Distance: 3 miles/5km
Time: 1 hour
Total climb: 250 ft
Max height: 390 ft
Min height: 150 ft
Terrain: Track, path, road and field.
Exertion: Easy. Some mud after rain.
Start: The Farquharson Arms (Grid Ref: ST904089, Postcode DT11 8TX).
Map: Explorer 118 Shaftesbury and Cranborne Chase
How to get there: From Salisbury travel south west on the A354. As you drive through Pimperne village, the pub is on the left.
Dogs: On leads where livestock is present and in accordance with any notices on the walk and The Countryside Code. Two small stiles to cross.
The Farquarson Arms is the original pub in the village. It has been in service for many years, way before The Anvil’s arrival, once being the centre of the village community.
On leaving the pub, cross straight over the road and turn left to follow the pavement. On passing Yarde Farm on the opposite side of the road, cross again to follow up Yarde Lane. Pass the industrial buildings on your right and when the road turns right, continue straight up the hill onto a track. Make your way around the corner and between two agricultural barns watching out for the often muddy footing.
Shortly after, you enter a large field called The Shrubbery, part of the Langbourne Estate. The modern Langbourne house sits in the valley on your right. Walk directly through The Shrubbery heading to the gap between the two woods ahead. Keeping one wood to your left hand side, wlak along the filed and then away from the woods to head to the top corner of the field. A gate and a stile become more clear as you approach. Climb over the stile and turn right heading to Black Lane. As you walk towards the road look to your right whenever a gap appears in the boundary. Here you look down upon the town of Blandford Forum, with St Peter and St Paul’s Georgian church tower rising up above its neighbouring roofs.
On reaching the road cross over and turn left, sticking to the pavement. Once at the top you are faced with the intimidating site of The Blandford Camp security gates. Immediately before the gates, on the left hand side, next to the brick gate post is the next footpath. Slide on through and curve around the gate post so that you are walking right next to the camp boundary, mind out for the barbed wire above your head. Here you have a clear view of the many activities and vehicles exercised in the area. Continue to follow this route, but carefully as the terrain is not always flat!
Prior to the camp becoming a military base, it was the location of a popular race course, providing much entertainment for the well to do families of the region as well as the common man. The military presence grew over time. During the agricultural rioting in the early 18th century a Yeomanry was formed to curb the bad behaviour. It consisted of four men, three of whom were from the Farquharson family, where the pub gets its name. All four men were kitted out in elaborate gold, red and white outfits twinned with brass helmets. However, a few years later they were disbanded due to a reduction of government spending. They were given the option to continue but with no costs to be paid, and therefore uniforms, and other benefits, lost. No one was interested!
The First World War saw a major growth in development of the site. It was used as a training base. Large trenches were dug out to replicate those on the continent, no evidence of these survive but one of the locations was inbetween the path descending back into the village and Stud House.
In the Second World War, it again became a training base. It was later turned into a prisoner of war camp and towards the end of the war it was occupied by five American hospitals. Causalities were brought here from nearby Tarrant Raushton Airfield (now farmland with the airstrips still visible). At its peak, 500 casualties arrived in one night.
On your right hand side you pass a gigantic water tower and then you approach the playing field. Follow the boundary around the field and then shortly after keep and eye out for the gap in the hedge on your left, leading to a stile. Cross over the stile and start your decent back into the village, away from he military base. The views open out to the west towards Ashmore Forest in the distance. Immediately below you Stud House sits, with the land in the forefront once littered with young men training in trenches.
Pimperne village is also clear with St Paul’s Church tower visible above the trees. Keep the field boundary to your right as you go down the hill. At the bottom, cross over a small stile and into the next field. Head to the bottom corner and over another stile. Here you walk closely past a private garden, and through their own garden gate, be sure to treat it respectfully. You exit out into Yarde Farm, the main road is in front of you and the pub is directly on your right.