Fiddleford

A few miles southwest of Shaftesbury, the town of Sturminster Newton provided access to the Somerset-Dorset rail line, closed in 1966 after 100 years of service and now a public foot and bicycle path, part of the North Dorset Trailway. We followed the trail from Sturminster Newton to the Fiddleford Manor, weirs, and mill. While not raining we needed thermal tops, overshirts, vests, raincoats, and gloves at the start of the walk. Mist still hung in the valley as we began the near-level path through hedgerow divided pastures and majestic oaks backed by lush forest and pasture- covered valley sides. The trail from the rail-bed to the manor and mill was a muddy, but passable and the daffodil-lined lane between pasture and field to the mill and manor house quite idyllic. The mill and weirs were quaint and lovely, the Stour River (more of a stream by our standards) flowed quietly through pastures and fields. The sluice for the old mill had been converted to a turbine to supplement the power grid, and its constant whine was an irritant rather than the soothing music of flowing water. The timbers of the old manor house (only the 14th-century portion had survived) were magnificent and worth the walk by itself. Come lunch time my back was too painful to continue, so I took some pain killers, set up my .4 kilo collapsible chair purchased specifically for this trip, reclined and had lunch. It worked!! By the time we we had finished lunch, I was nearly fully recovered. Even better, the sun had appeared and we were able to shed our rain jackets for the walk back. After days of cold winds and mist, the warmth of the sun on our bodies was wonderful. Attempting to find the Fiddleford Inn, we came upon the quintessential rural thatched cottage on a wooded lot, backing onto a small grass-banked stream. It was undergoing renovation, and it was interesting to see the original dressed stone walls beneath 15 cm of painted plaster. The road to the inn was flooded  between the hedgerows and would have easily topped our boots. We had to abandon our attempt. On our return, we met a couple from Shaftesbury, who filled us in on the history of the abandoned railway (he had taken it to school as a child), the history of Shaftesbury, and an armload of things to do and see in the area. They had just attended a memorial service in the morning, and he, attired in a black suit and tie, was suffering from the unexpected warmth. A quick visit to the picturesque Sturminster Newton Mill, restored and still operational, on the River Stour across from the common and we were ready for dinner.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
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Fiddleford

A few miles southwest of Shaftesbury, the town of Sturminster Newton provided access to the Somerset-Dorset rail line, closed in 1966 after 100 years of service and now a public foot and bicycle path, part of the North Dorset Trailway. We followed the trail from Sturminster Newton to the Fiddleford Manor, weirs, and mill. While not raining we needed thermal tops, overshirts, vests, raincoats, and gloves at the start of the walk. Mist still hung in the valley as we began the near-level path through hedgerow divided pastures and majestic oaks backed by lush forest and pasture- covered valley sides. The trail from the rail-bed to the manor and mill was a muddy, but passable and the daffodil-lined lane between pasture and field to the mill and manor house quite idyllic. The mill and weirs were quaint and lovely, the Stour River (more of a stream by our standards) flowed quietly through pastures and fields. The sluice for the old mill had been converted to a turbine to supplement the power grid, and its constant whine was an irritant rather than the soothing music of flowing water. The timbers of the old manor house (only the 14th-century portion had survived) were magnificent and worth the walk by itself. Come lunch time my back was too painful to continue, so I took some pain killers, set up my .4 kilo collapsible chair purchased specifically for this trip, reclined and had lunch. It worked!! By the time we we had finished lunch, I was nearly fully recovered. Even better, the sun had appeared and we were able to shed our rain jackets for the walk back. After days of cold winds and mist, the warmth of the sun on our bodies was wonderful. Attempting to find the Fiddleford Inn, we came upon the quintessential rural thatched cottage on a wooded lot, backing onto a small grass-banked stream. It was undergoing renovation, and it was interesting to see the original dressed stone walls beneath 15 cm of painted plaster. The road to the inn was flooded  between the hedgerows and would have easily topped our boots. We had to abandon our attempt. On our return, we met a couple from Shaftesbury, who filled us in on the history of the abandoned railway (he had taken it to school as a child), the history of Shaftesbury, and an armload of things to do and see in the area. They had just attended a memorial service in the morning, and he, attired in a black suit and tie, was suffering from the unexpected warmth. A quick visit to the picturesque Sturminster Newton Mill, restored and still operational, on the River Stour across from the common and we were ready for dinner.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow