Thursday, 9 June 2016

Hooke to Beaminster (Wessex Ridgeway [Dorset] 7)

Donkeys near Hooke

I was going to start this post with a picture of the 17th century Hooke Court school, but a van was blocking the entrance, so the next thing of any interest was this pair of young donkeys. We set out from Hooke across fields and then along a road to follow a track down to the hamlet of Toller Whelme. This turned out to be a pretty little place, with just a few substantial houses and a Victorian church next to the manor house. This is East Farm, a delightful building.

We headed uphill away from the hamlet with beautiful shades of green off to the right and dense Red Campion and Cow Parsley in the foreground. We saw quite a number of Large White butterflies, but no others.

We climbed steadily to reach the B3163 where we turned left and then soon right onto a farm road. We followed this hedged road for some way seeing a few Speckled Woods, Green-veined Whites and Red Admirals, but lacking any more expansive vistas. We could see from the map that we were we one field away from a steep slope leading down to the bowl-shaped valley in which sits Beaminster.

The track curved gently round to the left and after a while became a path. A gap revealed a fine vista to the south, but it was already becoming hazy.

We crossed a road and continued along a field-edge path, with Beaminster Down over to the right. Eventually we turned left at the car park for Buckham Down and descended a steep, slippery sunken lane towards Beaminster. This later became a road and a mile or so later we reached the Market Place.

Beaminster is an old and attractive settlement, but suffered from being sacked by Royalist forces under Prince Maurice in 1644 and from serious fires in 1684 and 1781. The triangular Market Place is pleasant and a memorial of 1906 stands in the centre on the site of the old Market Cross. St Mary's church has a notable spire and we look forward to seeing that when we resume this walk.

Conditions: Warm (low 20s), but quite muggy; quite a lot of cloud.

Distance: 6.0 miles.

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

Rating: Three and a half stars. 

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