Nigel Vile takes a springtime stroll around the Marston Park Estate
The very private Marston House south of Frome, first described in 1641 when the mansion was purchased by Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, stands in over 500 acres of parkland.
During the Second World War the house and grounds were used by the US Army, whilst in 1984 the property was saved from dereliction when taken over as the headquarters of the Foster Yeoman Group.
This grade II listed building of Doulting stone was put back on the market last year with a price tag of £6m, with rumours suggesting a purchase by a single buyer.
The walk explores the parkland, giving a fine view of the grand facade that stretches for over 400 feet, as well as taking in St Leonard's Church, with the current building dating from 1789.
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The rich array of early springtime flora makes this a fine seasonal excursion, especially on a bright clear day when the views towards the wooded slopes of the Longleat and Stourhead Estates will prove particularly impressive.
Distance 3 ½ miles
Time 2 hours
Start Marston Layby just off of the A361 southwest of Frome (GR752452)
Maps OS Explorer 142 or OS Landranger 183
Terrain A flat walk other than the ascent of Cheese Hill at journey's end
Suitable for Walkers and runners.
Getting there Follow the A361 Frome Bypass all of the way around to its junction with the B3090 on the southern edge of Frome. Continue along the A361 towards the Nunney Catch Roundabout for ¾ mile before taking a left turn signposted to Marston Bigot. Immediately, turn left into a layby.
1. Return to the road leading to Marston Bigot and turn left down what is called Cheese Hill. In 1 mile, at a crossroads, take the left turn signposted to Tytherington and Frome. Continue for ½ mile to a junction where a road goes off on the right. Ignoring this right turn, keep on the main road for 250 yards before turning left through a gateway to follow a signposted footpath.
2. Walk ahead a few paces into a field before bearing half right to walk in the direction of the right hand end of Thickthorn Wood, some 350 yards distance. In 200 yards, pass through a gateway and cross a stream before heading across to a stile at the corner of the woodland. Walk across the field ahead, bearing left all the while, initially passing between a tree on the left and a clump of 4 trees to its right. Continue across the field, crossing a farm track along the way, to reach a stile and footbridge on the far side of the field, 200 yards along from the right hand corner of the field. Walk ahead across the next field, clipping its corner, to reach a stile in the fence on the far side of the field. Walk ahead a few paces to a second stile and join the road in Tytherington. Turn left and walk up past some business premises – that include a cafe called 'Love in a Cup'.
3. Just beyond this complex, turn left onto a path that runs alongside the business premises on the left. At the end of the buildings, keep ahead through a rough parking area to reach a footbridge over a ditch bearing a waymark. Continue ahead to a handgate and enter Marston Park. Walk ahead across a large area of parkland to reach an old walled garden in ¼ mile. Just to the left of this walled garden, cross a stile and follow an enclosed path along to a second stile. NB. If this path is blocked by a fallen tree, follow the obvious detour to the right of the official path. Beyond the second stile, head across the next section of Marston Park, Marston House coming into view on the right, to reach a fence on the right in 600 yards alongside Marston Church. Cross a stile in this fence to reach the church before following the drive away from the church to a lodge and the foot of Cheese Hill. Turn right to follow the road back uphill to the layby by the A361.