Broad Chalke Leisure

Leisure and Local Interests : Broad Chalke

Chiselbury Hillfort; Ancient British Camp on 9th June 2006

Chiselbury Hillfort; Ancient British Camp on 9th June 2006

View from Chiselbury Hillfort ancient British Camp on 9th June 2006 over repairs to a military emblem

View from Chiselbury Hillfort Ancient British Camp on 9th June 2006
over repairs to a military emblem showing the steep hill

Hiking and Biking

There are numerous minor lanes along the Rivers Ebble and Chalk and also farm tracks, bridleways and footpaths leading up from the valley villages to the downs to the north and south which are ideal for hiking or mountain-biking.

Contact the Ramblers for guided walks.

Fovant Badges (Military Emblems)

British and Australian military badges outlined in the chalk hillside can be reached by car along the gravel Ridgeway from the top of Fovant Down past several large poultry sheds. The badges were restored in 2006 and 2007 and are best seen from the A30 road just west of Fovant.

Chiselbury Hillfort

Chiselbury Hillfort, an ancient British Camp about 300 metres diameter with banks about two to three metres high, can be reached by car along the gravel Ridgeway from the top of Fovant Down past several large poultry sheds.

The Ridgeway

The Herepath, locally called The Ridgeway, is also called Shaftesbury Drove, Race Plain or Salisbury Road. It became The Turnpike during the seventeenth and eighteen centuries. This ancient track runs along the ridge north of Ebbesbourne Wake, Broad Chalke and Bishopstone and runs for many miles further east and west. It meets the road to Wilton near the Salisbury Racecourse. There are several farm tracks, bridleways and footpaths leading down to the villages. It is a national cycle trail and is generally a good gravel track. It links with the Wessex Ridgeway to the south west near Donhead St Andrew and it continues north east through Salisbury.
There seem to be several tracks in the south of England called The Ridgeway and the official Greater Ridgeway National Trail runs further north and extends from Wiltshire along the chalk ridge of the Berkshire Downs to the River Thames at the Goring Gap, part of the Icknield Way which ran, not always on the ridge, from Salisbury Plain to East Anglia. The Wessex Ridgeway runs from Marlborough in the north to Lime Regis in the south west.

Wessex Ridgeway

Win Green

This is the highest point in the area, just south of Berwick St. John, and is a popular place to walk or just admire the view over several counties. There is access for cars down a short gravel track off the B3081 between the A30 and Tollard Royal. The steep hills nearby are good for hang-gliding, kite-flying and radio-controlled model gliders.

You can walk a short distance east along the Ox Drove at the head of the valley where Madonna lives and then walk down the valley to Tollard Royal.

The Ox Drove

This is the ancient track along the ridge from Win Green, south of Berwick St. John, Bowerchalke, Broad Chalke, Bishopstone and Stratford Tony and runs for many miles further west and east, reaching the A354 south of Stratford Tony.

The section south of Bishopstone is deeply rutted and damaged by off-road vehicles and trail-riders. It often has flooded potholes and is overgrown to a large extent. Local farmers drive on the field edge just to the north side of the hedge. It is part of a national cross-country cycle trail although I use the field edge for most of it.

There are several farm tracks, bridleways, footpaths or roads leading down to villages; a pretty narrow lane down to Misselfore and Bowerchalke, Church Bottom down to Broad Chalke and several farm tracks down to Bishopstone and Stratford Tony, either grassy through woods with lush nettles or gravel farm tracks.

It connects with the Wessex Ridgeway north of Tollard Royal near Win Green.

The Roman Road

This road, sometimes referred to as Ackling Dyke and sometimes as Antonine Iter XV, runs from the south coast near Poole to Badbury Rings (Vindocladia), then runs east of Blandford to Wilton and beyond to Old Sarum and Stonehenge. It cuts diagonally across the Ox Drove south of Bishopstone having passed the side of Vernditch Chase and goes across fields before plunging down to a ford at Stratford Tony. It is also a national cycle trail although some fields have fist-sized stones which are bumpy to cycle over and a few fields have crops which overhang the path and make it very narrow. It's best to cycle over this route before crops are sown or after crops have been harvested.

Rockbourne Roman Villa

Rockbourne Roman villa is about nine miles east of Broad Chalke near Fordingbridge. The villa site includes bath houses, living quarters, farm buildings and workshops. Visitors can see the best mosaics, part of the underfloor heating system and the outline of the villa's forty rooms.

Vernditch Chase

Vernditch is an ancient defensive ditch and bank running roughly east-west for many miles although it is broken into sections now. The section in Vernditch Chase, near the road from Broad Chalke to the A354, is heavily overgrown with trees. There is also a Long Barrow, an ancient burial chamber.

Middleton Down and Coombe Bissett Down

These wildlife reserves are owned or managed by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. These two reserves are designed to conserve meadow grassland and to support varied wild flowers, butterflies and other insects as well as small mammals and birds of prey. The meadows are grazed with sheep and cattle.

Middleton Down is south of Broad Chalke about a mile up Church Bottom (it is advisable to drive cars up the track only when the track is dry). The reserve can also be reached by driving along the Ox Drove from Knowle Hill off the road from Broad Chalke to the A354.

Coombe Bissett Down can be reached by car on a farm track from the Homington road out of Coombe Bissett.

Martin Down

Martin Down is a large area of chalk downland near Martin, south of the A354. It is a National Nature Reserve (NNR) jointly owned and managed by Natural England and the Hampshire County Council.

Cranborne Chase and AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty)

Cranborne Chase is a very large area of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset, about 1000 square kilometres, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

There is a newsheet called The Hart produced roughly every three months.

Historic Landscape Project website for the AONB.

Langford Lakes

Langford Lakes, wetland reserves owned by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, are next to the River Wylye and can be reached by car in about thirty minutes, turning off the A36 and passing through Steeple Langford.

Fly fishing

Chalke Valley Fly Fishing in the ponds at Bishopstone.

Chalke Valley Trout Farm

Chalke Valley Trout Farm in the River Chalk at Bowerchalke will show visitors around the breeding tanks.

Larmer Tree Gardens

Larmer Tree Gardens south of Tollard Royal are pleasure grounds developed by General Pitt Rivers in 1880 for "public enlightenment and entertainment".

The gardens were very popular during the 1920s and 1930s when open-topped charabancs took people for day trips from nearby villages; everyone dressed in their best hats and thick overcoats even in summer. I have heard that they had to get out and walk up the steep hill south of Bowerchalke towards Sixpenny Handley because the charabanc engines were not very powerful at that time.

The gardens are still beautiful pleasure grounds and there are now additional facilities for wedding receptions and other functions.

Salisbury Racecourse

Salisbury Racecourse is on the top of a hill near the Ridgeway, between Stratford Tony and Netherhampton, only about five miles from Broad Chalke.

Chalke Valley History Festival

Manor Farm, Ebbesbourne Wake; History Festival website

Ebbesbourne Folk Music

Look at Ebbesbourne Folk which relates to the Concerts, mostly folk/acoustic, that Paul Sampson and Bill Cox Martin have been promoting at Ebbesbourne Wake over the past few years.

Prehistoric monuments

Old Sarum, a hilltop camp with a ditch and earth ramparts, is just north of Salisbury next to the A345 to Amesbury and can be reached by car in less than thirty minutes.

Stonehenge, a stone circle with capping stones, is near the A303 west of Amesbury and can be reached by car in less than thirty minutes. This is the Wikipedia website for Stonehenge.

There are several monuments next to the A4 near Avebury which can be reached by car in less than an hour:-

Silbury Hill, an earth mound 40 metres high built about 2750 BC, before some of the Egyptian pyramids. This is the Wikipedia website for Silbury Hill.

Avebury stone circles with stone-lined avenues.

West Kennett Long Barrow, an underground burial chamber.

Historic sites and buildings

Old Wardour Castle is a mediaeval castle that was badly damaged in the Civil War between 1642 and 1651. It has a very beautiful position near a lake, flanked by wooded hills. It can be reached by car in about thirty minutes from the A30 via Anstey towards Tisbury.

Salisbury Cathedral was built in just 38 years (AD1220-1258) and has the tallest spire of any English cathedral. It is eight miles from Broad Chalke and can be reached by car in about twenty minutes.

Wilton House, the home of the earls of Pembroke, was built about 450 years ago and has art treasures and 21 acres of gardens and parkland. It is six miles from Broad Chalke and can be reached by car in about fifteen minutes.

Braemore House and Countryside Museum is about thirteen miles east of Broad Chalke near Fordingbridge and close to the A338 to Bournemouth. The house dates from 1583. The Countryside Museum takes visitors back to the time when a village was self-sufficient and has some exhibits from Broad Chalke including a set of hardwood joiner's planes which belonged to Thomas Burrough. See also tourUK's website about Braemore House and Museum.