On a beautifully sunny September Sunday our group of 17 set off southwards over the rolling hills down into the valley of Sydling St Nicholas. Turning back before the village we followed another valley to regain the path of the Wessex Ridgeway. We paused enroute in a pretty, peaceful fold of hills to enjoy our picnics.
Having climbed to the ridge we enjoyed excellent views of the costal cliffs to the south and the Vale of Blackmore to the north. We then plunged down into Batcombe village, which seems very isolated, with just a simple parish church, it's tower as big as the nave, and a few small farms.
Along thick brambly hedgerows and the quietest lane you could find, we arrived at the secluded grounds of St Francis Friary. Here we were welcomed by Lynn the volunteer administrator and shown into a large common room with comfortable chairs where a delicious tea, cakes and scones were laid out. Lynn gave a brief explanation of the history and work of the Friary and invited us to explore the place.
The final leg of the walk was to tackle the very steep climb up the road back to the start point with a few lucky people managing to grab a lift in some stategically placed cars!