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  • Elaine Perkins

Broad Chalke and Fifield Bavant

The week after the heatwave we again managed to get the opportunity to go out for a walk in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside and despite (or because) of the much needed rain we really enjoyed every minute of it.

Once again we chose to start at Broad Chalke but this time we decided not to head south towards the Ox Drove but instead took the middle, less steep route southwest of the village towards Bowerchalke. However, just before reaching this village, we turned northwards towards Meads End and Fifield Bavant. From there we headed back to Broad Chalke along by the river and watercress beds. It was a moderate and fairly short walk of about 4.8 miles just right for us yesterday but it could easily be extended to include Bowerchalke and beyond.

As usual we parked in the church car park but this time took the path alongside the church to South Street where we turned right and headed into the village passing the Red House and many pretty cottages. These had a number of different styles, and some allowed only a small glimpse to be spied from their pretty garden gate, but all were very much in keeping with this attractive village.

Cottage on South Street Broad Chalke small glimpse spied from the pretty garden gate

At a triangle of grass and a pretty stone built house we turned left then to the right and up a tree lined sunken lane to head out of the village. Soon we were out into open pasture where sheep were grazing and the sun, which was fleetingly shining through the mostly cloudy sky, gave the impression it was dancing across the undulating landscape.

The sunken lane leading out of Broad Chalke

Open pasture where sun was dancing across the undulating landscape

Here only a few solitary trees lined the path and we felt the breeze quite keenly but it was a welcome relief after the heat of last week. Even under the cloud laden skies the countryside was beautiful; the yellow of the ripened barley adding a golden hue to the scenery. Sadly, most of the sheep moved away from us as we walked past them and we regretted disturbing their peace and quiet for what was only a transitory moment.

A few solitary trees lined the path towards Bowerchalke

The yellow ripened barley adding a glow to the scenery. Possibly Gurston Knoll in the background

At a crossroads in the footpaths we turned right and headed down towards Mead End noting the dry conditions and hoping that the clouds might at least produce some moisture.

The footpath towards Mead End

We continued past Mead End and crossing the road we headed to Fifield Bavant. Along this path we observed some young hares chasing each other. They were completely oblivious to our presence but too quick to capture on camera. We also caught sight of a slim brown and buff bird which might have been a spotted flycatcher but sadly it wasn’t possible to get a proper identification. As we walked on towards Fifield Bavant we got our wish for rain but it was for the most part light and not too troubling, and gave the views a slightly enigmatic mistiness. As we entered the tiny village we noticed a clapper bridge over a dry river bed and came across some friendly sheep, a ewe with her two lambs.

Clapper Bridge over the river Ebble, Fifield Bavant

These sheep, for once, ran towards us rather than in the opposite direction and seemed to talk to us. But after stopping briefly to say hello, again we were filled with regret as the mother followed us to the gate still wanting company and bleated in a somewhat chastising way when we took our leave. At the village we turned towards the church passing a row of thatched cottages on our left.

The friendly ewe Fifield Bavant

Row of thatched cottages Fifield Bavant

The village of Fifield Bavant is incredibly small and has an equally tiny church which has been written about previously by Hidden Wiltshire (Fifield Bavant and the Smallest Church in Wiltshire). The church is a lovely building but seems somewhat isolated so we were surprised that, although simple, it was very warm and welcoming inside.

Tiny Fifield Bavant Church

From the church we retraced our steps a little down the hill and taking the gate to our left we headed across a field and second clapper bridge bef