Sunday, 17 June 2012

Sydling St Nicholas

Sydling St Nicholas High Street

We walked in this area with our friends Judith and Tony recently, but relentless rain precluded any photographs, interesting events or reflections. Warm, if cloudy weather was promised for today so we thought we would try again.

This walk starts at the cross-roads at the centre of the lovely village of Sydling St Nicholas. The stump on the left in the photo is all that remains of the town cross. The substantial Georgian house beyond it is the biggest in the village, and the only one like it, but the two hidden behind the hedge are earlier and more interesting.

We walked up to the 15th century church of St Nicholas. Pevsner notes that the chancel (which looks odd) is an 18th century remodelling and that the tower was built independently of the church.

We followed a winding route steadily uphill towards The Combe and Breakheart Hill. As we climbed it changed from a hedged track to a narrow path through woodland and finally a field-edge path. We crossed into the next field to begin the descent and enjoyed fine views across the valley below with a long ridge beyond.

The descent across the valley brought us past the substantial, but very battered tithe barn and then out of the village along another track which eventually emerged into open fields on Combe Hill. We climbed and then followed a path around the top of the hillside in a long curve with more wonderful views.

Perhaps the best of the views were at the head of the valley.

We now circled behind a small copse and followed a rutted track through the centre of a large cow pasture to gradually descend Hog Moor to reach the road. As we did so,a sign revealed that this nature reserve was home to a colony of Marsh Fritillary butterflies. Sadly we saw none, which was a great pity as this is very much the right time of year for them. We did see a few Meadow Browns and a Small Tortoiseshell, but that was all.

The final section follows the road back into the village with the fast flowing Sydling Water on the right hand side. Many of the houses here have beautiful flower gardens on the river bank and this was easily the prettiest.

Conditions: cloudy, but quite warm.

Distance: said to be 4.5 miles, but seemed to be over 5.

From: Dorset magazine February 2011.

Map: Explorer117 (Cerne Abbas and Bere Regis).

Rating: four stars.

Flower of the day

We saw this Selfheal nestling in the long grass as we climbed Combe Hill.

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