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The Dorset walk — Bettiscombe and Pilsdon

Bettiscombe and Pilsdon Matt Wilkinson and Mark Bauer on the edge of the Marshwood Vale

The trig point on top of Pilsdon Pen
The trig point on top of Pilsdon Pen

Distance: About 5½ miles

Start: In the parking space at the south-eastern end of Pilsdon Pen, on the Broadwindsor-Marshwood road. OS ref ST414009.

How to get there: Take the B3163 from Beaminster to Broadwindsor. Drive through the village and at the end of the one-way system, just past the White Lion, turn left by the village shop to Marshwood and Axminster. Continue for 2 miles to the parking space on the left, just past the turning signed to Pilsdon and Shave Cross.

Maps: OS Explorer 116 (Lyme Regis and Bridport); OS Landranger 193 (Taunton & Lyme Regis)

Refreshments: None on the route but Broadwindsor offers the White Lion and the tearoom/restaurant at the Broadwindsor Craft Centre.

 Looking south-east from Pilsdon Pen
Looking south-east from Pilsdon Pen

1. Cross the road and the stile opposite the parking place and climb up to the trig point on the near end of Pilsdon Pen. Walk straight on along the top of the Pen to the far end, where bear left through a gap in the bank and hedgerow to a gate. Don’t go through the gate but turn left to follow a sunken path – not the one closest to the fence but the one next away from it. In about 100 yards bear right, so that the fence is now on the right, and follow it downhill to a gate on the right. Go through the gate and turn right on a track. At the gate at the top of the track, bear half-left across the hilltop to reach the right-hand of two gates about 60 yards up from the far right-hand corner. In the next field follow the left-hand edge and go straight across the next field to a gate visible on the far side. Beyond this gate follow the left-hand field-edge, which eventually bends sharply to the left to reach a gate on the left in about 25 yards.

 St Stephen's, Bettiscombe
St Stephen’s, Bettiscombe

2. Go through this gate and follow the right-hand field-edge to a gate. Turn left onto a track. In 250 yards, as the main track swings to the right, take the left fork. In a further 150 yards, fork right, downhill. The track becomes a paved lane and leads up to a road. Turn right and walk for a few yards before turning left through a gate. Bear left to follow the field-edge and go through a gate in the first corner. Now the hedgerow is on the right. Follow it down to a gate by the corner of a belt of trees and continue straight ahead on a grassy path. The path runs along the back wall of Bettiscombe Manor and continues round the edge of the property to reach a gate onto the drive. Turn right and walk up the drive to reach the road through Bettiscombe next to the village hall.

On the way down to Bettiscombe
On the way down to Bettiscombe

3. Turn left and take the first turning left, at the end of some woodland. Continue straight ahead through some farm buildings, after which the drive becomes a rough track. Follow this as it swings to the left, after which turn immediately right to walk down the right-hand edge of a field. At the bottom of the field go through two gates and walk straight ahead, up the slope, to a hunting gate. Bear very slightly right to an inside corner in the right-hand field-edge, under an ash tree. Reaching this, continue in the same direction to reach a gate in the top right-hand corner of the field. On the other side of the gate, bear left over the brow of the hill and head for a gate about 200 yards to the right of the top left-hand corner of the field. Go through the gate and turn right to follow the right-hand field-edge down to a gate. Turn left and go through another gate onto a lane. Turn left. On the second left-hand bend, fork right to walk down to St Mary’s Church and Pilsdon Manor.

Pilsdon Church and Manor
Pilsdon Church and Manor

4. Retrace your steps up the lane, forking right at the first fork and then turning right. In ? mile turn left, passing to the right of some ruinous farm buildings; it is the second of two paths which leave the lane on the left in quick succession. Walk straight up the field to a gate about 100 yards to the left of the top right-hand corner. In the next field bear left and walk up to a gate in the top left-hand corner. Beyond it, turn left to walk up the left-hand edge of the field. Cross a stile straight ahead into the garden of Pilsdon Barn and follow the hedge on the left to go round the buildings, leaving them to the right. Just before the tennis court, bear right to a stile. Cross the stile, turn left and walk up to the T-junction. The parking space is just on the left.

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