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Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs

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Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs
Author: Claire, Published: 10 Dec 2016 Walk Rating:star1 Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs Walking Guide star1 Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs Walking Guide star1 Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs Walking Guide star1 Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs Walking Guide star1 Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs Walking Guide
Wiltshire, Cranborne Chase
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs
Length: 7 miles,  Difficulty: boot Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs Walking Guide boot Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs Walking Guide boot Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs Walking Guide
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A 7 mile circular walk from the village of Broad Chalke, near Salisbury in Wiltshire. This peaceful journey explores the rolling chalk downs within Cranborne Chase AONB, with plenty of nature and glorious views along the way. The final stretch takes you alongside the River Ebble, a beautiful chalk stream still used for growing watercress.

The walk has several climbs and descents throughout. Whilst some of the tracks are surfaced with stone or tarmac, some of the paths are unmade and can get very muddy or slippery after rain and in the winter months. There are no stiles on route but you will need to negotiate some single gates and two kissing gates. The majority of the route crosses arable land so there is no livestock for most of the way, but you will cross one pasture at the end of the walk, which sometimes holds cattle. The kissing gates and cattle pasture can be avoided by following a stretch of village road instead, if you prefer. There are two short stretches of path that are very narrow (and maybe a bit overgrown in summer) so the route would not be suitable for pushchairs or disability buggies. There are lots of game birds in the area so take care with dogs. Allow 3.5 hours.

Broad Chalke is located about 8 miles west of Salisbury. The walk starts and finishes outside the United Reformed Church chapel on High Road which is home to a thriving community shop and post office, alongside the village pub. There is no specific car park in the village, so please park on the road sides with respect for the residents and shop customers. If you are coming by bus, there is a bus stop directly outside the chapel. Approximate post code SP5 5EP.

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Walk Sections

Start to Chalk Pyt Farm
Start to Chalk Pyt Farm

Start point: 51.0296 lat, -1.945 long
End point: 51.0326 lat, -1.9482 long

The walk begins outside the United Reformed Church chapel, which today houses the community shop and post office. Standing facing the chapel, turn left along the village road (taking care of traffic) and passing the village pub on your right. Follow the road as it bends sharp right (taking extra care on this bend) and continue (joining the right-hand pavement), now heading north through the village.

For such as small settlement, Broad Chalke has been home to a surprising number of famous people including the author Sir Terry Pratchett, former Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden, photographer Sir Cecil Beaton and musician Toyah Willcox.

Where the road swings hard left, go straight ahead onto the dead-end access lane for Chalk Pyt Farm. Follow this access lane ahead, passing Chalk Pyt House on your left and then leading you between the buildings of Chalk Pyt Farm (including The Parlour House on your left and The Old Granary Cottage on your right).

Chalk Pyt Farm to Circular Huts
Chalk Pyt Farm to Circular Huts

Start point: 51.0326 lat, -1.9482 long
End point: 51.0394 lat, -1.9711 long

Immediately after the old stable block on your left, you will see a waymarker post to your left, marking two bridleways. Turn left here (the left-hand of these two bridleway) and follow the track passing the old stone stable block immediately on your left. Pass Dairyman’s Cottage on your right and continue ahead to pass farm outbuildings also on your right.

Beyond the buildings, go ahead under an arch of tall trees and, immediately afterwards, look for a waymarker post on your right. Turn right here to join the narrow bridleway between hedgerows. Simply follow this path ahead, climbing steadily. Further up, as the hedgerows thin out you will have your first views across the surrounding rolling chalk downs.

At the top of the rise you will reach a staggered junction with a wider grass track. Bear right to join this and follow it directly ahead, with open fields each side and great views across the steep valley sides of Knapp Down across to your right.

At the end of this stretch of grass track you will pass two large circular metal huts on your left. These are the hill shelters of Gurston Down Shoot, used by participants and organisers for their mid-morning break. They are constructed from a couple of Victorian round cast iron Mash Tuns, previously used for steeping grain for the brewing process. The conversion includes a large glazed doorway and veranda, giving participants chance to look across the shooting valley in sheltered comfort during their breaks.

Circular Huts to Road Crossing
Circular Huts to Road Crossing

Start point: 51.0394 lat, -1.9711 long
End point: 51.0402 lat, -1.9963 long

Continue a few paces beyond the huts and you will reach a tarmac parking area with several concrete tracks. Take the concrete track at 1 o’clock, signed as the bridleway. Follow this tree-lined vehicle track ahead. 400 metres after the trees end, pass through a metal gate ahead and continue along the woodland track for just a short distance to reach a crossroads (with another metal gate ahead).

Turn left here, following the vehicle track through this woodland belt. This is an ancient byway known as Old Shaftesbury Drove. It would have been used for moving livestock on foot, when taking them between summer and winter pastures or to market. Stay with this track for 1km, passing three poultry farms on your left along the way, and with beautiful views across the Fovant Downs to your right. You will come to a crossroads with a road.

Road Crossing to Fifield Bavant
Road Crossing to Fifield Bavant

Start point: 51.0402 lat, -1.9963 long
End point: 51.0231 lat, -1.9831 long

Cross over with care and go straight ahead along the continuation of the byway. Pass the property called Fovant Hut on your right and the views to your right open up once again. Further along, a section of dense woodland and scrub begins on your left. 80 metres later you will come to a fork in the track, take the left-hand branch, a grass track with woodland scrub each side.

Pass alongside the metal gate ahead and follow the main grass track which bears left to pass the end of an avenue of beech trees on your left. Stay with this grass track which runs diagonally away from the beech tree avenue (which is across to your left).

Follow the grass track for some distance, leading you steadily downhill with open fields each side and far reaching views ahead. This is a perfect area for spotting rare birds including several birds of prey and skylarks. At the end of the track, pass alongside the metal gate to reach a junction with the road at the edge of Fifield Bavant village.

Fifield Bavant to Knapp Hill
Fifield Bavant to Knapp Hill

Start point: 51.0231 lat, -1.9831 long
End point: 51.0254 lat, -1.9578 long

Turn left along the lane, taking care of any traffic and passing the first row of terraced cottages on your left. Just after the road bends left (and before you reach the next set of houses), turn right onto the bridleway track signed to Mead End.

Follow this bridleway as it bears right, crossing a ford (NOTE: If the water level is too high, there is a stone clapper bridge just to your left). Ignore the stile on your left, instead stay with the main tree-lined enclosed bridleway. The path leads you steeply uphill and the trees give way as your journey continues along a fenced narrow path between fields.

Beyond the brow of the rise, the path descends once more to reach a crossroads of grass tracks at the bottom of the slope. Turn left here and follow the grass track with wire fences and open fields each side. At the end of the grass track, keep ahead to merge with a stone vehicle track, passing some pretty cottages on your left.

With the white-washed property called The Cottage ahead, ignore the footpath signed sharp left, instead bear right to join the tarmac access lane leading you past more properties. Further along, beyond the houses, the lane leads you past several rectangular watercress beds within the River Ebble down to your left. Follow the tarmac lane, passing Slate House on your right and the watercress beds on your left. At the end of the lane you will meet a T-junction with Knapp Hill, with thatched cottages ahead.

Knapp Hill to End
Knapp Hill to End

Start point: 51.0254 lat, -1.9578 long
End point: 51.0297 lat, -1.945 long

Turn left along the road, passing between sections of watercress beds. Stay with the road as it climbs steeply and then, just before a wall begins on your right, turn right onto the signed public footpath. Pass through the small wooden gate to enter the grounds of Knapp Farmhouse. Keep straight ahead on the vehicle track and where this peters out (alongside a large sycamore tree on your right), bear slightly right to follow the grass path between large bushes.

Pass through another small wooden gate ahead and follow the grass track passing a stone property on your right. Keep ahead to merge with the tarmac access track. Just after passing the property Burrswood, you will reach a fork. At this point you have two choices. The main route crosses a pasture that may be holding cattle; if you would prefer to avoid this fork left and then turn right along the road (taking care of traffic). The road will lead you back into the centre of Broad Chalke.

For the main route, fork right, a stone footpath with a fence running on your right. Pass through the kissing gate ahead to enter the pasture and go straight on, following the right-hand boundary. You will see the River Ebble running down to your right. Stay with the obvious path ahead, passing the back of a row of properties on your left and then leaving the pasture via a kissing gate.

Keep ahead on the enclosed path. Ignore the path branch signed off to the right, instead keep straight ahead. Follow the path meandering between properties on your left and allotments on your right. At the end of the path, keep ahead to merge with the access drive, passing between more properties. You will come to a T-junction with the road in Broad Chalke. Turn right along this and follow it as it swings left to reach the chapel where the walk began.

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network Broad Chalke and Fifield Downs Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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