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Dinton and the Nadder Valley

Enjoy the varied scenery, the architecture and the history of two delightful villages as you explore the unspoilt Nadder Valley.

Distance 5.2 miles (8.4km)

Minimum time 3hrs

Ascent/gradient 360ft (110m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Tracks, field and woodland paths, parkland, 15 stiles

Landscape River valley and wooded hillside

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 130 Salisbury & Stonehenge

Start/finish SU 009315

Dog friendliness Dogs can be off lead in Dinton Park

Parking Dinton Park National Trust car park

Public toilets None on route

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1 Leave the car park, cross and follow the lane to the B3089. Turn left, pass Little Clarendon, and continue for ¼ mile (400m). Take the path right by a bus shelter.

2 Follow the track to a kissing gate and cross the railway line to a further gate. Keep to the track and bear left alongside a stream to reach Dinton Mill. Pass to the left of the mill, cross the footbridge over the River Nadder and follow the drive to a lane.

3 Turn right and follow the metalled lane into Compton Chamberlayne. Take the footpath right, opposite the entrance to Compton House. Steadily ascend, pass round a gate and continue along the track to Home Farm and a junction of tracks.

4 Turn right, follow the track left around farm buildings and remain on the track with views of the regimental badges. Walk beside woodland, then on nearing the field corner, follow the narrow path into the trees and continue close to the woodland fringe. Pass a reservoir to reach a track.

5 Turn right and walk downhill to a lane. Turn left then, at the sharp left bend, take the path right and enter a field (stile left). Bear half right to a stile. Cross a track, pass through a kissing gate and walk across rough grassland, soon to bear left to a gate.

6 Turn right along the field edge, go through a kissing gate and bear left down the right-hand side of a field. At a waymarker, follow the path left, downhill to a stile. Descend through scrub, cross a footbridge, then a stile and walk ahead to a further stile. Bear left along the riverbank, cross a stile and continue to a bridge over the mill stream.

7 Pass in front of Mill Farm on a permissive path. Cross a footbridge and stile and bear diagonally right towards the railway. Cross the line via stiles and bear slightly right to a stile and woodland. Walk through to a stile and keep ahead, to the rear of a barn, to a stile. Continue ahead to a stile, then cut across pasture, keeping to the right of the second telegraph pole to a stile and road.

8 Cross the stile opposite into Dinton Park and turn right alongside the hedge. Bear off left along a grassy path, pass the pond and head towards the church. Go through the first gate on your right and return to the car park.

The Nadder Valley is quite unlike any of the other river valleys that radiate out from Salisbury, for it is not a distinct deep valley incised in the chalk strata as is evident in the neighbouring Ebble and Wylye river valleys. This anomalous character is due to the fact that the Nadder traverses a sequence of rock types, resulting in a landscape of scarp slopes and deep combes within its broad vale. In this well-watered valley, villages free from the need to be located on the banks of the Nadder, are found scattered across the landscape, nestling among lush meadows, wooded hills and along gentle tributary streams. Your walk explores the heart of the Nadder Valley, its wooded slopes and two unspoilt villages, delightful Dinton and the charmingly named Compton Chamberlayne.

The village of Dinton, built on a hillside north of the Nadder, is bordered by three beautifully landscaped houses, each associated with important Wiltshire families. Surprisingly for such a small village, the National Trust owns four properties here - Hyde's House, Lawes Cottage, Little Clarendon and Philipps House - the latter two are open to the public during the summer months. In the old part of the village, close to St Mary's Church, you will find Hyde's House, an elegant building with a Queen Anne façade masking 16th-century origins. It was here that Charles II's chancellor, Edward Hyde was born in 1609.

His daughter Anne married the future James II and was mother to Queen Anne and Queen Mary. Close to the village shop is Lawes Cottage, the 17th-century home of the Lawes family. Henry Lawes (1596-1662) was a well known musician and composer of the day. He became Master of the King's Musick, wrote the anthem for the Coronation of Charles II and, as a friend of Milton, wrote the music for his Masque of Comus in 1634. Next door is Little Clarendon, a handsome, early Tudor manor house with a small 20th-century chapel in the garden. You can view three ground floor rooms, each furnished with vernacular oak furniture. The grandest of all the houses is Philipps House, an imposing stone mansion with a neo-Grecian façade that dominates Dinton Park. Formerly called Dinton House, it was completed in 1820 by Jeffrey Wyatt for William Wyndham, the last of the three great families to reside in Dinton.

Overlooking a lovely lake in peaceful parkland, Compton House (not open to the public) was the seat of the Penruddockes, an influential Wiltshire family for 300 years from 1550. The small 13th-century church contains the family vault and the remains of John Penruddocke, a gallant gentleman who was executed in 1655 following his efforts to raise support against Parliamentarian rule.

Where to eat and drink

Traditional pub food and locally-brewed real ales can be enjoyed at the unpretentious Wyndham Arms in Dinton. Near by, try the excellent 16th-century Black Dog at Chilmark (west along B3089) for imaginative food and an informal atmosphere.

What to look for

Note the remarkable series of twelve regimental badges etched into the chalk on Compton and Fovant Downs as you walk west from Compton Chamberlayne. They were made in 1916 by men who were billeted at huge training and transit camps in the area before going into action on the Western Front. Look for John Penruddocke's name on the family memorial in Compton Chamberlayne church which states that he was 'beheaded at Exeter'.

While you're there

Stroll across Dinton Park and take a closer look at Philipps House. You can explore the principal ground floor rooms and learn more about the Wyndham family. Note the impressive central staircase of Portland stone and the fine views across the Nadder Valley. Drive west along the B3089 to see Teffont Evias, a charming stone village on the Teff stream.

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