : 5/5
Routemap quality : 4/5
Walk interest : 5/5
Global average : 5 / 5
Date of walk
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : N/A
Walk interest : Very good
A varied, interesting and satisfying walk with some splendid views of open downland coupled with wooded sections teeming with spring wildlife. A most enjoyable day out.
Thanks for your feedback about the walk. I wrote a blog about it with photographs which you might like to read. It can be found here:
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Global average : 4.67 / 5
Date of walk
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Very good
Loved this walk - varied terrain and beautiful views
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