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Starting at the site of Spetisbury Station, this walk of around 3km
(just under 2 miles) includes part of the long lamented Somerset & Dorset Railway
that was so cruelly killed by British Railways Western Region shortly after nationalisation, simply because it hadnʼt been built by the Great Western.
As you walk along the railway line, listening to the constant drone of the traffic on the main road below you canʼt help thinking that
we were quite mad, back in the 60s, to move everything off the railways and on to the roads. The environmental impact on the houses below you must be horrific.
The walk is generally dry under foot, but some of the footpaths around the ring itself are ploughed up from time to time.
The local farmer, like many others, seems to believe that driving the tractor along the line of the path once, counts as reinstating it.
If you are driving through Spetisbury from the south, look out for the turning on your left, signposted "Bridleway to South Farm" just after the speed camera.
If you are going too fast you will miss it; the turning that is, not the speed camera. The turning is easier to spot if you are coming from the north.
Also of interest on this walk is the remains of a walled kitchen garden that must, presumably,
have belonged to 18th century St Monicaʼs Priory, home to several different religious orders.
The summer house attached to the modern house overlooking this section of the walk and parts of the Village Hall are the only other remains of this building.
When I first did this walk, back in 2005, Spetisbury Station was barely visible apart from the station steps.
Back then the platform edges were just discernible in the undergrowth, but the remains of the buildings were completely invisible; hardly surprising,
given that the station closed in 1956.
Since 2009 a group of volunteers under the auspices of the New Somerset and Dorset Railway
have been working to clear the site, and significant remains of the old station are now visible.
Catch them whilst you can, as the organisation is planning to rebuild the station, thus covering up the remains they have put so much effort into exposing.