Stinsford church, Thorncombe Woods and Hardy’s Cottage.
Having had a bad migraine the evening before (maybe I was overdoing it after all!) I was pleased to find my head feeling much better as I set off.
I had a leaflet that I had printed off the internet and I followed their walk to Hardy’s Cottage and back.
The walk started at Grey’s Bridge. The instructions were then to take the second footpath on the right which was a bridal path. I did this, went under a busy road and eventually turned left as a little detour to see Stinsford church. On the wall outside the church near the door was this plaque containing a quotation form one of Thomas Hardy’s poems – The Darkling Thrush. I especially like the font they had used!
There were a few features of note ins1de the church that I photographed.
The font. (Another meaning of the word!!)This side chapel evoked a sense of peace and harmony.The stained glass windows were not exceptional except for this one that seemed more modern. (I am less keen on Victorian style stained windows.)It was clear that this was Elijah and a closer look confirmed it. There was a dedication to Thomas Hardy underneath but the ivy which you can see in the above photograph rather obscured it.
There was a Madonna and Child: The niche may well be older than the statue.
I also liked the carving on the pillars.This photograph will help tie it all together as you can see the Elijah window, the statue, the pillars and the side chapel was to the left beyond the statue.
Of course I had to have a look for the graves of Thomas Hardy’s heart, Cecil Day Lewis and his wife. I enjoyed the poetry of C Day Lewis and Thomas Hardy but I have never read Hardy’s books as they seemed from reports to be rather depressing!
I then retraced my steps back to the original path and continued on my way. I came across this when the path went through a farmyard. I thought it looked like something of an antique.
About 1130 I passed the Pine Lodge Tea Room which was noted on the map and instructions. It was an extremely hot and sunny day and I was feeling rather drained.
It appeared the they were shut but I went up to read what it said on the door. It appeared that they were open at midday for lunches but that seemed a long time to wait.
As I stood there the door was opened and a women asked me if she could get me a drink. I chose a sparkling elderflower which came with ice and she also filled up my water bottle. I suppose she saw the opportunity for a sale but it was still very kind of her.
Much refreshed I continued on my way until I reached Thorncombe Woods. Here I found Rushy Pond and these attractive and unusual seats. So I sat for a while in the shade.
I then walked on, following the signs, until I could see Hardy’s Cottage. I wandered around and found this memorial put up by fans from the USA. Here is a closer look at what it says. I also walked round to where I could see the back of the cottage that was surprisingly plain and almost windowless.
I was getting hungry by now and there was a sign to the Visitor’s Centre and Car Park so I followed it down what turned out to be a very long and sometimes quite steep path.
After a bowl of soup. I trudged back to the cottage to rejoin the route in the leaflet. I didn’t pay to go into the cottage as I tend to prefer grounds to interiors and I knew I would feel awkward in my walking boots.
The rest of the route was less picturesque and included electric fences and an Animal Care Centre. Luckily a couple of the girls there happened to know how to open the gate because I was struggling. It is surprising how many different sorts of gate you meet on a country walk.
I saw this house which I now think is Kingston Maurward House and shortly afterward a rabbit!
On the whole the instructions were very clear and the sign-posting was excellent. However I was about to meet a problem on getting to section 13 (unlucky for some!). The signposting for The Old Manor was not at all clear and I ended up asking two different people if they knew of a nearby cattle grid: as the next significant point to find. Once there I had no more problems and when I saw these signposts I knew I had completed the circular part of my walk.
Have you noticed this holiday is all about circles: walking all round Maiden Hill, walking the almost all way round bank of Maumbury Rings, Walking round the Giant’s Hill and now a circular walk that took in Hardy’s Cottage!
The way back was now straight forward and I went and collapsed gratefully back in my room at the guest house.