Damerham from Martin Down 

Despite my vast network of walks in the local area I occasionally look at an Ordnance Survey map and spot a village or area I have not walked through.  Sometimes I may have driven through the village in the distant past, but there are some places I’ve never been to.  Although it is relatively close to home I have somehow always passed by Damerham.  So today’s route will incorporate a wander into this Hampshire village.

The starting point for my walk is the Martin Down Nature Reserve car park besides the A354 where I meet up with my walking buddy Nigel from New Forest Navigation.  Heading out from the south end of the car park we pass the metal barrier beside the information board and head onto the Martin Down Nature Reserve.

Initially the path heads through bushes and then opens out onto the vast expanse of the nature reserve, over 850 acres of protected land providing a haven for flora and fauna.  We follow the track towards the dominant rifle range butt in front of us.  This area was used as a military rifle range until the 1950’s and evidence is still strewn across this area of the downs.  Before reaching the butt we take a path on the right leading across to the Bokerley Dyke.  On reaching the dyke we turn left and follow it heading in a south easterly direction.

This ditch is thought to have been constructed during the Iron Age and fortified in the 5th century.  It runs for around 3.5 miles and is an impressive structure and an easy feature to follow.  On arrival at the car park it looked like we might miss the forecast rain, however, as soon as we commenced walking it started and it is now lashing down.  To make matters worse a strong wind is blowing.  The temperature has dropped and it feels more like mid-winter than spring.

We stay with the Bokerley Dyke  until we reach a junction of paths where we turn right to join the route of the Dorset Jubilee Trail.  This is the start point of a 90-mile long distance path that heads through Dorset to reach Forde Abbey on the Somerset Border.

On reaching a junction of paths near Whitey Top Farm we cross a stile to enter the open access land of Pentridge Down.  Here we join a grass track which heads steadily uphill towards Penbury Knoll in the distance.

This is a cracking area of chalk downland and below us to the right is evidence of ancient field systems.  Unfortunately the rain and wind make conditions unsuitable to hang around to take in the views and we are glad to reach the protection of the trees on Penbury Knoll at the summit of the hill.

We pass the previously bagged Ordnance Survey trig pillar tucked away in the trees, this is a spot I have visited on a number of occasions.  

We follow the broad track through a gate to continue along through a pasture field to reach another gate which we go through to join a hedge lined track heading south east towards Jack’s Hedge Corner and Cranborne.

Finally the rain has stopped and there is a hint of sunshine which despite the harsh wind has caused a rise in temperature.  It is good drying conditions for our sodden waterproofs.  The temptation is to take them off, but I prefer to wait until they have dried out before packing them away.

At Jack’s Hedge Corner we reach a junction of paths and turn left to head downhill towards farm buildings in Toby’s Bottom.

After passing the barns the track forks, we go to the right and follow the track towards cottages on the edge of Boveridge.

After crossing a road we join a minor lane and soon pass the former St Aldhelm’s church with it’s interesting bell tower.  This church was built in 1836 and underwent restoration in 1896 and served the small local community until it was closed by the Church of England in 1980.  It has now been converted into a private house.

We leave the lane at a fingerpost into Burwood and head south on a broad path into the trees.

The footpath is easy to follow through the woods and it leads to a minor road where we turn right and then almost immediately take a path on the left which follows the hedge line beside a field.

On reaching a tarmac pathway we turn to the left and head towards a minor road.  Passing a gate we cross the road and continue up a track to Holwell Farm.  This farm is home to the Sixpenny Brewery.  Originally located nearby Sixpenny Handley the brewery relocated to this site in 2016 and now runs a popular shop and tap room which has won a number of awards from the Campaign for Real Ale.  

Resisting the temptation to pop into the Brewery Tap for a pint we continue along the track and at a junction of paths we fork left to head up Jordan Hill.   After crossing a stile we continue on the footpath through woodland.

The path reaches a broad drove where we turn right.  After passing a house in the woods we reach a fallen tree trunk which has been left as a seat. We make use of it for our lunch spot, sitting in sunshine and enjoying the views to the south.

Resuming our walk we continue along the track to reach farm buildings where we turn left along a track, Pye Lane.

After about 300 metres we turn right to head across a field near Ley Farm.

We join the farm drive and then at a minor road we cross and take a footpath on the right which initially heads up a track before crossing a field to pass under power lines and go over a small footbridge into another field.  The path heads across the field and then after passing through a fence line we turn left at a junction of paths and follow the fence line to cross  a new wooden bridge.

After going under the power lines again we follow the footpath towards the edge of Bratch Copse.  At a junction of paths we turn right and head for Hyde Farm.  We pass through the farm buildings and continue towards Hyde Cross.

At a junction of tracks at Hyde Cross we go left and head north, after just under 200 metres we take a path on the right and follow it to Ashley Park Farm.

In the farm we cross a stile beside a gate and then go right along a track through the farmyard and then follow a minor road heading east. At a junction of lanes we turn left and head towards Damerham.  Ignoring a lane to our left we keep heading north for another 250 metres to reach a junction where we turn left and head towards the Allen River.

After crossing the river we turn left just after the village hall and head through North End,.  At a junction of roads we cross and join a track and then after almost 200 metres we turn right onto another track.

This track leads us to a junction of paths at Knoll Farm, here we turn right and follow a track beside a belt of trees.

Leaving the track we enter a field and turn left to walk along the edge, with woodland on our left.

After passing a boundary stone in the woods the footpath goes through a gate to continue in the woodland of Bokerley Dyke Plantation.

Emerging from the trees we follow the path along the edge of a field and ignore paths to our left and right.  At the corner of the field we turn left and then follow the path as it turns right at Beggar’s Bush and descends towards Knap Barrow Farm.

Passing farm buildings we join the track and soon take a footpath on the right leading to a track at the edge of the field, Angel’s Lane.  It is flooded and running with water so the only option is to follow the well-worn path along the edge of the field to reach a minor road where we turn right and walk into Martin and soon reach the Community Shop.

After popping into the shop we continue on to the village green with it’s millennium cross showing it is 37.5 miles to Glastonbury.  Apparently the significance of this is that back in 945 Edmund, King of Mercia, bestowed the Damerham and Martin Estate to his wife Ethelfled on the condition that she should leave it to the “ancient church of the blessed Mary in the monastery of Glastonberi”, the Abbot of Glastonbury held a manor which included the village for many centuries. 

Close to the millennium stone is the base of the old market cross the history of which appears hard to determine, but it is thought to date from the 5th century.

From the green we head west leaving the village along Sillens Lane, a steady stream of water is running down covering the whole road.  At times we have to identify the shallowest areas in order to avoid getting wet feet. 

This road leads to a car park on the edge of Martin Down.  Here we keep heading west across the downs until we reach a junction of paths beside a Grim’s Ditch.  From here we follow a clear track heading northwest towards the rifle butts.

After passing the rifle butt we continue along the track to reach our starting point in the car park.  Our walk has covered almost eighteen miles and despite the wet and chilly start it has been a cracking route.

You can view this 18 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File here.

To follow my walk, you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 118 Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase; and OL22 New Forest

15th April 2024

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2024)

All information on this site is provided free of charge and in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of damage, loss or injury which might result from it.  To the best of my knowledge the routes are entirely on public rights of way or within areas that are open for public access.
Walking can be hazardous and is done entirely at your own risk.  It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass.

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