stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ramble around Cerne Abbas

My walking companion and good girlfriend wanted to "recce" a walk she would later be leading with the local Ramblers. We had already tried out another walk in the area, but - on taking tea afterwards in a local tea room - had seen another suggested walk printed out, which looked more interesting. Our previous walk had taken us up the nearly vertical hill by the side of the Giant. Killing climb!

The walk started from the car park with this view of the Cerne Abbas Giant. Panoramic view from the starting point at the car park

Interesting information about the Cerne Abbas giant

So on a misty autumn day, we were going to try the new one, from the instructions but also taking a map. Instructions can be ambiguous! If you want to follow our walk, Ive found a version on the internet - but it goes the opposite way around. Walk details, only the wrong way round the circular route

It started off with a hairy few yards along a main road, but even main roads in Dorset can be fairly quiet, and we didnt see one vehicle in the few minutes we walked along it. Luckily it turned off after only a few yards onto this lovely peaceful road to the hamlet of Up Cerne (yes there is a Nether Cerne too!)

The stately trees lining the lane belong the parklands of the manor house, whose lands we were walking through. Their leaves had already fallen.

Then we turned onto the approach road to the house with its outlying estate workers cottages and church. All the roads and paths we used were official public footpaths. The problem with our previous walk was that a section of it was not - and ramblers always stick to the legal paths!

We passed the gateway to the big house, and leaned on the gate a while. If you click to see the larger version you can probably make out its church to the left. Each manor house would have had its own church nearby, so the lord of the manor would not have to walk far on a Sunday morning.

Then, after a pleasant stroll along the valley by a stream, the foot path led up through a wood to a junction of paths on the ridge of the hill between the two valleys, This photo looks down the path on the right which we had just climbed. A lovely leaf littered path.

The path then turned away from Cerne Abbas, along the top of the ridge and gave us glimpses of Minterne Magna House in the valley below. As we turned down off the top of the hills down towards Minterne, we had an unfortunate meeting. A tractor in a nearby field was spraying. A broad leaved herbicide maybe, but although a fairly still day, we caught some of the drifting nastiness and put our jumpers over our mouths for a while.

My companion remembered walking in the French countryside around vineyards, when the aircraft that was crop spraying deliberately flew at them and let fly with his spray, which was choking. This tractor driver didnt do anything like that, and plodded his way up and down the hillside.

We came down into the village of Minterne Magna that surrounded the big house, whose lovely wild gardens are open in the summer, and closed on the very day we were there - but we had no time to visit. We had our coffee stop on a thoughtfully provided picnic bench in the grassy car park.
This lovely acer was in the garden of one of the estate cottages, on top of a wall alongside the footpath as we crossed the valley bottom. We had a look around the small church in the village with lots of memorials to the Churchill family (lots of Winstons going back centuries).

My companion crossing a thoughtfully provided bridge over the small River Cerne that flows through the valley and provides lakes and fishing.

And here is a waymark right in the middle of a field beside a "blasted oak". So far, so good. No problem seeing which way to go so far.

We had turned back down the valley towards Cerne Abbas but got some more views of the lovely house and gardens which are home to the Digby family and can be used as a wedding venue.

It was about this point that we lost the plot (and the path) a bit. We backtracked a few times, and always discovered where we had gone astray! We reckon we had probably put a good couple of miles on the route by mislaying the path. Once we even crossed a main road, as we were supposed to, but the path we were expecting on the other side was not to be seen! We didnt eat our sandwiches until we were reasonably sure of being on a sensible route. And at this point we finally looked at a map.

Just as it was getting a little bit dark (and I was getting a little weary) we found the path that led us along the valley and beneath the feet of the Giant. Plenty of laughs - mostly at our blindness on missing paths as we were too busy looking at the scenery or following cattle tracks! A good walk if ever you are in the area. And of course a lovely teashop in the village of Cerne Abbas.


At 10:54 pm, Blogger Zen said...

Is that some kind of UFO marking on the hill in the first picture???

At 2:56 pm, Blogger Val said...

No, the link that says "interesting information about the Cerne Abbas Giant" will give you a bit about it!

At 2:43 am, Blogger Kerri said...

You have some wonderful countryside for hikes, Val. Your photos show us the beauty. Thanks for sharing it.
That acer above the rock wall is glorious!
And the old buildings are magnificent. How in the world do they heat such huge spaces without going broke?


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