Dorsetshire Gap Mileaters Walk
17 ‘raring to go’ Mileaters set off to walk the short circular course of approx 4.5miles. However, the initial section was a steep uphill gradient that left the group with little breath for talking. Never known them so quiet! Once on top of Nettlecombe Tout a well earned breather was had whilst we learned some of the history of the hill fort and geography of the area.
A pleasant downhill stroll ensued over Cross Dykes and Earthworks towards our coffee stop. The slope being gentle meant the views could be enjoyed without having to watch foot placements. Nick believes that on a good day Glastonbury Tor can be seen from up there. We looked but couldn’t see the Tor but could make out Hardy’s monument in the distance. The views were worth the slog.
After coffee on a sunny grass bank (socially distanced) we continued with a ramble across fields that brought us to Higher Melcombe, these days just a Manor house and farm. The original village, mentioned in the Doomsday Book, was called Melcombe Horsey having 33 inhabitants is no longer present. These days remains of the village can only be seen on maps and from a couple of viewing points along the route.
A more gentle incline takes us up to the Dorsetshire Gap a major crossroads in days gone by, the ‘Spaghetti Junction’ of its time and possibly the route through which the Black Death spread to the Midlands and the North, having alighted from Europe via Melcome (adjacent to Weymouth but an important port in the 1300s). The Black Death was responsible for the death of 30-50% of the 5 million population in England.
Once back on the top, lunch was partaken in a sheltered spot and the sun came out again so that we could enjoy the views for a second time. Despite the lovely situation some members had to get back to take part in a WI ‘zoom’ meeting and we all know from the Pantomime that "nobody messes with the WI”.