Wiltshire Publications

Westbury Walkers

20 members of the Westbury Walkers set out on a 9.5 mile walk from Box, led by Eric Windsor, on Sunday 10th May. 

After crossing two main roads they turned left up stone steps and climbed steadily through fields in a southerly direction to the hamlet of Henley, from where a quiet lane and more field paths led them to South Wraxall.

En route they passed the grand Wraxhall Manor where it is thought Sir Walter Raleigh and the Lord of the Manor, Sir Walter Long, became the first smokers of tobacco in England. From here more lanes took the group to Lower Wraxhall where they turned westward along a tree-lined avenue towards Monkton Farleigh Manor, built on the site of a 12th Century priory.

Following the lane through the village of Monkton Farleigh, and shortly after turning right by a public house, the remains of a 14th Century stone built monks conduit could be seen. From there following paths and through a small wood the walkers joined the Kingsdown Road and eventually followed a quiet lane, bordered by fine houses, where the entrance to Brunel’s Box Tunnel could clearly be seen.

A steep descent took them towards Box Chapel Cemetery and passing St Thomas a Becket church they returned to the car park at the end of a most pleasant walk.

Report by Eric Windsor

The following weekend 21 members drove to Devon for a walking weekend on Dartmoor. This year they took over the Furzeleigh Mill Hotel at Buckfastleigh as the ‘centre of operations’. The club had engaged the services of Tim Ferry who conducts personalised historical walks across Dartmoor, to lead the Saturday walk.

Everyone gathered at the hotel early on Friday evening to listen to a short talk by Tim about the types of historical sites that would be seen on the walk.

Saturday morning saw the weather set fair though quite windy as the group set off in convoy to travel out across Dartmoor, via Dartmeet, to park in the Merrivale area.

The route of the eight mile walk first took them to an area where men in the Victorian days would make up to 60 cobblestones a day, working on outdoor stone benches still visible today, out of the natural granite that predominates in the area.

Walking north east they viewed from above, the remains of Merrivale Quarry abandoned sometime in the 1990’s. Then along the north east bank of the River Walkham, the remains of a late medieval tin smelting house were explained by the walk leader.

Crossing over Grimstone & Sortridge leat via a footbridge, they continued on to the location of 3500 year old Bronze Age round houses, stone circles and standing stones. The walk  then went on over open moorland to White Tor, where the remains of a Neolithic settlement thought to be about 4000 years old was were visible.

Crossing farmland the group then had a long and steep climb up to Roos and Great Staple Tors where the Tamar Bridge could be seen in the distance.

The final leg took them over Middle Step Tor and down over boulder fields back to the cars whereupon they all drove a short distance to walk up to and see yet more Bronze Age ceremonial remains on the other side of Merrivale.

The walk was all the more enjoyable due to the fine, though windy weather which afforded spectacular views over the whole of Dartmoor, and Tim’s friendly and informative historical narration throughout.

Report by David Barker


It was an equally sunny morning on Sunday as the group drove to Manaton Church car park for another eight mile walk, this time led by Richard Yerburgh and Keith Payne.

The route showed the prettier side of the moor but the very steep ascents and descents through wooded valleys would have been even more challenging if it had been wet underfoot.

From the church the route took the walkers to the hamlet of Horsham and on through Letchpole Plantation down a steep path to cross the River Bovey at a picturesque wooden ‘clam’ bridge.

Climbing up through woods to Pethybridge with its charming thatched cottages and then into a network of paths close to Lustleigh, the variety of spring flowers amongst carpets of bluebells was a feast for the eyes.

Examples of stink cabbage were an interesting variation however, as the path took the group through a wild garden at Mapstone, crossing a twisting stream by a series of stone slabs before another steep climb took them up through Hammerslake Wood, to the top of Lustleigh Cleeve at Sharpitor where they stopped for lunch.

Following the ridge past remains of an Iron Age hill fort to Hunters Tor, they enjoyed fine views of Haytor, Rippon Tor, Hound Tors and Great Tor before descending through Peck Farm to the pretty hamlet of Foxworthy. A final long, steep and rocky climb brought the group back to meet the outward track from Manaton.

Within hours of the walkers returning home the rains began and continued for two days – an almost identical situation to when they had visited Dartmoor some 15 years before!

Report by Paddy Yerburgh