Monday, 18 April 2016

Maiden Newton to Hooke (Wessex Ridgeway [Dorset] 6)

St Mary's church, Maiden Newton

Much greyer and cooler than yesterday, but we resume the Wessex Ridgeway at Maiden Newton, walking towards the centre of the town and turning right to pass St Mary's church, of Norman origin. The door is said to be the second oldest in the country, after one in Westminster Abbey.You emerge around the back of the church alongside the banks of the river Frome. We could see a few Marsh Marigolds and shoots of yellow flag iris.

You follow the river to reach Chilfrome, where we enjoyed this thatched cottage with matching thatched loggia.

We headed uphill out of Chilfrome to join a long straight road called Higher Drove. Right at the start, it was clear that this overlooked a curving valley, but the hedgerow prevented any further views in that direction.

After a while we stopped to look back to the right where there was an excellent view of Cattistock with its high church tower. Pevsner describes it as the "masterpiece among [Victorian] Dorset churches". It was the work of George Gilbert Scott junior, son of the great Sir George.

At the end of the road we passed an alpaca farm, as you do nowadays, and turned left for a short way along the A356. A right turn took us to Lower Kingcome, but only after we had missed a diagonal path and emerged too far left along a hillside, looking towards the oddly named Toller Porcorum.

The excellent English place names website at Nottingham University explains that Toller was the old name for the river Hooke and porcorum is Latin for "of the pigs" - it was once know for its herds of pigs.

As we approached Lower Kingcome there was a great view of the rather mysterious (well, to me) masts of the BBC TV transmitting station at Rampisham Down.

We didn't go into the village, but immediately turned right into a road and then ahead into a climbing sunken lane. The sides were prettily covered with bluebells and primroses.

 From a field on the right we were studied by these fine long horned sheep.

We then passed through Kingcombe Coppice. At the top a lane, a winding path at the bottom of a shallow valley ...

 ... and a field path led us to Hooke. We walked down the hill to the church - the only place in this sprawling village where we could park. The church (dedicated to St Giles) is mainly Victorian.

Conditions: Grey and cool.

Distance: 6.0 miles.

Maps: Explorer 117 (Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis).

Rating: Three and a half stars. 

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