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Walks Guide

The local Parish Rights of Way (PROW) group have prepared a set of 18 local circular walks, to promote health and fitness and enable people to enjoy our beautiful countryside. There are many footpaths and bridleways in Corscombe, Halstock, West and East Chelborough, within the AONB, and these walks cover over 100km of paths.

The following links provide downloads of an index to the walks, a potted history of the four parishes, and, for each walk, a detailed description with annotated waypoints, and a map showing the route and waypoints. There are links for each route to the OS website.

The walks are intended for both local residents and visitors to the area to download and enjoy, and are also published as hard copies in a Walks Guide – please enquire at Halstock Village Shop.

Please respect the Countryside Code, and happy and healthy walking!

The Parish Rights of Way group”.

Walk 1 – Bracketts Coppice

Start and finish: Park at the end of Common Lane (A) opposite Ryewater Farm where there is room to get off the road. Alternatively use the carpark for Bracketts Coppice Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve, home to rare butterflies, bats and wildflowers, so please treat it with respect.

Walk 2- Marshwood Vale View

Start and finish: The walk starts on Ryam Lane (A), opposite Knapp Farmhouse, next to Knapp Cottage. Parking can be found on the road in Corscombe village just a short walk away.

 

Walk 3 – Halstock to Wood Farm

Start and finish: The walk starts at the green triangle in the centre of Halstock (A), where parking can be found.

Walk 4 – Halstock, East and West Chelborough

Start and finish: At point (A) in the centre of Halstock by the small village green. Park on the road and head for the Quiet Woman B&B, named after St Juthware. Halstock Village Shop is nearby.

Walk 5 – Fox Inn to West Chelborough

Start and finish: The walk starts at the Fox Inn in Corscombe (A), where parking can be found. Please let the Inn know if using their car park during opening times and have some refreshments at the Inn on the return from the walk.

Walk 6 – Chelborough Hill

Start and finish: At point (A) at Grexy Cross where the road is wide enough for parking.

Walk 7 – Crook Hill to Ryewater Round

Start and finish: The recommended start point is at the foot of Crook Hill (National Trust). Cars can be parked off the road opposite Crook Hill adjacent to a modem barn (

Walks Guide index

Welcome to the Corscombe, Halstock, East and West Chelborough walks guide. Produced by the local Parish Rights of Way Group (PROW), sponsored by local organisations and businesses. Please respect The Countryside Code, visit www.gov.uk/countryside-code.

Walk 8 – Winyard’s Gap

Start and finish: Parking is available at the Winyard’s Gap Inn, point (A), the start and finish for the walk. Please let the Inn know if using their car park during opening times and have some refreshments at the Inn on the return from the walk.

Walk 9 – Merrylands and Common Lane

Start and finish: Start at (A) on the Corscombe to Halstock road, where there is parking, taking care not to obstruct the gateway. Alternatively, park at the Fox Inn (M) and walk along the road to (A). Please let the Inn know if using their car park during opening times and have some refreshments at the Inn on the return from the walk.

Walk 10 – Halstock to Melbury Circuit

Start and finish: At Clarkham Cross point (A), where there is parking.

Walk 11 – Hooke and Toller Whelme

Start and finish: Start and finish at (A), parking can be found 200m southwest of the Toller Down crossroads towards Beaminster. There is room for parking, avoiding the field gate, and from here walk southwest 200m along the road to a field gate (B) on the left.

Walk 12 – Corscombe Round

Start and finish: The walk starts at the Fox Inn in Corscombe (A), where parking can be found. Please let the Inn know if using their car park during opening times and have some refreshments at the Inn on the return from the walk.

Walk 13 – Causeway and Harvard Farm

Start and finish: The walk starts at Halstock Village Shop (A), where there is parking. Visit the shop for provisions for the walk, or a coffee, and maybe purchase some local produce and crafts.

Walk 14 – Liberty Farm

Start and finish: Park in Halstock village and head for Quiet Woman House (A), a former Inn named after St Juthware, who was martyred in the village in Saxon times.

Walk 15 – Halstock Mill

Start and Finish: The walk starts from Halstock Village triangle, (A), with parking.

Walk 16 – Hardington Marsh (Borderlands)

Start and finish: The walk starts from (A). Parking is available at the triangle signposted Higher Halstock Leigh.

Walk 17 – Halstock to Pendomer

Start and Finish: At point (A) the Halstock Village Hall car park.

Walk 18 – Corscombe and Chelborough Church Round

Start and Finish: At point (A) Corscombe St Mary’s Church car park.

A Potted History of the Group Parishes

A Potted History of the Group Parishes

The parishes lie together in West Dorset AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and their landscape has been shaped by agriculture over many centuries. The chalk and limestone ridges and lush clay valleys are a patchwork of small fields with hedges and coppices and many streams.

Settlement has been dated from at least the Iron Age. There was a large Roman villa and farm in Halstock and there are signs of Roman activity elsewhere locally.
From Saxon times there were many scattered small farms in a feudal system. Royal charters mapped out the (still traceable) boundaries of Corscombe and Halstock and gifted produce from these parishes to Sherborne Abbey. A Grange at Court Farm, Corscombe, acted as a collecting point for provisions for the monks and a court for settling disputes. Other parts of the area sent supplies to Forde Abbey or Frampton Priory.

The settlements are recorded in Domesday Book – Coriescumb (includes Halghestok), Catsclive (Catsley) and Celburge (“12 unbroken mares, 5 cattle, 5 pigs”) – sparsely populated, with some cultivated land but mostly woods. There are remains of a motte and bailey on Castle Hill at East Chelborough. Their date and purpose are not known.

Life continued in a feudal pattern till the dissolution of the monasteries when Henry VIII gave much of the area to the distant Earl of Pomfret. After this, farms and land were gradually sold off or given, so that a patchwork of holdings emerged. Though there have been some greater landowners (notably Thomas Hollis in the late 18th century who renamed his fields according to his philosophies) there is no tradition of an overall ‘lord of the manor’ and the area has always included many small independent family farms.

Two main settlements emerged, Corscombe and Halstock (populations of each parish now approx. 500), but there were, and are, many other smaller groupings of widely spread farms and cottages. Some still exist, some have decayed. Facilities grew to support these: mills at Corscombe and Halstock, inns and alehouses, churches, and local trades, and later, schools. There was even a lunatic asylum at Halstock from about 1722 to 1858. By Victorian times the area was thriving and productive. However, by the early 20th century agriculture was in decline, larger holdings were sold off and population numbers plummeted. There was no real change until after WWII when in the 1950/60s (!) electricity, piped water and sewerage were installed in the villages. Houses were renovated, and now, although farming and equine activities dominate the landscape, few work on the land. Residents now largely work elsewhere or are retired, with a growth in small businesses.

The Church’s influence is evident from Saxon times. The original church buildings were probably wooden. Now there are much renovated but comely old-established churches at Corscombe, Halstock (dedicated to St. Juthware ‘the quiet woman’), Lewcombe and West Chelborough; and a mid-19th century one in Toller Whelme.

Corscombe, Halstock, East and West Chelborough Walks Guide Walks Guide Potted History – V1.0

Buildings before the 20th century are mostly of local stone. There are some notable larger old houses such as Corscombe Court (with its tithe barn), Toller Whelme Manor and Benville Manor, and many listed farmhouses and cottages.

Roads and tracks in the parishes were mainly for access between farmsteads, to church or school, to work in the fields or to common grazing. Some drove roads skirt the area. The only major roads are now the A356, built by the Maiden Newton Turnpike Trust along the downs in the late 18th century for stagecoaches to avoid the muddy valley tracks; and the B3163 from Toller Down Gate to Beaminster. All others, like a former turnpike road via Benville, are minor, narrow, and many have degenerated to tracks, bridleways or have disappeared. The present network of green lanes and rights of way echoes the old routes.

History References

For more information and local tales see:

  • A History of Halstock, by Pam Lemmey ISBN 0 951 2063 0 3
  • Corscombe, by Eric H Cox 1970
  • Corscombe Through the Ages, by Mary and Peter Sadler 1990
  • St Mary’s Church, Corscombe by Andrew Tomkins 2015
  • Adam’s Green – Memories of Life on a Dorset Hillside, by Maurice Walker
  • The Toller Whelme Book, Wayne Bennett 1987
  • A History of Halstock Mill, Beaminster Museum
About Corscombe

Corscombe is a small village in West Dorset of some five thousand acres that has a population of around 450 people and according to the last census in 2011 a total of 207 houses.

Corscombe village sits on very high ground and a mile from Toller Down which is one of the highest hills in Dorset.

It is designated as area of outstanding natural beauty.

Corscombe Village Hall, Corscombe, Dorchester,
DT2 0NU, Dorset, England

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