Sunday, 2 April 2017

Cerne Abbas and Minterne Magna

Cerne Abbas is principally famous for the Giant carved into the chalk hill to the north of the town. Wikipedia describes it as a large man with an erection and a club, which seems fair enough. It is often thought of as an ancient construction, though the earliest mention of it dates from the late 17th century and there is a view that it was therefore a 17th century construction. 

We started our walk in the centre of this attractive town, immediately noting the Giant Inn, whose signs proclaims it to be the last free house in a town which once had 13 pubs (it was once on an important coaching route).

We then turned left into Abbey Street, passing the handsome 14th century church of St Mary and this nice terrace of timber framed houses on the opposite side of the road.

At the end of Abbey St is the impressive Abbey Farm, according to Pevsner a mid-18th century reconstruction after a fire.

Off to the right are the remains of the Abbey. You can see a picture of the splendid Gatehouse in my blog of the last time we did this walk (July 2013 - I am staggered to see how poor the photos are)

We headed northwards and climbed the hill to pass below the Giant, invisible because of teh steepness of the hill. Soon there was a nice view up the valley towards Minterne Magna.

We continued along the right hand side of this wide valley and greatly enjoyed the wonderful deep shades of green below us.

We passed Minterne Pava Farm and had our first view of Minterne House, which was built as late as 1904-06 for Lord Digby by Leonard Stokes (I would have thought it was Victorian).

Soon after this we headed across the valley and had a great view to the north across the green plain towards Sherborne.

Now we had a different angle on Minterne Pava.

We headed downhill to reach the A352 and the church of St Andrew, an unusual mixture of 14th, 17th and early 19th centuries. The overall effect is quite harmonious.

We passed the gates to Minterne's gardens which are open to the public.

The walk book called for us to follow the opposite side of the valley but we decided on a shortcut  and we continued along the road and then through the park of the Minterne Estate - a pretty classic country house park.

Further along, we headed right towards the hamlet of Up Cerne with its pleasant lake.

We passed Upcerne Manor, which I have photographed before, but didn't remember the church just off to the left of this early 17th century house. Pevsner says that the church is of 1870, while the Manor has 19th and 20th century renovations.

We soon returned to the main road and passed the viewpoint from which my picture of the Giant was taken. We concluded our walk with an excellent lunch at the New Inn in Cerne Abbas.

Conditions: mild and sunny.

From: 50 walks in Dorset (AA).

Map: Explorer 117 (Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis)

Rating: Four stars.

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