Dinton Park Trail
Ranger's highlight: "The stunning parkland surrounding Phillips House, with cattle grazing, swallows feeding, birds of prey wheeling above and the majestic house in the centre, makes for a beautiful setting to begin the walk. The enormous veteran sweet chestnuts on the north-west slopes of the park and up into the woods are just fantastic. Many are over 250 years old and some may even pre-date the park itself."
Along the way
Phillips House, of neo-Grecian style, was designed by Jeffry Wyatt the architect responsible for early 19th century alterations to Windsor Castle and Chatsworth House. The house is named after Bertram Philipps who bought the estate in 1903 and left the house and park to the National Trust upon his death 1948. Nearby, Little Clarendon was once home to Rev. George Engleheart, who developed many daffodil and other narcissus varieties, in the field behind his home and the spring flowers have spread and now bloom throughout the village each year. The 200 acres of park and woodland here are quintessential English countryside, with a variety of wildlife on display; deer or hare at the woodlands edge, red kite and hobby soaring above, kingfishers can be seen darting across the lake and you may be lucky to see barn owls at dusk. Cattle graze the land which improves the diverse grassland habitat, in a traditional and sustainable way.
National Trust Car Park SPE 5HR (St Mary's Road, Dinton)
Park at the Dinton Park National Trust car park, off St Mary's Road, Dinton and leave the car park by the footpath directly opposite the gate you came in - the church should be visible on your right. At the end of the footpath, go through the gate and into the parkland. Dinton Park is a hidden gem of Wiltshire. More than 230 acres of classical, English parkland, mature beech and sweet chestnut woodland and an imposing but apt neo-Grecian mansion at its heart. You may see deer or hare on the woodland edge in the morning, red kite and hobby soaring during the day and barn owls hunting at dusk. It's not unknown to see kingfisher darting across the lake. Take the right-hand path that bears round to the right and passes in front of the block of woodland you can see on your right. Dinton House should soon come into view ahead.
Once you get to the corner of the woods, with the house in front of you, turn left towards a stand of trees with ornate zig-zag tree guards around them, following a well-trodden path. Pass between the trees and continue uphill following the path to the right-hand side of the row of large oak trees ahead.
Go through a gap in the hedge and take the right-hand path towards a large single oak ahead of you. Just past the oak you should be able to see a gate ahead of you, slightly to the left, leading out of the parkland into woodland - head towards it.
Go through the gate, following the yellow arrow, and continue along the path and through the next gate. Continue along the path with the woods on your left and fields on the right. Follow the path as it turns sharply to the right between a pair of metal gates. The path here becomes very overgrown with gorse and brambles for a short while.
At the junction with a number of other paths, at the end of the overgrown section, continue straight on into the woods, through a narrow gap in the vegetation ahead signposted with a white arrow on a waymarker post. At this point you will see a beautiful small (privately owned) lake down to the left, head on through the gap.
At the crossroads with a wide grassy ride continue straight on through the woods. When the woods end, at the crossroads with a second grassy track, continue straight on through a narrow overgrown path between two fences, towards another wood ahead. At the end of the path go through a large metal gate into the wood.
At the fork almost at the end of the wood take the right-hand path and go through the rickety metal gate then continue on towards the houses, following the path along the fence line to your right.
Go through the gate at the end of the field and continue straight down the driveway ahead passing some beautiful gardens and buildings as you go. Follow the drive as it curves to the right until you reach a road.
When you reach the road turn right and carry on until you come to a track on your right and a small metal gate on your left.
Just a little further on you will see a bridleway sign pointing left. Turn left down this lane and continue on, past farm houses and barns on your right, until the road forks. Take the right-hand fork and continue uphill along a long slow incline.
At the end of this bridleway, at the T-junction, pass to the right-hand side of the large metal gate and turn right onto the Monarch's Way, now a concrete road. Continue on past the turning for Juniper House Farm until the road starts to bend to the left. Just before it starts to bend right again, you will see a path through the woods on your right-hand side with a missing way marker sign.
Turn right down here and follow the path with the woods on your left and open fields on your right. At the crossroads with a minor road continue straight on, following the restricted byway sign.
At the junction with a number of other tracks, at the top of a short incline, keep right and follow the track as it bears round to the right. About 20 yards further on, turn left into the woods just before the entrance to a field signposted as 'Private', following the blue Monarch's Way arrow.
At the very end of the woods, you will see a tree on your right with two blue arrows. Turn right here following the Public Bridleway arrow; follow the path uphill along the edge of the field keeping the hedge on your right.
At the end of the field, continue following the edge as it bears round to the left then turn right through the large gap and continue straight on along the grassy track towards the black barn ahead.
At the junction with another track, continue straight on down the hill, then round the bend past the houses on your right. Continue straight on up the hill, ignoring the track on your right.
Eventually you will come to the end of Field Barn Lane. Cross straight over the road at this point and up the steep bank opposite, signposted as a Public Footpath. Keep following this narrow path to the left and downhill through the woods until you see the National Trust 'The Hangings' sign where the path drops down a slope to your right. Turn left at the bottom of the slope and then immediately right downhill along a narrow path. When the path emerges from the woods, carry straight on towards the houses.
Turn right through a metal gate on your right at the back of some bungalows, then follow the tarmac path around the bungalow, to the left then to the right, until you come to a road. At this point you can turn left down to the major road and then left again which will take you to the Wyndam Arms pub on your left (about a 5 min walk). Alternatively cross the road and follow the tarmac path between No 33 and a brick wall.
Pass through the gate at the back of No 33 and into the field following the path round to the left. Pass through the gate at the end of the field and you can see little Clarendon Orchard on your left. The entrance gate is just a little further on so feel free to explore the area and pick some apples if you're here at the right time of year. Continue along the path, heading straight on at the junction, ignoring the gate to the right and path to the left.
At the next junction continue straight on through a very tall gate marked with a yellow arrow, ignoring the stile to your left and the gate and path to your right.
Go through the gate on your left at the end of the path and turn right to follow the mown path along the fence line. Go through the wooden gate at the end of the fence next to the red brick house, following the white arrows along this narrow path until you reach the road with St Mary's church opposite you. Turn left onto the road and continue the short distance until you see the National Trust car park sign on the right and turn right into the car park to return to your vehicle.
National Trust Car Park SPE 5HR (St Mary's Road, Dinton)
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