Wingfield: The Poplars

Extract from Pub Walks in Wiltshire by Nick Channer.

THE walk crosses farmland behind The Poplars before running along the bank of the River Frome on the Wiltshire/Somerset border. The scene by the river is quite charming. On the hill above the river there are delightful views across the vale to Somerset. The return leg is a pleasant stroll across farmland.

Wingfield is a scattered village, much of which is set back from the main B3109 Bradford on Avon road down several narrow lanes well hidden from passing traffic. North of the village, though not on the actual route of the walk, is Midway Manor, once the home of General Shrapnel, the 18th-century inventor of the exploding projectile of the same name.

The Poplars has been a pub since the early 1950s. Prior to that it was an off-licence and village shop. The whitewashed building is more than 250 years old and was originally a farmhouse. The Poplars is a quintessential English pub with all the right ingredients. The inn has its own cricket ground, an innovation introduced by a previous landlord.

How to get there: Wingfield is several miles west of Trowbridge, just to the south of the A366. Join the B3109, following the signs for Wingfield. The Poplars is on the right coming from the direction of Trowbridge or Bradford on Avon.

Parking: There is room to park at The Poplars. Wingfield village centre is on the other side of the main B3109. There is limited parking in Church Lane, particularly in the vicinity of the church.

Length of the walk: 3-and-three-quarter miles. Map: OS Explorer 143 Warminster and Trowbridge (GR 822567).

From the pub car park turn left and follow the narrow lane running alongside some cottages. When the lane peters out go forward onto a drive as waymarked. Follow it to the right of a private garage and continue on along a path between fields. At the next stile, on the right, cross over and bear left. Cross several fields via stiles and make for the road. Bear left and follow the lane with a line of cottages and houses on the right. As you begin to approach some farm buildings, cross the right hand boundary into the field. The path is waymarked. Turn left and follow the field edge, with farm buildings on the left. Keep to the path and follow it to a footbridge in the field boundary. Cross it and then head for a stile in the opposite boundary.

Walk ahead in the next field, making for the top right corner where there is a stile. Follow the track between trees to reach some water meadows. Cross them and over to the right is the fast-flowing River Frome. The river, a tributary of the Avon, represents the county boundary between Wiltshire and Somerset. In time a charming old cottage comes into view over on the Somerset bank, its gardens running down to the water's edge. Rising above it are the houses of Tellisford, a village prettily situated only just within the borders of Somerset. Look for a galvanised gate ahead beside an old footbridge.

The scene here is most picturesque, and it is worth breaking off from the walk for a few moments in order to stand on the bridge and gaze at the river upstream and down.

Returning to the walk, go up Vaggs Hill away from the Somerset border, noting a right of way on the right to Rode. Pass a house, then follow the tarmac lane between banks of trees and bushes. The lane is steep in places. Further on, the lane levels out and in a right-hand gateway there are splendid views over to Somerset on the far side of the valley. Pass a footpath on the left and continue. On the right is a turning to Langham Farm. On the left is woodland.

Pass several private properties on the right, and then a farm. The road veers slightly left and soon cuts between fields and hedgerows before reaching the junction. Cross over into Poplar Tree Lane, noting the Somerset border along to the right. Pass Dillybrook Cottage on the right and continue along the road. Glancing back across the fields, there are good views of the trees soaring above the River Frome. Walk past some cottages and when the road veers right, turn sharp left to join a bridleway to Wingfield.

Follow the broad bridleway as it runs between hedgerows, trees and bushes. There are fields either side of the way. Further on, the bridleway narrows to a path. Eventually, you reach a junction. Bear right, still on the bridleway. All around you are good views over farmland.

As the bridleway swings right, within sight of a farm, turn left over a stile in the hedge and enter the field. Follow the right-hand boundary into the corner, and then in the next corner, where there is a footbridge, cross into the next field. Proceed ahead to the far boundary and join a grassy path beside the garden of a private house. Pass several houses and follow the track as far as the B3109 road. At the junction turn right and walk along the verge and then the pavement. Church Lane on the right, leading to Wingfield Church and the village centre, is worth exploring. Returning to the B3109, cross it and turn to The Poplars car park.