Through forest and farmland

Butley walk, Richard Tyson

Butley walk, Richard Tyson - Credit: Archant

Richard Tyson follows a route to a church with a fascinating history

Route of the Butley walk

Route of the Butley walk - Credit: Archant

The walk starts on a quiet lane, continues through forest and farmland to a lone church which once served a now vanished village. After the Butley River again the walk culminates by passing through part of Staverton Thicks with very ancient oak and holly trees.

Turn left out of the car park along Mill Lane and away from the B1084 road. The pretty Butley stream is on the left with forest beyond. In 20 minutes keep slightly left and soon reach Butley Mills with its fishing lake. After the Mill you can walk on a new embankment which gives good views of the reedbeds and distant tidewater of Butley Creek

Cross the B1084 and go up Pedlars Lane which is almost opposite. Ignore a path to the right. The lane is bordered by trees and soon passes a huge “veteran” oak (1) with a treehouse. In a few minutes more go straight at a crossing path (N.B. the only waymark is for the Sandlings Walk which you join here). Keep straight on passing some recently harvested forest to the left and continue to distant farm buildings beyond a dip in the route.

Turn right here (Dale Farm) and after 300 yards on the road turn left up the private road (signed as a footpath) towards lonely Wantisden Church (2) reached by turning left at the fence of the former USAF Bentwaters airfield (open 1944 to 1992). The church is constructed of flint and cragstone and has a Norman doorway but there is no sign of a village which is said to have vanished after the Black Death in the 14th Century.

Continue with the airfield on the right and pass a sizeable pond on the left; the curved roof buildings inside the fence were aircraft hangers which were claimed to capable of resisting a nuclear attack. At a waymark keep on the track through a left then a right bend still following the Sandlings Walk. After gaps in lines of trees go down a slope to over a field to a road. Turn right for 300 yards then turn left (signed to “Shepherds Cottage) then go half right towards a brick pumping station (3)

Continue past a fishing lake on the right then straight up a sandy track past a sign mentioning adders (I did’nt see any). Privately owned Staverton Thicks wonderful ancient oak trees (mentioned in Domesday Book) are seen now. When the track goes left two wooden signs indicate your path through oak and holly woodland (4) which one might guess to be a very ancient ceremonial grove, perhaps pre Christian. Finally, when the B1084 is reached turn left and walk on the grass verge to Butley village and Mill Lane.