Walking The Sarum Way

Over twenty years ago I purchased a guide to The Sarum Way, a circular walk around Salisbury and Wilton covering over thirty miles.  I have often thought about tackling this walk but in normal times we spend long periods away in the caravan and I have difficultly finding a whole day at home when I can head out.  

During the lock down period I came across the guide and whilst plotting the route realised some of the original permitted paths through Clarendon Estate are no longer accessible and starting from my home village would lengthen the route to around thirty three miles.  A good days walking! 

My walk starts from outside the Silver Plough pub in Pitton.  Leaving the car park I cross the road and take the track to the left of the village hall passing the village playing field.  Just after the tennis court the footpath leaves the track and follows a parallel route on the left.  This leads into a copse where just after passing Coldharbour Cottage I fork left and head steadily uphill through the copse to reach a fence lined path along the ridge with memorial benches.

At a junction of paths I continue straight on along a track, Cock Row, so called because in medieval times local peasants used to net Woodcock along it.  I stay with this track until I reach a tarmac drive where I continue straight on to a junction with Lucewood Lane.  Here I turn right and walk along the road.  At a T-junction I turn left onto Clarendon Road and after a couple of hundred yards fork right into Green Drove.

At the bottom of the drove I carry straight on to cross the River Dun and then go right following the road through the village of West Grimstead to reach a green with a bench.  From the green I follow a path running inside a hedge parallel to Grimstead Road heading towards Whaddon.

Nearing Whaddon the path joins a pavement and crosses the A36.  I then continue down the road to a junction where I turn right onto the Southampton Road.  Prior to the by-pass this was the main Salisbury to Southampton route.  Within a hundred yards I turn left opposite the village shop to walk along an unmade road, Castle Lane.  When the lane forks I go left and then join a footpath on the right and stay with this to pass Matron’s College Farm.

This footpath crosses the disused Salisbury and Dorset Junction Railway and continues on a clear track across arable fields.

At a junction of footpaths I turn right and after crossing the disused railway line again turn left and walk along a permissive route parallel to the railway line.  The Salisbury and Dorset Junction Railway was an 18 mile line spurring from the Salisbury Southampton line at a junction in Alderbury through Downton and Fordingbridge to West Moors where it connected with the main Southampton to Dorchester line.  The line was completed in 1866 and operated until May 1964.  This section of the line ran through a deep cutting.

I keep the disused railway to my left until I reach Four Gates, after passing through a gate I turn right and walk along a minor road to reach a junction with Witherington Road where I turn right and follow this minor road downhill towards Standlynch Farm.  Just before the entrance to the farm I take a footpath on the left which heads into woodland.

These woods are part of the Trafalgar Park estate and after passing through a gate I catch a glimpse of the main house.  As you might imagine with a name like Trafalgar this estate has connections with Admiral Horatio Nelson.  Following Horatio’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 his brother Rev William Nelson was created 1st Earl Nelson and apparently lobbied Parliament for an estate in recognition of his brother’s service to the Nation.  Standlynch Park was the location chosen by the Treasury and it was renamed Trafalger Park.  Descendants of Horatio Nelson lived here until 1948 when it was sold by the 5th Earl Nelson.

After crossing a field I go through another gate to follow a track through woods.  I stay with this path until I reach a concrete path.  Here I turn right and head downhill to reach the disused Standlynch Mill.  

This is a cracking spot besides the River Avon.

The footpath goes over weirs on the river.  This spot is absolutely stunning. 

After a series of small footbridges I reach a field and fork right to head towards Charlton-All-Saints.  The exit from the field is by way of an unusual turnstile gate.

I now turn left along a path to reach a road running through the village where I turn right and walk along Lower Road.  At All Saints Church I turn left into Church Lane.

After a few hundred yards on Church Lane I take a footpath on the right across a field.  This is the Avon Valley Path and I stay with it to cross further fields to reach a minor road where I turn right and follow the lane passing old barns and Matrimony Farm House. 

At a footpath on the left I leave the road and cross a field to reach the A338 which I cross with care to join a footpath heading uphill besides a field.  After 250 yards I go through a gate on the right to follow the Avon Valley Path as it crosses a field of pasture.  After passing through another gate I join a track and follow this past a farmyard to reach a minor road.  

I continue straight on along the road passing houses, then as the road turns to the left I take a footpath opposite to head through fields towards Odstock Farm.  After some farm buildings I continue in a westerly direction to cross a field and then follow a path leading to a minor road where I turn right and walk into Odstock to reach the Yew Tree Inn.

Passing the pub I go straight over the crossroads and keep on the road for 500 yards, crossing the River Ebble, to find a footpath on the left besides a small lay-by.  The path initially goes through bushes and then reaches arable fields.

This is a well-worn path that I am heading west on.  I ignore a path on the left and continue to a crossing of paths, I turn right and go steadily uphill to reach a drove where I turn left and follow the track to reach the A354 Blandford Road.

After crossing the road I take the track opposite, The Old Shaftesbury Drove, to reach a track junction where I turn left.  Sadly this drove appears to be a popular location for fly tipping.

The drove continues past properties and then becomes a hedge lined track rising steadily towards the race plain.  As the track starts to level the railings of the racecourse can be seen on the right with fine views beyond of Salisbury Cathedral.

This racecourse hosts flat racing and lays claim to being the venue where on 7th April 1948, Lester Piggott, aged twelve, rode his first race and also the course where the famous American jockey Steve Cauthen rode his first race in Britain.

The track continues to join a tarmac driveway and passes a caravan site and the race course grandstand.  Soon after passing the stables on the left I reach the remains of Cowper’s Cross on the grass verge.

Continuing along the tarmac driveway I reach a minor road which I cross to continue along the Old Shaftesbury Drove passing Hare Warren.  After three quarters of a mile I join a minor road.  I turn right walking besides the road for just over 100 yards to an entrance into woodland on the left.  I follow the path through the trees, ignoring paths to the right and left and occasionally enjoying fine views between the trees to the right.

The woodland track reaches a stony track, turning right I gradually descend towards South Burcombe, pausing on route to admire the stunning contours of the Punchbowl valley on the left.

After passing converted barns at Manor Farm I reach a minor road, which I cross and carry on north to cross the River Nadder, this is the third of Salisbury’s five rivers I have crossed today.

This minor road leads to the A30 opposite the church of St John, an interesting church because unusually it has a tower that is lower than the nave roof.  It is of Saxon origin, restored over the years, but apparently in 2005 the Church Commissioners declared the church redundant and it is now closed.

After visiting the church I head east on the pavement besides the A30 to reach a footpath on the left.  I cross the road and take the footpath heading up to cross the main Exeter to Salisbury railway line before continuing steadily uphill towards a barn. Here the track turns left and soon after right to continue the steady ascent of the hill. 

Soon after passing farm buildings on the left I reach a crossing of paths, my route is straight on and I stay with the waymarked route as it enters trees. 

At a junction of paths close to a Grim’s Ditch I make a short diversion, turning right along a track through the trees and then follow the hedge line on the right to reach the Ordnance Survey trig pillar on Grovelly Hill.  This is the 208th I have bagged.

From the trig pillar I retrace my steps and continue north through Heath Wood, passing an ancient earthworks and staying with the way marked route. 

At a crossing of tracks I go right and descend to the edge of the woodland to cross a stile into a field. I go right along the fence line and enter another field and then go left to join a path across access land above a stunning valley.

The path descends steadily to a stile which I cross and continue diagonally across an arable field to reach a track. 

I walk under the railway line to join a minor road turning right and then within a few yards I take a footpath on the left leading down to the River Wylie. This offers an ideal bench besides the river a perfect spot for lunch.

After my break I resume the walk continuing besides the river to a footbridge leading into South Newton. Besides the path, in the field to the right, is a World War II pillbox.

On reaching the village, where the busy A36 runs through, I turn right to walk on the pavement to reach Forge Close on the opposite side of the road.  I cross with care into the Close and then carry on besides allotments.  After passing more houses the footpath turns right to head out onto an arable field.  At the field boundary I turn left on a track heading steadily uphill.  At a fork in the track the path goes to the right and heads onto downland with fine views.

I continue along the top of the downs with a fence to my right to reach a stile near a copse. After crossing I follow the path towards telecom ariels at the top of the hill. 

After passing the masts the route follows a track and soon arrives at an Ordnance Survey trig pillar on the hedge line, this becomes my 209th bagged trig. 

Further along the track I pass the Bronze Age burial chamber of Newton Barrow.  Apparently excavation work in 1805 discovered a skeleton with amber beads and eighteen perforated wolves and dogs’ teeth, thought to have been a necklace.  These days the barrow is only a small mound besides the track.

On reaching the A360 I cross and take the footpath opposite heading towards woodland.  As I reach the edge of the trees the path turns to the right and starts the long steady descent towards Lower Woodford.

After passing farm buildings I carry on down to the village.  I have now joined the Monarch’s Way; this route gets its name from following the escape route taken by King Charles II in 1651 after his defeat by Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester. The route is 625 miles long, starting in Worcester and travelling through Stratford upon Avon, Stow on the Wold, Cirencester, Bristol, Yeovil and then through Dorset to continue along the south coast to Brighton before ending at Shoreham-by-the Sea. In recent years I have walked a number of sections of this long distance path but this part is new to me.

In the village I turn right and then almost immediately left, just after the Victorian Wall Postbox, taking a waymarked path through a gate besides a cattle grid. It then passes along the drive of a property to reach a bridge over the River Avon.

After crossing the river the path goes uphill to a minor road where I turn left and then almost immediately right at Salterton Farm.  Keeping the farmyard to my left I go through a gate.

The path goes steadily uphill with good views of the Woodford Valley.

I stay with the Monarch’s Way path as it heads towards the A345 at Longhedge.  Until recently Longhedge was farm land but these days it is a vast housing development, part of the expansion of Salisbury.  It won’t be too long before the houses reach the Monarch’s Way path.  

Crossing the A345 still on the Monarchs Way I follow a drove to reach a road known as Portway, there is a World War II pillbox in the field to my right.

I cross the road and start to descend towards Hurdcott.  As I near the village the Monarch’s Way goes to the left but I continue straight on, crossing the River Bourne, my fifth Salisbury river of the day, before turning right into the village and shortly after take another right into Black Horse Lane, passing the Black Horse pub.

At the end of the lane I join a footpath and follow this as it skirts the edge of a field and then goes through the hedge line into a second field to continue running behind houses.  This soon opens up into a driveway to properties and then reaches a minor road in Ford where I turn left and walk up to Broken Cross Bridge, that crosses the railway line.  After carefully crossing the bridge I turn left into Old Malthouse Lane.  After a couple of hundred yards just as I reach industrial barns I take a footpath on the right and follow the path steadily uphill towards the A30.

I cross the main road with care and continue on the far side through a hedge to follow a farm track along the side of a field. The path ascends steadily with some fine views back across Salisbury.

At the top corner of the field I turn right and follow the edge of the field to join a path leading through bushes to reach a kissing gate onto the open access land of Cockey Down Nature Reserve. My route follows a path along the top of the downs towards a clump of trees.

After passing through the trees the path descends steeply and continues south on Laverstock Down.

At a fork in the path I go left and head uphill to a kissing gate and then follow a hedge lined path to the Clarendon Estate gates at Rangers Lodge Farm.  I turn left, now on the Clarendon Way and follow the Estate Road before forking right onto the footpath that crosses a field heading towards King Manor Hill.

The path continues up a track and as it bends to the right I continue straight on to visit the remains of Clarendon Palace.  This Royal Hunting Lodge was a major residence of Kings from the reign of Henry II to Henry VII.  When I was a youngster the site was overgrown and the ruins were lost in the undergrowth, now they have been cleared and it is an interesting, historic spot to visit.

I leave the site of the palace by a gate in the north east corner and rejoin the Clarendon Way and turn left along a track.  Within a hundred yards I fork left leaving the track to follow the Clarendon Way sign into the woods.

I now stay with the Clarendon Way as it follows a clear path through the trees to reach farm buildings and then continues around the back of Four Cottages and into Pitton.  At the crossroads I turn right and walk up White Hill to reach my starting point at the Silver Plough.

I have clocked up just over 33 miles, a good days walking.  It has been a really interesting walk, some sections I have walked previously but to take on the whole route in one day has been a good challenge.  Now it is time for a reviving cup of tea before taking the dogs out for a walk!

To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps OL130 Salisbury & Stonehenge and OL131 Romsey, Andover & Test Valley

You can view this 33 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here (Subscription to OS Maps Required)

15th June 2020

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2020)

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