Martinsell Hill Circuit
A hearty walk, taking in the best of the Pewsey Vale. If you haven't done a walk from the farm yet, and are not put off by the prospect of 7 miles up hill and down vale, this is possibly the most rewarding trail you can follow. Better still, you can take in the pretty village of Wootton Rivers, and rest up over lunch or a drink at the Royal Oak pub, before finishing the last 40 minutes of your walk along the canal towpath.
Leaving the farm drive, turn left down the road, under the railway bridge, and through the hamlet of New Mill. After half a mile, the road rises to the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bridge No. 111. Join the towpath (there's a short cut-through just past Little Wharf), and head left, westwards towards Pewsey.
After about half a mile, you will reach Bridge No. 112 at Milkhouse Water. Leave the towpath here, and head to the right, over the bridge, following the road for another half mile or so. Keep straight on past the left hand turn, keeping the hill directly in front of you. The public road comes to an end, but the tarmac lane ahead of you is a public right of way, leading you to a grass track, with an open field on your left and a hedge on your right.
As you reach the base of the hill, you pass through a metal gate. Take the right hand track up the side of the hill; as you climb above the trees and bushes, you'll have a glorious view of the vale, which just gets better as you climb higher. It's quite an arduous trek to the gate at the top of this track, but you get your money's worth for the view! Keeping right in the field at the top, you come to a stile in the corner after just a few yards.
Follow the track beyond the stile, which can be slippery in winter; you go past some wind-blown trees and ancient earthworks, with the view of the Vale of Pewsey on your right. Soon, you arrive at the corner of the hill, and the second highest point in Wiltshire, at 946 ft ASL, and you may be relieved to see that someone has very kindly provided a bench so that you can rest your feet while you take in the majestic panorama. You can see your pod or caravan from here!
It's downhill from here, so follow the trail around the top of the hill, and where the track splits, go to the right, keeping the view of the vale on your right all the way to the small car park. From here, you can follow the road downhill, and straight back to the farm if you keep going straight ahead. However the lane is narrow in places, and we would suggest that you cross straight over the road instead.
This track is Mud Lane (aptly named in the winter months!), and takes you along a tree-lined trail, away from the views of the vale for a while. There are three alternative routes to take you down the side of the hill into Wootton Rivers, depending how far you want to go along Mud Lane, although the overall distances are roughly the same. You'll see footpath markers on the right, and you can follow the margins of the fields down to the village street, heading southward. If you continue along Mud Lane for about 50m beyond the third trail on the right, you might find the Green Man, an impressive wood carving in an oak branch stump, but now showing its age a bit. The carved face watches you with a disapproving stare from every angle!
Once you have made your way down the hill, you join the road for a few hundred yards, and in the middle of this pretty thatched village, you can stop for lunch and refreshment at the Royal Oak pub, or carry on to the canal bridge at the end of the village. Turning right along the towpath towards Pewsey, you carry on to the third bridge, No. 111, before leaving the canal and re-tracing your steps back to Totteridge Farm.
Allow 3 to 4 hours. This walk is quite arduous in places with some fairly rough conditions underfoot. The top of Martinsell Hill can be very cold and windy in winter. Good boots and a stick are recommended! Check the weather forecast before leaving and carry appropriate clothing.
Sunrise from Martinsell, June 2020. You'll need to get up early!