Both Beer Hackett and Thornford, which we visit on this triangular walk route, are replete with attractive thatched stone cottages, impressive farmhouses and grand manor houses. However, we start and end with a brief stroll through the larger, and equally architecturally blessed, village of Yetminster. Much of this fine excursion follows footpaths through lush green fields which share wonderful vistas of neighbouring farms, wooded hills, and the church towers of these villages. We also come across some unusually wide paths, with banks either side, in this delightful part of the Blackmore Vale - remnants of Dorset’s medieval road system.

Great British Life: Starting point The White Hart at Yetminster. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Starting point The White Hart at Yetminster. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

The Walk

1. From the White Hart, go east past left ivy-clad Manor House, rows of stone cottages and 1607 Oak House (formerly the village shop). Past right Church Street with Cross Farmhouse on the corner, continue down and take left Chapel Lane. Pass left Bower Court and Chapel Meadows with the old chapel right. Past left Lower Covey house, turn left at Lower Farm Cottage with garage workshops facing you. Cross the yard into the hedged track. Past the right barn, go through facing 1½ gates into the cluttered field corner. Cross straight into the fenced track which turns right/left then follows the River Wriggle in the right trees. When the track swings left towards the left fence’s end, fork right to the nearby footpath-sleeper and stile. Over, follow the meandering path close to the river to the right footpath-bridge. Over this and the footpath-stile, cross the railway line.

Great British Life: St Michael's Church, Beer Hackett. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)St Michael's Church, Beer Hackett. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

2. Go over the opposite footpath-stile into the field corner. Follow the right hedge round and up past two cattle troughs and twin-gates to the half-gated footbridge into a small field. Continue to the half-gate into St Michael’s Church, Beer Hackett churchyard. Leave through the footpath-signposted north gate into the road. Turn right between stone cottages and, at the end of Church Farm house, take the left signposted ‘Thornford ¾’ footpath. Through the facing half-gate, follow the woodland path straight down to the footpath-stile. Over into the wide field, go straight across to the facing hedge’s sleeper/stile. Over, with wooded Knighton Hill to your right, cross the field to the nearest hedge’s left end. Past this, or over a stile if it’s mended, walk ¼-right across this next field to the hedge’s twin-stiled footpath sleeper-bridge, well left of the twin stanchion.

Great British Life: The long 'medieval' lane from Thornford. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)The long 'medieval' lane from Thornford. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

3. Over into the field, turn ¼-right, under overhead cables, to the hedge/fence’s twin footpath sleeper-bridge, left of the cattle trough. Over into the next wide field, ignore the left-fork path but walk slightly right to the twin-stiled footpath sleeper-bridge. Over into the next field, go ¼-right to the fence/hedge’s stile under a huge oak. Over, turn left onto the ancient track (ignore the kissing-gate opposite). Over the stream bridge (old ford), continue along the path under trees, between left stream and right field, to the T-junction, backwards bridleway signposted. Turn right under trees, bending left then joining Horsepool Lane, the medieval road between Knighton and Bradford Abbas. Continue to Longford Road, Thornford. Past right Old Chapel and Wingfield Cottage, left thatched cottages and Post Office, reach Queen Victoria’s 60th Jubilee Clock with the Kings Arms behind.

Great British Life: Medieval Horsepool Lane bridleway into Thornford. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Medieval Horsepool Lane bridleway into Thornford. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

Great British Life:  Queen Victoria's Jubilee clock and Kings Arms, Thornford. (Photo: Edward Griffiths) Queen Victoria's Jubilee clock and Kings Arms, Thornford. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

4. Turn left. Stroll along Church Road where thatched cottages abound. Go left, after left Old School House, to visit St Mary Magdalene’s Church. Afterwards, walk back along Church Road. Into Longford Road, go right. Take the right footpath-signposted path between the Post Office and The New House, fenced at first, then enclosed between fields, down a bank, past a footpath-arrow post, bending right/left, still enclosed between fields, to a sleeper-bridge into a U-bending grass track. Take the left fork and pass a left kissing-gate. Keep straight on along the hedged, clearly medieval road track, for ¾ mile, under overhead cables at about ½ mile where a right opening reveals the level terrain. When the ‘road’ ends suddenly at right and left gates, continue into ‘Lower Coulter Lane’, the winding strip-woodland path with banks both sides.

Great British Life: The River Yeo tributary bridge. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)The River Yeo tributary bridge. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

5. Emerging over a stile onto the road, turn right. Hurry to the River Yeo tributary bridge with stone arch and parapets. Over, continue around the right curve and, when ‘Clifton Maybank’ village sign appears ahead, take the left-hairpin driveway’s footpath-gate. Keep straight on, under railway bridge E30/146 and continue along this wide hedged medieval road between Bradford Abbas and Ryme Intrinseca. When the drive turns left towards Trill Farm, go through the facing footpath-gate into the wide-hedged but verdant narrow-path (which does improve after a few yards). Keep following the medieval road path straight on between banks until you reach a three-way footpath-arrowed crossing with gates either side. Go left. Through the gate into the field, turn half-right (SSE) aiming for the one clear footpath-gate in the facing hedge with distant Yetminster St Andrew’s Church forward-left.

6. Through, turn half-left (ESE) across the field to the hedge’s footpath-stile/bridge. Over, the footbridge, ignore its footpath-arrow. Instead, turn half-right and go through the wide gap into the next field (around the right facing hedge’s left end) to the next facing hedge’s footpath-stiles with ditch between. Over, turn ¼-right through temporary paddock electric-fences, aiming right of the distant house at first. But, before the eventing field in front of the house, go over the facing hedge’s footpath-stile. Into the enclosed path along the field’s left edge, pass a left footpath-stile and continue round a shady corner’s bends past a farm-gate, still enclosed to meet a hedged T-track. Go left. Meeting Coles Lane, part of the medieval road between Clifton Maybank and Yetminster, go left again with houses either side. Past right, Clovermead, turn right along Thornford Road’s pavement. Past left Stonyacres, continue up the road, switching pavements. Reaching High Street, between left thatched Lilac Cottage and Spar mini-market. Turn left. Pass Robert Boyle’s school left (remembering Boyle’s Law: The volume of a gas varies inversely with the pressure), continue back to White Hart Inn where you started.

Great British Life: Robert Boyle's School, High Street, Yetminster. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Robert Boyle's School, High Street, Yetminster. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

Compass Points

Distance: 5 miles/8 km

Time: 3 hours

Exertion: Easy. Fairly level

Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194

Start: White Hart Inn, High Street, Yetminster. Park thoughtfully nearby. (Grid Ref ST594108)

Public Transport: None suitable

Dogs: Several dairy farms, so on leads where there is livestock, abide by The Countryside Code.

Refreshments: White Hart Inn, Yetminster or Kings Arms, Thornford