Bradford Abbas and Ryme Intrinseca
Matt Wilkinson and Dan Bold explore to the south-west of Sherborne
Published in May ’12
This walk is undemanding, in the peaceful countryside where Dorset begins to run into the area of south Somerset around Yeovil. It starts in Bradford Abbas, where the lovely golden limestone of the older part of the village is not overwhelmed – quite – by some Philistine modern development. Its towering glory, literally, is the parish church of St Mary, which rises to ninety feet and has been called ‘a miniature cathedral’. It contains the tomb of William Harvey, who died of wounds received fighting for King James II at the battle of Bridport, the first skirmish after the Duke of Monmouth’s rebel army had landed at Lyme Regis in 1685.
Clifton Maybank is one of Dorset’s lost houses. The wing that remains is pretty impressive, but it is only a fragment of the mansion built in the 16th century for the Horsey family. Most of it was demolished in 1786 and much of the stone, including a complete front, was bought by Edward Phelips, who re-used it in his house at Montacute in Somerset. Montacute House, now a National Trust property, is only six miles away.
Ryme Intrinseca has three claims to fame. First, its name, which means land lying within the manor of Ryme. ‘Ryme’ is the same word as ‘rim’ and refers to the shape of the land hereabouts and not, as has been suggested, to the village’s proximity to the edge of Dorset. The now defunct name, Ryme Extrinseca, was given to lands owned by the manor in Long Bredy. Second, its parish church, which is one of only two in the country dedicated to St Hippolyte, and which has all the quirkiness and sense of historical continuity that you find in the best village churches. Third and most recent, the delightfully imaginative conversion of its old red telephone box into a book exchange.
1 Walk up the village street with the Rose & Crown on the right. Pass between the church on the right and the village hall and school on the left. Turn left into Mill Lane, down the side of the school. At the end of the lane bear right onto a track and in front of a metal gate turn left down an enclosed path to a bridge. On the other side of the bridge, turn right to follow the right-hand edge to the very far end of the field. Here go through a kissing gate and under one of the arches of the rather grandly named Bradford Viaduct. Emerge into an open field and parallel the right-hand edge until about two-thirds of the way along the field, where it turns sharply away to the right (the house of Clifton Maybank is coming into view at this point). Head in the same direction as before, towards a metal gate at a junction between a hedgerow and a wooden fence.
2 Turn right on the road beyond and follow it for just over ½ mile to the drive to Cowpool Farm. Turn left on this drive and follow it through the farm buildings and down a track running to the right of a large barn. Where the track swings sharply to the right, continue straight ahead until a hedgerow on the far side comes into view, then head for the point where it meets a large wood on the left. (If the field is in use, reach this point by turning left on leaving the track and right at the next corner.) Go through a gap into the next field and follow round the edge of the wood, going through a gate into the next field. The edge of the wood bends gently left then right before turning sharply away to the left. At this point, continue straight ahead along a hedgerow on the left and over a rise. At the top of the rise, go through a metal gate and continue on a track through woodland. The track then runs between hedges and under a pylon line to join the paved drive of Frankham Farm. Go straight ahead towards the farmhouse, leaving it on the left to continue down the drive to a road. Turn left and walk into Ryme Intrinseca.
3 Just after the telephone box converted to a library, turn left on a track which runs down the far side of the Old School House. Bear right then left down a path at the end of the track, cross a stile and follow the left-hand field-edge to a bridge and stile. Bear left to cross another stile at the next corner in a few yards. Turn right to follow the right-hand edge of this and the next field. Cross the first stile on the right in the second field, then turn left to follow the left-hand edge for about 200 yards, at which point strike off diagonally across the field to the far right-hand corner (or, if the field is in use, continue up the edge, turning right at the next corner to reach the far right-hand corner). Go through a metal gate into woodland and turn immediately right over a stile. Follow the path that runs along this narrow belt of woodland, for the most part just inside its left-hand edge.
4 Reaching a distinct cross-paths in about ¼ mile, turn left and head across an open field, aiming to reach the far side just where it is crossed by the further line of wires. Here join a track which crosses the next field and bears left into Clifton Farm. Walk ahead down the farm’s paved drive, past a yellow-painted house on the right and, at the bottom of a slope, the drive to another house. Immediately past this drive, cross a bridge and stile in the hedgerow on the right. Bear half-left and cross to a stile a little more than halfway along the left-hand side of the field. In the next field, bear right towards the very far right-hand corner. Some 80 yards to the left of it, cross a stile and follow a rather indistinct path through a small patch of woodland to arrive at another stile. Turn right and walk to a railway crossing, after which bear left and head for a stile rather to the left of a line to the clearly visible tower of Bradford Abbas parish church. Cross the road beyond on a slight right-left dog-leg and go through a kissing-gate. Cross the field and turn right to follow the left-hand edge to a kissing-gate onto a bridge. Now retrace your steps from the start of the walk: go up the enclosed path ahead, turn right onto the track, left onto Mill Lane, and right onto the main road through the village to return to your car.
Distance: About 6¼ miles.
Terrain: Not at all challenging. Roads and field-paths, with no steep gradients. The two stretches of road can be busy and must be negotiated with care. One stretch of woodland may be muddy.
Start: In the village street of Bradford Abbas, near the Rose and Crown. OS ref ST588142. Postcode DT9 6RF.
How to get there: On the southern edge of Sherborne, turn west off the A352 towards Thornford and Yetminster. Continue for about 4¾ miles to a turning on the left, signed to Bradford Abbas, which leads directly into the village street.
Maps: OS Explorer 129 (Yeovil & Sherborne); OS Landranger 183 (Yeovil & Frome).
Refreshments: The Rose & Crown, Bradford Abbas.