Walk Seven – Across the fields to Surrendell HouseDistance: 3 miles
Go down Parsons Walk. At the end of the lane go straight ahead and across Court Field keeping to the right of the electricity pole this is gently uphill for most of the way. After crossing the stile go down the field and out of the gate at the bottom left corner. On the right the stile set in the stone wall in the small thicket then takes you to the bridge over Gauze Brook (*fn1
.) Bearing diagonally left with the hedge and tributary stream on your right you go through four field gates as you climb steadily through Larks Leaze. Primroses grow on the banks of the ditch in early Spring and sloes are often abundant in Autumn hereabouts. In the fourth field Hedgemoor take your line between the skimpy hedge on your left and the rough, tussocky, marshy patch on your right. Snipe, woodcock and mallard often feed here. At the far end of this large field take the stile and turn left into the next field Cow Leaze with Surrendell Farm 300 yards on your right and you will see Surrendell House ahead. Turn left through the gateway, where a signpost reads “Danes Bottom ¾ mile”, cross the field Davies Dean and go through the gateway to the next field Dean Mead. Here pick up the course of the Gauze Brook on your rightand arrive at the stone bridge in Danes Bottom. Turn right and cross the stile set in the stone wall to reach the track Deans Bottom Lane which takes you back to the village via Priors Corner and Parklands. For an interesting view on clear days (when the hedge is trimmed) pause by the large ash tree in the left-hand hedge 100 yards beyond Priors Corner and look east into the far distance where the Cherhill White Horse and monument can be seen. Alternatively, you can either follow the road back from the House (already described in Walk Six) or take the bridleway which begins on your left, about 250 yards from the House. The entrance is not obvious (*fn2
) but after 20 yards up a steepish bank you will find a small hunting gate and if the way ahead is not clear take a straight line towards Priors Corner, an obvious patch of woodland ¾ mile ahead, past the filled-in quarry through Wainslinch, Nadhooks and Oaehedge. The last 300 yards comprise a cart-track Oarhedge Lane which brings you to the Corner. Originally Oarhedge Lane (*fn3
) was double-hedged most of the way to Pig Lane; it being the route walked by the children who lived at Surrendell when they came to the village school; but in muddy weather Vlow Lane was used. Each of these routes takes about the same time.*fn1
The landscape here has changed from arable to livestock. But the route is now more obvious if less natural.*fn2
There is now a bridle way sign*fn3
Oarhedge Lane was probably created (c1670) so that the farms at Surrendell could bring their tithes to Hullavington. Although today it stops well short of Pig Lane, in former times it would probably have followed the course of the bridle way to Pig Lane.
Walk Eight – Bradfield Wood and Malmesbury CommonDistance: 4 miles
Bradfield Wood lies about 2 miles north of the village and is worth a visit in early Spring. On a chilly, windy April day drifts of bluebells scented the air and wood anemones and primroses provided varied colours. The walk can be shortened if you take the car to the Station drive and start there. Hardier souls will go down Parsons Walk near “The Star” turn right and follow the field paths vehind Court Farm Lake, Latimer Gardens, Newtown and the school playing field before meeting the Norton road, going under the railway and passing the little Brookside estate. Turn right almost immediately after crossing the Gauze Brook (you see the footpath sign) and take the stile to the rear of the Bradfield cottages (now a large bungalow) car park and then the stile in the barbed wire fence. For the first 1/4 mile or so the trail runs parallel to the brook at the distance of about 100 yards. You can’t miss, especially in Spring, the noisy rookery which occupies the line of trees on your right. Where this large field Cowleaze ends, you take the stile and bridge, bend left across Wheel Mead and soon cross a drainage ditch. Here you go diagonally right to the far corner of another big field Lower East Field, about 600 yards ahead. The path is not evident when crops are growing but there is a stile at the corner which will only become visible a few paces before you get there. Turn right to the gateway at the end of this field East Slade, then left and a small footbridge takes you over the ditch and a gate leads into the further field.
The next part of the walk is very pleasant as you follow the hedge slightly uphill and proceed in the field along the edge of the Wood, which provides welcome shelter from prevailing westerly winds. Through a stile and you meet the byway track from Foxley to Corston on the edge of Malmesbury common. Here turn left and in a few yards you will see the track into Bradfield Wood. Like all woodland paths it will be muddy in wet weather. It’s peaceful in the Wood and the track is well defined. Once again in the open field East Slade go straight ahead for 200 yards, cross the drainage ditch (there is a bridge) go through the gateway and follow the right-hand hedge. At the next ditch you are less than 100 yards from the outward path and may wish to re-join it, or you can take the cart track through several gateways to enter the large field Cowleaze again. There is no possibility of losing your right of the yellow bungalow. From here retrace your steps to the village.
June Badeni’s book “Wiltshire Forefathers” contains some interesting historical matter on Bradfield Manor. It was originally a French Monastery but was confiscated by Henry VII (not the VIII) sbout 1450 and its whole estate given to Eton which Henry VI founded at the time