Park in Rock Pit Farm car park (one of Dorset’s Important Geological Sites – DIGS) and walk past the school to the end of Church Road. Cross the road to join the Frome Valley Trail at Skip’s Bridge. Walking across Skip’s field, admire the sculptured waymarkers that mark the flood relief channel. (If the river is in flood and the channel is being used, do not attempt to cross.
Take the alternative cycle route following the road to Frome Vauchurch.) To the east you can see evidence of medieval farming methods or strip cultivation, called Strip Lynchets. Work to protect the riverbank, its bridge and footpath has been carried out along the River Frome at Frome Vauchurch. The movement of the river creates eroding cliffs that can provide nesting areas for kingfisher and sandmartins.
Care has been taken when working on the river to ensure that kingfisher and sandmartin nesting sites and fish spawning beds have been protected. The chalk stream is a unique habitat which supports the water crowfoot, a typical plant of chalk streams. It also provides habitats for large numbers of mayfly invertebrates, a well known food of brown trout. Otter and water vole are common along the Frome, making it a river of national importance.
Not far from Southover, evidence of a Roman Villa was found at Nunnery Mead, a Dorset Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. To the west of the trail, a 9 km aqueduct carried water to Durnovaria (Roman Dorchester).
Walk through 12th Century Charminster towards Dorchester, entering at High West Street. To visit the town, turn right. To carry on with the trail, follow the waymarkers straight across the main street and continue along the riverbank.
Start Car park: Rock Pit Farm car park, Church Rd, Maiden Newton
Distance: 10.8 miles (17.4 km)
Average time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Degree of difficulty: Moderate – all gates (no stiles)