West Chinnock Walk
Wednesday 25th September – West Chinnock
Walk Leaders: Nick & Jenny
This is a repeat of a 5.5 mile walk I led five and a half years ago but going in the reverse direction - it makes the hills a bit easier.
We start from the Muddled Man pub at West Chinnock (OS 129, GR 468136, TA18 7PT). The pub has no car park, there is space to park along Lower Street nearby, please car share as much as possible. Facilities available in pub before start. Order your lunch at the pub before starting, the menu is available on line (Google “The Muddled Man“) and it would be a good idea to know what you want before you get there. The walk starts at 1000 and, because of the number of assorted types of stiles and gates (9 & 15 respectively) I am limiting it to 18 walkers; there are also a number of hills.
Roads to West Chinnock are narrow with high banks; the best approach is the A356 turn-off from the A303 (signposted Crewkerne) and take the 3rd left, signposted Chiselborough and West Chinnock.
The first part is flat, mostly over fields, through Middle Chinnock and heading towards East Chinnock. We skirt around East Chinnock by heading up a concrete track to Weston Farm and then footpaths and track (rather uneven under foot and could be muddy if wet) on a long, gentle climb to the Stump Stone. A short distance along Street Lane and turn off across a field. The next stretch requires care; in the time since we last walked it, trees and undergrowth have grown appreciably and the footing is very irregular but this is not a very long stretch. Coming out the other side (over a stile) there is a long and steep grass downhill (could be slippery if wet) to Bagnell Farm. A hard surface track leads us to a steep grass uphill (could also be slippery). At the top we come onto a lane which is a long downhill to Chiselborough. We walk through the village and up the lane to Balham Hill where we turn off through fields downhill to West Chinnock and lunch. Pleasant and varied, some views - and no maize fields!
We met at the Mangled Man pub ready to go but for some slightly tardy arrivers! The weather was uncertain so there was quite an array of apparel!
Lunches duly ordered we set off. The start of the walk rather lulled us into a false sense of security by being flat for a long stretch but not without interest! We were warned to keep to the left of an airstrip that was mown but, we hoped, not often used. Across the airstrip and up a hill Nick told us there was a pool fed by the saltiest spring in England.apparently 40lbs of water gives 1lb of salt that was used by the local area for centuries.
So on along a valley to our first climb. We headed gently up on a concrete farm track then changing to a rough, damp sunken lane under trees. At about the hour mark we reached our break stop..one of the best ever for the walking group with two benches and a picnic table coupled with a fine view! Those of us wearing waterproof trousers could sit in comfort not having to worry about wet garments!
After a few minutes it was back onto the track leaving the view for the trees again. Reaching the summit, we headed across a field with great views and then, crossing a stile, into a forbidding area requiring careful watching of the placement of feet - because of the ground conditions - and between two high mesh fences with barbed wire but no guard posts or machine guns. The reason for the security was a grassed over landfill site where methane gas is collected.
Onward, now down a slippery grassy slope. Towards the bottom of the slope some very noisy cows that were clearly being subjected to some check that they did not like at all!
Then the hard bit! A steep climb up a grassy slope that certainly gave the heart some exercise. The views to our rear when stopped to catch breath were wonderful. Nick warned the pub who actually sent a car out to pick up Jenny who had found the last climb very taxing. So we returned to our start point along the sunken roads, The Muddled Man pub. A good, honest pub with a very friendly welcome. In spite of the weather forecast we had hardly a drop of rain! A very good walk! Thank you, Nick!
Report by John C