A thoroughly pleasant and not very arduous walk from Evercreech to Chesterblade, then to Batcombe and back along the River Alham. There are quite a few hills but none of them are very long and the total ascent of the walk is surprisingly modest.
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.
Start from the church in Evercreech.
(D/A) Walk past Twaddle Alley, now more prosaically named Church View, to the right and the Bell on the left, and go through an interesting iron gate into a field. Cross the field and left into the lane at the other side. Go round the right hand bend, past a house on the left and follow the path on the left just after the house which goes diagonally across a squarish-shaped field. Walk along the right hand margin of the next small field and go left into the lane through Stony Stratton.
(1) Go right at the staggered junction and walk a short distance to a right angled bend. Leave the road and walk along the path by the ford and past the left hand side of Home Farm. Continue along the right hand side of the stream, which you have to wade across after a couple of hundred metres. Now continue along the left hand side of the stream. After another couple of hundred metres cross the stream again, over a small bridge and continue across two more fields to Mill House Farm. Continue past the farm to a lane. Go right and walk up the hill to Chesterblade. Small Down Knoll, at 222m the highest hill in the immediate area can be seen through gaps in the hedge to the right. Unfortunately, there is no path to the top, which is a shame as there would be very good views of the hills to the north of Bruton, Alfreds Tower on the county boundary and right across the other side of the county to the west. Chesterblade, at the top of the hill has only a small scattering of houses and a couple of farms but its own church, by the T junction on the left. Turn right at the junction and walk up the hill to the next T junction, where you should bear right. At the next junction cross Small Down Lane and walk along the green lane down the hill.
(2) Rejoin the public road at Higher Alham and continue past Higher Alham Farm on the left and a large house on the right. Walk up the hill on the other side. At the highest point of the road follow the path on the right to a small farm. The path leads between the house on the left and farm outhouses on the right. Now walk steeply downhill to Lower Alham Farm. Go past the farmhouse and onto a footpath on the left just before an alarmingly deep looking ford. Walk up the hill and onto a lane along the side of the hill. After a short distance walk up the bridleway on the left. At the time of writing, this is currently closed on the grounds that the surface is dangerous. It is certainly deeply rutted but dangerous is a bit of an exaggeration. There were plenty of boot prints in the mud and an elderly couple I spoke to laughed and said the locals have continued to use the bridleway sign or no sign. Cross the next lane and continue diagonally across three small fields to the edge of the hill, then down to Batcombe near the T junction at the east end of the village.
(3) At the T junction take the road going straight ahead and round a right hand bend. Pass the Manor house on the right. The Three Horseshoes is down the lane on the right just before the church, and has a nice garden for outdoors drinking during the summer. Continue for another 150 metres and then left down Mill Lane to the river. Pass the houses on the right and walk down the path on the right hand side of the river. Cross a field and across the bottom of Holly Hill. Cross the road and follow the path on the other side. Now enjoy a good twenty minutes along the riverside without needing to look at your map.
(4) Cross the road at Spargrove and continue onto the path opposite the mill. At Spargrove there is an old mill, a farm, a tithe barn and manor house with ancient moat defences, and nothing else. Walk up a low hill and once in sight of the church at Lower Spargrove walk directly towards the church. Walk through the gate on the right on the far side of the church, cross a narrow lane and walk left down the lane. At the T junction follow the path on the far side across a low-lying field. Cross the road and walk across two more fields to Rodmore Farm. Pass the farm and follow the track on the right to the bottom of the village. At the first T junction go right and walk the short distance up Oxford Street back to the start.(D/A)
D/A : km 0 - alt. 86m - Evercreech Church
1 : km 3.27 - alt. 164m - Chesterblade
2 : km 5.12 - alt. 114m - Higher Alham
3 : km 7.74 - alt. 109m - Batcombe
4 : km 10.31 - alt. 72m - Spargrove
D/A : km 13.66 - alt. 86m - Evercreech Church
In normal times there are two excellent pubs. The Bell at Evercreech, a real local's pub, and the Three Horseshoes at Batcombe, consistently reviewed as one of the best pubs in the country.
There is some road walking on very quiet lanes.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
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