Enjoy panoramic views over Beaminster town on this breathtaking spring walk

Medieval roads or, more realistically, trackways and paths suitable only for horse traffic and travelers on foot, criss-crossed Dorset.

This varied walk follows a good stretch of the Medieval Northern trackway along the ridge between the River Axe to the north and Beaminster to the south, the latter part being in much the same condition as it was in Medieval times and affording expansive panoramic bird’s-eye views over Beaminster town.

This trackway arrived here directly from Evershot in the east, by the Hoar Stones on the Maiden Newton to Crewkerne road and continued over Beaminster Down and along the ridge to Buckham Down and Horn Hill.

Here, before the tunnel was made for the arrival of mail coaches, it crossed the Beaminster to Crewkerne road and continued west as Common Water Lane which is this walk’s half-mile stretch of the medieval road over Horn Hill and above the tunnel.

Our route to the ridge involves an ascent along lanes, over farmland and through woods from 210ft above sea level in Beaminster Square to the highest point at 700ft just after Horn Hill.

About half-way up from Beaminster to the ridgeway, countless springs of gin clear water tumble into pebble-bottomed rivulets which murmur downhill, alone or together, into Beaminster where they congregate to become the River Brit.

The Walk

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Beaminster's market place the start and end of the walk. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Beaminster's market place the start and end of the walk. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

1. From the Market Place, cross into Fleet Street and walk past, right Yarn Barton Car Park entrance. Through an array of various cottage styles, pass the left Wesleyan Chapel and right stone-mullioned Barton End built 1730-40. Continue past more old cottages, then new houses at Newtown right, signed for ‘Shortmoor and Catholic Church’. The right entrained stream is one of the spring-sourced streams arriving from Buckham Down into Beaminster. Continue along Newtown’s hedged road passing Beaminster School left, houses right and the stream again on your right. Fork left into Chantry Lane. Past a left bridleway-signed track, continue up Chantry Lane. After houses either side, the lane becomes hedged, narrow and rising on old Tarmac.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Chantry Farm below Buckham Down. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Chantry Farm below Buckham Down. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

2. Reaching Chantry Farm, turn left opposite the second right cottage, ‘Old Cheesehouse’, signed ‘Footpath Avoiding Farm Hazards’ on the barn door. Follow footpath arrows, wooden and official, into the fenced path passing the right barn. Through a small copse and up into the rising field with another wooden arrow, walk straight up the field’s green track. With a narrow wood right, go through the facing hedge’s un-arrowed gate into the marsh-grass field. Cross diagonally right to the un-signed track-gap into the trees. Bend right and, over the stream crossing the track, bend left. Follow the grass track up into the marshy field, swinging right to a small footpath-arrow post.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Fork left onto Common Water Lane. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Fork left onto Common Water Lane. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

3. Take the left fork path up to the hedge-corner bridleway half-gate. Through, follow the right hedge up the field, with barns up ahead-left, to the right corner footpath and bridleway-gate. Through, go instantly left steeply up Buckham Down against the left hedge. Pass a left gate. At the second left gate, with Buckham Down Farm’s track behind, bear right to the fence’s bridleway and footpath-gate. Through into the high field, bear half-left up to the hedge-corner gate. Go through with North Buckham Farm drive and three-way signpost opposite, signed back ‘Bridleway Beaminster 1’. This ridge-top road is the medieval trackway, now clearly updated. Turn left along the verged road with magnificent panoramic views south to the coast, north into Axe valley and Somerset, and ahead to Lewesdon Hill and Pilsdon Pen. Continue for half-mile, passing a left footpath-signed gate halfway. Beginning a descent into trees, fork left in 100 yards, signed ‘Monarch’s Way’, into the track.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Foxholes Plantation bluebell wood. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Foxholes Plantation bluebell wood. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

4. This is Common Water Lane showing how the ancient road would have been with banks and trees lining both sides to prevent cattle from wandering off. In about ¼ mile, the trackway goes over Horn Hill Tunnel on the A3066, but it’s so far below you it can’t be seen. Then the track starts rising again, with some remaining cobbles centrally. Past the top left gate, start descending, sunken and swinging left on heavier stones, then swinging right. At the right gate, turn left at the bridleway-sign, as ‘Monarch’s Way’ continues down the track. Over the bank into trees, follow the path down through Foxholes Plantation bluebell wood. Passing a right gate, stay on the arrowed-footpath inside the wood’s edge. Reaching a two-way footpath/bridleway arrow post with a right stile, keep straight on over a bank and past the left corrugated barn. Continue along the path to 1½ bridleway-gates. Through, follow the left wood down the steep field on the clearly used path. Cross a footpath coming from the left wood’s gate and continue down into the bottom left corner.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Hogshill Street. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Hogshill Street. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

5. Go through the un-arrowed half-gate onto the wood strip’s path which becomes wider at a right gate. Continue down inside the left edge of the wood to a facing gate. Don’t go through! Turn left at the bridleway-post onto the path continuing down another wood strip, becoming both path and streambed, to a 3-way bridleway post. Turn right on the path/streambed outside the wood’s edge with right field. After right barns/stables, cross a stream and join the track. Keep straight on between barns on concrete track, hedged passing the housing estate. Swing left into Ridgeway View with left trading units. At the T-junction, go right along St James to the B3163 Broadwindsor road. Turn left. Pass right ‘Stoke Abbott ½’ road and left St Mary’s Gardens. After the left Fire Station, descend to the A3066 roundabout. Continue along the road for ‘Town Centre’. Keep straight on, passing several old cottages and left stone-pillared Hamilton Lodge. See St Mary’s church’s magnificent tower down right Shadrack Street. Past left White Hart, the old mail-coach inn in Hogshill Street, continue into Market Place where you started.

Compass Points

Distance: 4 miles/6.5 km

Time: 4 hours

Exertion: Initially strenuous with 490ft ascent

Start: Beaminster Market Place (Grid Ref: ST481013) Park in Yarn Barton car park, Fleet Street

Map: OS Landranger Sheet 193

Public Transport: First Wessex 6 Yeovil to Bridport

Dogs: On roads, and where there is livestock, abide by the Countryside Code

Refreshments: Wide variety of options in Beaminster ranging from pubs and cafés to restaurants and hotels