Ivor King’s Country Rambles around Pill
Walk 2 – Watchhouse Hill, Ham Green, Markham Brook,
Brookside Playing Field
This is a pleasant walk of 3 miles with two short climbs and 13 stiles. The paths are well way-marked and distinct.
- Start from Watchhouse Road beside the creek which, when the village name was ‘Crockerne’ was known as Crockerne Pill. But the village eventually became known simply as ‘Pill’ and so the inlet is now Pill Creek. At the end of the road bear right into a cobbled lane between gardens on your right and old cottages on your left. The largest, Mulberry Cottage has a spiral staircase built around a huge ship’s mast. From the stile climb straight ahead to the summit of Watchhouse Hill and turn around to take in the view. If the tide is high and the sky is blue, its a pleasant panorama, in spite of the M5 bridge! Note the owl box mounted on a pole high above you. Follow the path around to the left with the fence on your left and a recent plantation by the ‘Forest of Avon’ scheme on your right. At a bend in the track go right alongside the recently restored orchard keeping the railings on your left. This orchard originally belonged to Ham Green Hospital it was replanted in 1949, but when the hospital closed in the late eighties and early nineties, the orchard was allowed to go wild with the bramble and weeds taking over. The Friends of Watchhouse Hill Community Group have made a splendid job of restoration and it is now a pleasant community orchard for picnics and gathering apples if the season is right. Go ahead at the end of the fence to pass between a gate and the wall along a track to join the road. Bear left, then sharp right following the road towards some newish townhouses. At the T-junction, cross the road and follow the pavement to the cricket field, enter through a metal stile on your left.
- Cross the stile, skirting the pitch (although the footpath actually runs straight across it!) aiming for another stile 50 yards to the right of a large white cottage, keeping the stone boundary wall on your left. Admire the fine cricket pavilion on your right. Cross the stile onto Cabot Way, turn left to the road end with a stile on the right at the start of an enclosed path that leads between private properties and the grounds of St Katherine’s school on your left. On reaching the end, turn left along the pavement and take the fence and hedge enclosed path. At the end of this path where it turns right to join the pavement, turn sharp left into a the hedge enclosed path to a stile on your right.
- The next stile is straight ahead, onto a metalled road to the stile opposite. Carry on straight ahead across open fields, negotiating possibly four more stiles to a stile at the end of Blackmore Lane.
- Cross the lane to the main road and when safe to do so, cross the A369 and walk to the left along the grass verge to a lane on your right to Abbots Leigh Kennels and Haberfield Park Farm. Take the farm lane to a stile ahead. Cross the stile and continue straight ahead up a gently sloping field to the summit where the route veers to the right and then downhill to a footbridge over the Markham Brook.
- Turn left and after about 30 yards, turn right and climb the steepish path up out of the valley to a stile and an enclosed path with another stile into Happerton Lane. Turn left and follow the lane to Happerton Farm, at which take the lane to the right which leads to a T junction with the A369. The route continues across the main road and slightly to the left over a stile.
- The footpath is clearly seen straight ahead across a large open field. After 150 yards at a path junction, take the right-hand path to a stile at a path T-junction. Turn left and after 20 yards, turn right into an enclosed path, at the end of which follow the waymark to the right which leads to a road.
- Cross the gate and go straight ahead to another enclosed path which in turn leads to yet another road. Cross obliquely to the right to enter another enclosed path via a ramp or steps. This path eventually opens up into a group of houses. Keep straight ahead to the Kings Head public house and the shopping precinct. Cross Victoria Park to return to the start. But stop for a while to read the inscription on the American Monument at the head of the creek –
I hope you enjoyed the walk.