The best of Dorset in words and pictures

The Dorset walk 1 – Drimpton and Burstock

Matt Wilkinson and Dan Bold in the far north-west of the county

The landscapes open out the further west one goes


The landscape of West Dorset divides between the tight little valleys to the east, around villages like Powerstock and Loders, and the broader vistas further west, where the hills are more separated and the valleys feel less deep and secret. It is in the more westerly of these landscapes that our walk lies, an area of open fields and frequent farms, bounded to the south by some of Dorset’s highest hills and to the north by South Somerset.
The walk starts in Drimpton, once a centre for spinning and weaving twine and sailcloth. Now it is an active community, with village life revolving around the Royal Oak pub and the little parish church of St Mary, built only in 1867. Drimpton has received a lot of new development in the last fifty years, and also has a stock of good older buildings, mainly of Ham stone. In the 19th century there were two attempts to bring the railway to Drimpton, which would have changed the village’s character.
Burstock is a strongly agricultural settlement, whose church of St Andrew pre-dates Drimpton’s by almost 600 years, having been built in 1280. Norman features such as the font survived a rebuild in the 15th century and a Victorian restoration in 1847. The church still benefits from the generous bequest of one John Smyth, who left three acres of land called Parish Close ‘to beautify the church’. Standing on the edge of the village, its modest tower overlooking open fields, it is a little gem of a country church. Until the Dissolution, the village was owned by Forde Abbey.

Distance: About 5 miles
Terrain: Quite undulating but with no particularly long or demanding climbs. Generally dry except after prolonged wet weather.
Start: Chard Road, Drimpton. OS reference ST417049. Postcode DT8 3RF.
How to get there: From Beaminster take the B3163 to Broadwindsor and then the B3162 to Drimpton. Go through the centre of the village and park carefully on the road soon after crossing a little bridge.
Maps: OS Explorer 116 (Lyme Regis & Bridport), OS Landranger 193 (Taunton & Lyme Regis).
Refreshments: The Royal Oak at Drimpton

The characteristic vernacular Ham Stone construction with stone mullions is typical of houses in and around Drimpton; this impressive building is Manor Farm

1  Walk on down the road past Oxhayes on the right and the village hall on the left. Go straight across a cross-roads and, in a further 100 yards, over a stile on the left. Turn right to follow the field-edge and left in the first corner. About halfway down the next side, cross a stile on the right and turn left to an opening just to the right of the next corner. Go over the brow of the next field and through an opening on the far side, then follow the left-hand edge of the field beyond. Where the field-edge bends slightly to the left, continue straight ahead to the gate at the far end of the field. Go through it and turn left on a lane for 125 yards. Bear right onto a paved area and then left onto a track with a stream on the left. The track soon does a right-left dog-leg, immediately after which turn left down the left-hand side of a large open field, followed by a much smaller one, at the end of which emerge onto a lane.

2  Turn left over the stream, then immediately right and bear right into a field. Walk along the middle of the field to a gap on the far side and continue in the same direction to meet the left-hand field-edge. Follow this to a gate on the left, about 15 yards before the corner. Go through the gate and follow the right-hand field-edge for 150 yards, where turn right and cross two plank bridges, turn left, then shortly right up the bank into a field. Turn right to follow the left-hand edge to the first corner, where turn left onto a track that leads into the farmyard of Manor Farm. Continue in the same direction to reach the lane that leads through Burstock.

3  Turn right, then take the first turning on the left up to the parish church. In front of the church, turn right and follow the churchyard wall round to a corner marked by two handsome gate-pillars. Here continue straight ahead across an open field, passing just to the right of a solitary tree. On the far side, go through a gap and follow the right-hand field-edge to a gate onto a lane just to the north of the hamlet of Hursey. Turn right and in about 25 yards left through a gate. Bear left to head for the far side of the field, where turn right and follow the left-hand field-edge, ignoring an opening on the left, right to the bottom of the field. Here cross a stream and go up a rough track to reach a lane.

The parish church at Burstock is dedicated to St Andrew; before the dissolution of the monasteries, the village was tied to the Cistercian Forde Abbey

4  Go straight ahead onto the drive of Moorlands Farm, then immediately left to walk along the bottom of the farm buildings. Turn right at the corner and halfway along the next side, left and right into an open field. Bear slightly left, aiming to pass about ten yards to the left of the left-hand of two power poles visible on the skyline of the field. Continue in the same direction to reach a gate. On the other side of the gate bear right, towards Blagdon Hill, then head for the buildings of Blagdon Farm visible ahead. Go through a gateway just to the right of the buildings and bear right on a track in about 25 yards.

5  Go through the second gateway on the left and follow the hedge on the left for two fields. In the first corner of the second field, cross a stile on the left and head down to the far corner of the next field. Go down some rough steps, turn right on a track and go across the cross-roads, signed to Seaborough. In about 350 yards, go through a gate and carefully across an all-weather gallop. Enter the next field and turn immediately right through a gate, then left to follow the field-edge. In the first corner turn right and, where the field-edge soon bends left, walk straight down the field and through two gates to reach a lane. Turn right and immediately left, then in about 250 yards, just before the village sign for Seaborough, go through a gate on the left.

6  Walk straight ahead between the stream on the right and West Swilletts Farm on the left. Bear left round the lawn beyond the farm, up to a stile in the top corner. Walk across to where an internal corner juts into the next field, pick up the right-hand field edge and follow it to a gate. Do exactly the same in the next field, this time following the field-edge to about 50 yards before the next corner, where turn right through a gate and left onto a grassy track. In about 80 yards, cross a stile on the left, and head across the field to a barn and track visible on the other side. Go up the track to pass to the left of a gate, cross a stile on the right and turn left on a track that leads to the main road through Drimpton. Turn right to return to your car. ◗

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