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THE MENDIP RING - Leg 4b
East Woodlands Church to Limerick Farm. 7 miles
Starting from Grid Ref ST 789 441
Walk down the hill from the church, past the village hall and go straight across at the cross roads and continue up Shepherds Lane. Go past the woods and take the path on your right. At the footbridge, just before the ford, take the permissive path on your left to High House Farm. Follow the stream to Mill Lane, turn right cross the ford. Bear left at the top of the lane and continue to Lane End and cross the main road.
Follow the sign to Corsley and after about 200 yards take the path on the left just before Court Lane. Follow the path over two stiles and left to the field & pedestrian gate to the main road, Lane End Hill. Be careful here as it is a 60 mph road. Turn right and take the next track on your right, marked Frith Farm on Joles Lane.
Walk to the stile by the cattle grid and bear right 45 degrees to group of trees at the end of the field on a level with the house. Go through the kissing gate and across the field to the next kissing gate. Keep next to the hedge; walk to the fence and follow the sign right along the fence. Go left through the wood kissing gate at the bottom and then straight ahead across two bridges via a wood kissing gate and stiles.
From the bridge walk straight up the field to the very top, through the field gate with stile into a narrow field.
At the end of the wood on your right aim left to pass through a field gate with stile, cross the field to the stile on the opposite side. Once over this, bear right to the hedge end at the top of the field, follow this round to the right and aim for the last top right hand corner where you will find a farm track. Follow this past the farmhouse and out to the road, the busy A3098.
Turn right and walk up the road for approx 200m to a footpath on the left leading to The Pheasantry. On reaching the house, bear left and continue down through the woods passing a tree with a swing (no charge for having a go on the swing). Left at the paths crossing just below.
Exit over a stile on the left. If you come to Private sign then you have gone too far. Turn right to cross a field to another stile into Ridge Copse. Go through this wood and exit via a stile into a field. Cross to a kissing gate onto Berkley Street.
Turn right for a few yards and cross the road to take the path opposite. Follow the path to Rooks Lane. Turn right to Berkley Marsh and at the junction turn left down Berkley Lane. Go over the railway bridge and turn right into Dark Lane. This is often used as a rubbish dump so take care where you walk. At the end of the lane turn left into Pot Lane.
The path is in the corner of the field on the right.(It can be very wet here.) Follow the path along the hedge line, then along the concrete track up to a gate below the barn. Do not go through the gate but continue along below the hedge line in the field. Over two stiles, and through a wooden kissing gate onto the lane and a short way along is Limerick Farm. If this path is not open then walk down Pot Lane and take the next turning on the right and walk down the lane to Limerick Farm at ST 810 510.
Points of Historical Interest
The east-west route at the cross roads was turnpiked by the Frome Trust in 1772. The toll house is over the hill to the west on what was once a ford, beside the Horse and Groom public house.
At the top of Coles Hill the stile on the left is a reminder of an old road that followed a direct route between Shepherds Lane and the ford at East Woodlands.
On the right is Hales Castle believed to be an Anglo-Saxon ring motte with an associated field system. Rising behind it is the large Iron Age hill fort of Roddenbury. In 1631 'Rattenbury' and its coppices were said to cover 400 acres. The name Rodden continues in Rodden Manor and the Rodden stream later in this Leg of the walk.
The Iron Age is generally regarded as being from about 800BC to the arrival of the Romans in 43.
On passing the woods, Cley Hill (see Leg 3b) is emerging on your right.
At Redford Water, called Latchborne in 1663, the walk coincides again briefly with the Huntersway
(see Leg 3a).
There is a tradition of a mill near Mill Lane, but no named site has been recorded. There is a small packhorse bridge beside the ford.
At the top of Lanes End Hill is the A362, the Frome to Warminster Road. At Doomsday this area was in the Manor of Warminster and within Selwood Forest. Today it is part of the Longleat Estate. Lane End is a group of cottages built from the common land of Corsley Heath, sometime after the 16th century. The crossroads are the dividing line between Somerset and Wiltshire. The road was turnpiked to here, at the Shire Stone Gate, by the Frome Trust between 1756 and 1772. The Stone itself is noted on the 1782 Day and Masters map. The White Hart is shown on the Andrews and Drury map of 1887. On the side wall of the pub there is an Edward VII post box.
Frome is now well in view. This is the largest and the most easterly of the five towns in Mendip. Initially a junction of trackways on a ford, St Aldhelm founded a monastery and the church of St John here in about 685 and Frome was a Royal Manor and a market town before the Norman Conquest. For many generations wool was the staple economy. The Duke of Monmouth and his troops stayed in here on the 28th and 29th June 1685. Recently Frome has developed as a centre for Arts and Crafts. Many professional craftspeople have workshops in the town with specialities from designer jewellery to musical instruments. Frome has a Tourist Information Office and a Museum.
The stream behind Frith House, previously Freeze House, is the Rodden Brook, which rises in Cley Hill and travels east to west into the River Frome. It shares its name with the ancient manor of Rodden a mile to the west.
The A3098 between Frome and Westbury was turnpiked by the Frome Trust between 1756 and 1772. The antiquarian, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, referred to it in 1812 as the 'great road leading to Frome'.
The Pheasantry on Lodge Hill has recently been sensitively restored. It is dated 1581 with a second floor extension dated 1783. The window catches are in the shape of a clenched fist; a feature of all the buildings on the Berkley estate. It is said to have been used as a Quaker Meeting House.
N.B.This Berkley derives its name from the OE berchelie meaning birch trees and has no connection with the Berkeley family mentioned in an earlier Leg of the walk.
Woodman's Hill, with its feel of an ancient trackway through the woods, was Wdemanneshulle before 1212.
At Berkley Street there are long-standing traditions of ghosts being seen on the road. Berkley Lodge, to the right, is the mid 18th century entrance to Berkley House.
An earlier settlement at Berkley is recorded in the Doomsday Book at Pot Lane (see below). It was a part of the estates of the Earl of Arundel (Leg 3a). This early village was closely associated with another hamlet called Fairoak or Fayroke and a chapel there was dedicated by the Bishop of Bath before 1153. Fairoak Farm, on the junction of Rook Lane and Kemp's Lane in Berkley Marsh, now represents this settlement and aerial photographs show vague earthworks around the farm. The farmhouse itself is probably 16th century. The window catches here are also in the shape of a clenched fist.
The railway bridge on Marsh Lane is over the Great Western main line between Westbury and the South West.
Pot Lane is believed to be the site of the original Berkley village, the word Pottle meaning a street of houses. The remains of a pond, still visible in wet conditions, were adjacent to the church. On the clay belt and in an area described even in the 18th century as 'the Fen', this cannot have been an ideal place for settlement and like East Lydford in Leg 2b, persistent flooding may have been the cause of the move to higher ground.
At Newlands Farm, an archaeological excavation in the summer of 1986 identified a small scale, possibly defended, Romano-British settlement or farmstead. On the northern side of Limerick Lane there is an associated field system of four small rectangular fields with divisions running north to south.
Limerick Lane and Limerick Farm. Neither the present nor the previous owners of the farm know the reason for this name.
There is another area called 'Limerick' on the far side of Frome. In times past it was far outside the town and it has been suggested that the name may have been a humorous reflection on its remoteness, rather than as having any connection with Ireland. Perhaps this may be the case here but who knows?