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THE MENDIP RING - Leg 4a
Deerwood Common to East Woodlands Church. 5 miles or 6.5
Starting from Grid Ref ST 771 389
With your back to the car park, follow the main track near the top of the woods until you reach the road on your right. Turn left, then when the road forks take the right hand fork towards the church that is now a house. Follow this round until you come to a metalled lane on your left next to Churchfield House. Turn here, then just after Yew Tree Cottage take the grassy track on your left through a small gate into a field; aim for the bottom left hand corner where you go onto the road through a metal kissing gate.
Follow the road for approx. half a mile until you come to a bridleway on your right; turn here then shortly turn left. Follow the line of the bridleway along the left hand field edge, bearing left along the farm track after the second bridle gate, until you emerge onto Bunn's Lane. Turn right and follow the lane to reach the B3092
Cross with care into the lane opposite*. Follow the lane past Brambles Farm and the woods on your left; when you meet the woods on your right take the first turning on the left. Follow this track ignoring all others until you come to a metal barrier after which you turn left to reach East Woodlands Church.
*This is a permissive path through the grounds of Longleat and could be closed at any time. Beneath you will find an alternative route.
From emerging onto Bunn's Lane still turn right then after approx 200m go through a kissing gate on your left, follow the field edge and go over a stile and via a wood to cross the railway line with kissing gates on each side. Go down a track to reach a metalled lane, keep straight on to reach a T junction, turn right along Tuckmarsh Lane to the next T junction, turn right again going under the railway bridge to reach the busy B3092.
Turn right and cross the road with care to take the first stile on your left. Follow the path via a second stile across the garden and go over a bridge into a field. Immediately turn right and follow the hedge on your right through a field gate. Turn left for a few paces, then over the stile in the right-hand fence into a larger field. Cross this field half-left to a stile in the top left corner. Over this and aim for the woods at the top of the hill. Follow the path through three fields, via two stiles and a wooden kissing gate, up through the woods to cross a stile at the side of East Woodlands Church at ST 789 441.
Points of Historical Interest
Bradley Lane, on the right, is on the course of a Roman road. It passes across the approach road to the hamlet of Gaer Hill just before the edge of the church grounds. This road from Old Sarum (Salisbury) continues across the Mendips, through the lead mines (Leg 7a) and on towards Sea Mills, the Roman port near Bristol.
Gaer is from the Old English word gara, a triangular piece of land.
St Michael's Church was built in 1858 by the Revd and Hon Richard Cavendish Boyle, Vicar of Marston and youngest son of the 8th Earl of Cork and Orrery. The church seated 150, the community being a thriving one with its own school. In 1981, owing to a dwindling congregation, it was declared redundant and is now a private home. The Rev. Boyle built several houses at Gaer Hill replacing the old hovels with spacious and comfortable cottages
A step aside moment
There is a public path round the back of the church and this short detour is rewarded by a stunning view. The old oak trees in the field below are a reminder that one thousand or even five hundred years ago, this entire vista would have been forest. Immediately to the north was Marston Forest and Tadbeson Wood was so called in a grant of lands between the Earl of Cork and the Duke of Somerset in 1667. To the right is the town of Frome, of which more later.
The old school is in the lane down from the church.
West and East Forest farms are another reminder that this area was within a forest until comparatively recently.
Bunns Lane, named for an 18th century Frome philanthropist, was formerly called Middle Riding. The fields on the left at the junction with the B3092 are the site of the annual Frome Cheese Show.
Crossing the B3092, which was turnpiked by the Frome Trust in 1772, the walk is now on the lands of the Marquis of Bath (Thynne). The small bridge here is 18th century and Grade II Listed. Brambles Farmhouse is early 17th century and also Grade II Listed. The woodlands were called Brambles Forest on the Day and Masters map of 1782 and the walk follows the coppicing tracks through the sections. There was a WWII anti tank ditch, part of the Salisbury South West stop line, between ST 777 445 and ST 793 430. At the top of the hill at a 'T' junction with a track edging open fields the curve of the woodlands to the right is marked by a prominent bank. This was the edge of the Royal Forest at this point.
Possible alternative route
Beyond Smythwick’s Bridge, on the right at ST 767 438 is the Scheduled site of Marston Moat. It is the slightly raised area covered in trees. It was the home of the notable Bigot family, hence Marston Bigot, from before 1195 into the reign of Edward II. On Tuckmarsh Lane at Lower Marston, look for Eleanor’s Fountain on the left beside the old School House. On the left at the junction with Bulls Quarry Road is the site of the deserted medieval village of Marston. The B3092 was turnpiked by the Frome Trust in 1772. The walk is now on the lands of the Marquis of Bath (Thynne). West Woodlands is yet another reminder of Selwood Forest. On the right is a Methodist chapel, now a private home.
At ST 775 441 a site called Lambert's Lodge was recorded in 1610.
Emerging by the church, the track to the right, which curves alongside the woodland, was the edge of the Royal Forest at this point.
St Katherine's church was consecrated in 1714. The Yew Tree by the gate is
classed as Ancient and Venerable in the Tree Register of the British Isles. The
village hall on the right was once the school. The church and the hall are
supported by Trust Funds set up by the Thynne family.