Walk: The Acorn Inn, Evershot, Dorset
Explore a deer park and follow magical woodland pathways before cosying up in a traditional British pub brimming with rustic charm in Evershot, Dorset.
The Acorn Inn is a real treat, a place you can confidently present to a loved one as a thoughtful weekend getaway.
Nestled in the pretty village of Evershot, this 16th-century former coaching inn features in three Thomas Hardy novels as ‘the Sow and Acorn’ and wears its heritage proudly. Built of faded honey-coloured local stone, the Acorn boasts a well-stocked bar, oak-panelling, flagstone floors and exceptional food, as well as 10 attractive rooms named after characters and settings in Tess of the D’Ubervilles.
Follow our mapped walking route starting and ending in Evershot in Dorset.
Lions and deer
Exit the Acorn by the front door and turn left, heading downhill. Where the road forks, keep left, heading into the Ilchester Estates. Continue on the paved road to Lion Gate, guarded by two giant stone cats, and climb over the stile on the right. The paved path wends through Melbury Park estate – look out for fallow, red and sika deer, as well as grazing sheep. Continue past the great house on your right to the far side of the park, emerging at the bottom of the village of Melbury Osmond.
Continue briefly on the road to a few pretty thatched cottages; here turn right between the cottages along a narrow bridleway. Overgrown with hanging foliage, this passage feels magical. Where the path splits, take the right-hand path under the low stone bridge, and follow the route along and over a small wooden bridge.
After the bridge, the track climbs a bank and emerges in a field with three gates on the opposite side. Take the middle gate, marked with a blue arrow, and follow this path fringed by trees as it runs between fields. Keep heading south along the path as it crosses over a paved road by Chetnole Lodge and through woodland and fields.
Home sweet acorn
As you enter a field, keep right and take the gate on your right at the end, before immediately turning left through a second gate to stay on the bridleway. This bends around to the left alongside Lucerne Lake. Follow the path past the lake, through the gate and onwards past Banger’s Moor until the road forks – here, take the right hand bridleway all the way uphill and down again until you rejoin the road that returns you to Evershot and the Acorn Inn.
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Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route.
Maria Hodson is production editor at BBC Countryfile Magazine, alongside Margaret Bartlett. Since moving to Bristol in 2014, Maria has made every effort to escape into nature and loves all things wild and watery, from surfing and swimming to paddle-boarding and kayaking. Her adventure highlight in recent years was sea kayaking around remote St Kilda, off the coast north-west Scotland, in 2016. Most weekends, however, are spent exploring the great outdoors with her small child and doing accessible walks. Favourite family adventures are bird-watching at Slimbridge Wetland Centre and exploring the Forest of Dean, as well as an annual pilgrimage to see the starling murmuration on the Somerset Levels.