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Dorset Group 14 April 19: Water meadows of the Frome valley

Despite a cold easterly wind we set off from East Dorchester, Dorset's ancient county town, with 21 walkers crossing water meadows of the river Frome towards the village of Stinsford, home of Kingston Maurward College. There we visited the grave containg the heart of Thomas Hardy, Dorset's famed novelist and poet at the 14th Century Church of St Michael. Nearby is also the grave of the Poet Laureate Cecil Day Lewis who's wish was to be buried near Hardy.

Then circling north of Dorchester through many flocks of sheep on rich pastureland, passing through the hamlet of Frome Whitfield, we arrived at the village of Charminster with its many fine houses. Some of us had a picnic in the pretty churchyard of the 12th Century St Mary the Virgin church, while others chose a rustic lunch at the very friendly 'Three Compasses' pub, established in 1747 and famed for its music evenings and vintage tea room.

Once refreshed, we set off again, circling Wolfeton House, one of England's most important historic houses, passing through fields of brilliant yellow rape in full flower, heading once again for Dorchester. We re-entered the town from the west, following the river Frome again along the town's pretty backwaters, re-entering the water meadows on the east side, crossing the historic Grey's Bridge and back to our cars.

Finally we went to Andrew's house in Broadmayne for a cream tea, making a very satisfying end to a very enjoyable day

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