We could not find a bus to take us to this walk so had to use the car. We parked it by the church in Littlebredy, then set off south eastwards in the direction of the cricket pitch. We turned off the road onto the bridleway just before the cricket pavilion and crossed the side of the cricket field. I know that some cricket pitches are notorious for having a slope but this one appeared especially uneven. I suspect the fielders could stand still and watch as a ball that was hit past them stopped and rolled back to them before too many runs had been scored.
Climbing up the hillside there are increasingly attractive views to your left over Littlebredy Farm and the Valley of Stones nature reserve. A short while later, after passing a copse to the right, there is an attractive valley stretching down towards Foxholes Farm.
After continuing along a lane, we met a road and took a sharp right to continue on a bridleway in the direction of the Grey Mare and her Colts long barrow. I think we must have been the wrong side of a hedge and saw nothing of this monument. Soon after where this long barrow must have been we turned slightly right and took a short refreshment rest in the Kingston Russell stone circle. We then continued across the field and down the steep hill past the hut circles overlooking Foxholes Farm. We walked past Foxholes and Long Coppices and, just before the lake at Lower Kingston Russell Farm, we retraced our steps to avoid a muddy stream bed and joined a farm track that took us up to and past the lake.
After a short walk along the road we found the entrance to Watergate, nothing to do with the infamous U.S. scandal though. This was another bridleway but it did not seem like it. It seemed more like a private drive towards a beautifully maintained house and gardens. After crossing a small stream
at the entrance to the house, the path more or less disappeared. We took what we thought was the general direction of the path, walking over well-manicured lawn, and eventually located the very overgrown continuation of the bridleway. It was so overgrown we almost had to fight our way through. I wonder if this is deliberate neglect by Watergate’s owners! None too soon we found the exit gate from this jungle and sat down with some relief to take our lunch.
After lunch we had a quick look around and discovered the incredible Bellamont House.
I took the house to be a Georgian mansion but after a little research discovered that it was built in 1995 and was Country Life House of the Year in 2002. The bridleway goes close by the extraordinary house and the even more extraordinary barn. The Country Life Picture Library has a photo of this barn and a description that says “The facade includes Tuscan pilasters and is surmounted by a gilded turret clock”; not your average farm barn then.
Soon after passing the barn and the house entrance the path continues to climb through a delightful combe with crowds of butterflies. At the top of the hill we turned right onto the Macmillan Way and walked back, with excellent views, until we reached the road just outside Littlebredy.
On entering the village we were attracted by a showroom sign announcing furniture restoration and hand painting. We had a very pleasant look around and chat with the two artisans, who told us about their and the village’s history, and that the lake of Bridehead was open to the public and could be accessed from behind the church. We were not entirely time- wasters though because one of our walking group bought a chair from them.