In this week's blog local walker, Laurence Eastham, details a lovely walk to Maud Heath and back, outlining some of the beautiful sights that can be seen along the way.

This walk starts from the Dumb Post Inn at Bremhill and is around 4 miles long. The furthest point is the monument to Maud Heath beyond Bremhill and the ideal timing aims for a picnic beneath the monument. There is some road walking and some footpaths can be muddy. Dog walkers and others may wish to note that some of the walk passes through fields where you may encounter cows.

1. The walk begins and ends at the Dumb Post Inn. Parking at and opposite the pub is for patrons only but a friendly landlord will turn a blind eye to walkers while welcoming those who patronise this excellent Inn. It’s not only good manners to combine the walk with a visit to the Inn but you’ll get good beer and good food too! The inn is probably (in part) 300 years old and was once the base for an impressive friendly society for agricultural workers. The dumbness is said to arise from the fact that there was originally just a post for a sign to the hamlet with no name on it; alternative explanations tend to cause offence to local residents. To make life easier for those wanting to avoid steep slopes, you could end the walk by persuading one of your party to walk back up the hill to the Dumb Post to get the car while waiting at Hazeland Sluice.

2. Directly opposite the front of the inn is a bridleway sign. Take that route and squeeze through a gate following a ridge on the left of the field with fine views to Cherhill etc to your right. Go through two kissing gates with fine gardens to your left and, just after a tennis court to your right, another gate that leads to St Martins, the 12th century church at Bremhill. The poet William Lisle Bowles was vicar there from 1804; he was genuinely famous at one time. His 14 Sonnets are said to have inspired Coleridge. He is responsible for the poem on Maud Heath’s statue.

3. Walk through the churchyard on its left side and leave by the gate onto the road. Turn sharp left on the road until reaching Manor Farm where there is a footpath sign to the right. Take that path to a very insecure stile and follow the main path (slightly right) downhill, over a stream and then up to a wooden gate.

4. After the gate, the path swings left with a small orchard to your right. Follow the path through a stile until reaching a wide hardcore drive, which is part of Bremhill Equestrian, leading to the road at Monument Farm.

5. Cross to the road signposted to East Tytherton, past the farm buildings on the right until you see a gate to the right that leads to Maud Heath’s monument, which is clearly visible on the ridge. The gate to the monument is heavy and difficult to open and close.

6. Proceed to the monument and rest on the bench, taking in the views and the pretty much indecipherable inscriptions. One is as follows: 'Thou who dost pause on this aerial height/ Where Maud Heath's Pathway winds in shade and light/ Christian wayfarer in a world of strife/ Be still and consider the Path of Life’; it’s not a bad piece of advice. In 1474, Maud Heath, a widow from Tytherton Kellaways, left land and property for the creation and maintenance of the causeway ‘from Wick Hill to Chippenham Clift’ to allow a dry passage to market – an extraordinary act by any standard, but especially for a woman of that time.

7. Now retrace your steps to the road, back through the awkward gate and across the road to the plaque celebrating the start of the causeway – this is Wick Hill. Go through that gate and begin the Wiltshire ramblers’ sport of spot the cow pat – the aim being to avoid them. Follow the path with the ridge edge to your right through four further gates. You might spot the Maud Heath Vineyard that runs beneath the ridge. After almost a mile, you will see Bencroft Farm on your left with the Derry Hill church spire beyond. Shortly thereafter the path enters a plantation and curves left to a gate back to the road. 

8. Turn left on passing through the gate, going slightly uphill. A sign tells you that the footpath is 400 metres away – it always seems to be a very long 400 metres. Look for a footpath sign pointing into the woods to your right and take that path. After 50 metres, ignore the misleading sign that tempts you to fork right and carry on down the hill through a gate. Part of this wood is used by an archery club and a sign requires you to leave your bow before going further down the hill. If you haven’t brought a bow, you can continue nonetheless.

9. At the bottom of the hill, go through the gate into open fields, usually full of sheep and carry on south west to the road. The gate is to the left of the bunglaow. Turn left up the steep hill to return to the Dumb Post. Non-climbers accompanied by a compliant driver can walk down the hill, past Hazeland Mill, to Hazeland Sluice over the River Marden and wait for the driver to get the car and return to pick them up.

By Laurence Eastham




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