THE WALK TO EAST CHINNOCK

4 miles / 7 kilometres

This walk has many spectacular views of South Somerset and Dorset. There are also 2 churches and a National Nature Reserve that can be visited on route. There is a steep ascent to Coker Ridge and gentle slopes. There are 10 stiles. (This route can become very wet in places during winter and wellington boots are recommended). Map of walk

START: St. Mary's Church,
Hardington Mandeville.
GRID REF: ST 513119
  1. From St Mary's Church, turn towards Yeovil, continue on this road past a lane on the left and turn left through the second gateway at the Hardington Moor signpost. Aim for the middle of the right hand hedge and go over the stile, maintaining same bearing to the next stile. Follow the path at side of garden to a bridge over Chinnock Brook. Cross the garden of Weavers Cottage: - yes, through the garden - the last weaver to live here was John Hallet, sailcloth weaver, who died in 1867 aged 87. His family had been tenants since at least 1720. The Portman estate sold it in 1920 for 135! Go over the stone stile, to the left of the main gate, into Moor Lane and turn left. At the end of the surfaced road note the old stone toilet perches over the brook (no plumbing!) next to a large willow tree. Follow the brook through the gates - after the second gate there is a modern dovecote visible on the house to the left - to the junction. Look at the hamstone sluice, once used as a "sheep dip", on the upstream side of the new bridge.
  2. Turn right along the lane (Coker Hill Lane) until, after a bend, you see the gateway into the National Nature Reserve (after a rest on the bench if needed!) This is Hardington Moor Nature Reserve and is managed for wildlife by English Nature using a local grazier: it is characteristic of pre-war Somerset. The rich hay meadows are abundant with wildflowers and butterflies in the spring and summer. The reserve consists of 3 fields; go through the kissing gate and follow the left hedge all the way up the slope, through the 3 fields to a stone stile to Ridge Lane.
  3. Turn left into Ridge Lane and follow it to a T-junction with a lane (Coker Hill). The views here on a good day are spectacular, from the transmitting station at Rampisham, through Beaminster Down & Winyards Gap to Crewkerne and Windwhistle.
  4. Turn left down Coker Hill, past the pretty hamstone and thatch cottage to the gateway on your right, signposted East Chinnock, just before the Hardington Mandeville village sign. Go through the gate and across the field to the top right corner, over the waymarked stile. Bear left and then cross the field, under the telegraph wires to a gate in the middle of the hedge. Pass through the gate and, keeping the hedge on your right, proceed to the next gate. Follow the waymarked direction across the next field towards the church to find the bridge and stile into an enclosed track. Follow this track until it joins a more open lane and turn left, signposted Broad Hill. A diversion here to St Mary's Church in East Chinnock is worthwhile to see the unique windows given by the late POW Gunther Anton as a token of the friendliness shown to him by the villagers during the war. There is a post office in East Chinnock where you can replenish snack and drink supplies.
  5. Go through the metal gate ahead and across the next 2 fields to a concrete bridge over the brook. For those with time, a pause here for bird watching may be worthwhile: kingfishers and buzzards can often be seen. Keep heading south over 2 fields with the hedge on your right. Follow the hedge into the third field and head straight on through a gateway into an enclosed track (Holten's Lane). Follow this track to the road and turn left.
  6. At the cross roads turn right; after about 100m turn left onto a surfaced track. After the second (white) house bear left and follow a footpath between a copse and a ditch. Go over the stile and walk along the top of the next field and through the gate at Townsend Farm onto Coldharbour Lane. Views to the south are superb, with Pen Wood opposite (restricted access now allowed, contact SSDC Countryside staff for details).
  7. Turn left up the farm drive to a road (Penn Lane) and follow the path opposite on the right hand side of the buildings. Pass next to the farm buildings and over the next 2 fields. If you use the telegraph post in the second field as a bearing you will find the stile and steps down to a lane.
  8. Turn right, then left after the stone cottages signposted St. Mary's Church and walk along the enclosed path to the tarmac lane. On your right are the new vernacular thatched cottages. Turn left here and at the bottom of the hill turn right up some steps to a gate onto a path that leads to a small field with a narrow pinch gate into the churchyard on the opposite side. Apart from the tower this church burnt down in the 19th century and was rebuilt. Have a rest on the bench by the tower and admire the view - a good portion of your walk can be seen.
Walk produced by South Somerset District Council working with local volunteers & Hardington Mandeville Parish Council. This walk uses public rights of way. Please respect the countryside: cause no damage to crops, livestock, property or wildlife and keep dogs under close control. During your walk you may wish to stop for refreshments at one of the local shops, inns or restaurants. These include; The Royal Oak & Hardington Post Office at Hardington Moor, or The Portman Arms, East Chinnock Old Post Office, Bridge Farm Shop & Cott Farm Shop in East Chinnock.
Published by SSDC, June 2002. For further information please contact Area South Countryside staff on 01935 462462.
Map reproduced from the Ordnance Survey 1:10560 County Series 2nd edition (c.1900) Sheet 88.