Miles Cross – Miles Better
Miles Cross Farm, consisting of approximately 70 acres, has been farmed since the 1920s by the Barnes family although the Barnes family can trace their ancestry in farming in the Symondsbury Parish for 400 years. The site of a war-time rifle range may be seen and part of the site is now used for clay pigeon shooting. Miles Cross Farm consists of two main areas of geology. The northern part of the farm lies on Bridport Sand whereas the southern part is over Thorncombe Sand.
The habitats present on the farm area a result of man’s agricultural practices over thousands of years. Miles Cross Farm has been farmed using traditional techniques with no artificial fertiliser used for decades. Dorset notable species (species which do not fall within the criteria of the Dorset Red Data book, yet are mostly still rare in the county and are indicative of unimproved and semi-improved habitat) on the farm include Southern Marsh orchid, Trailing Tormentil, Common Bird’s Foot Trefoil and Large Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Wall Pennywort, Yellow Pimpernel, Wood Speedwell and Moschatel. Bird’s Foot Trefoil is an important food plant for the larval stages of the Common Blue Butterfly. The small withy bed on the farm has Crack Willow and Grey Willow present. Interesting bird visitors include the Pied Flycatcher, Nightingale and occasional Hoopoe.
One of the streams that run through the village originates in the Withy Bed lying beneath Colmer’s Hill, and leads into the River Simene. It was once thought that the water had healing properties and people came from miles around to bathe their eyes and were usually healed, possibly due to the iron present in the water. (mentioned in Hutchings History of Dorset)
My grandfather bought Miles Cross Farm (consisting of a cottage and 18 acres) in the 1920s after returning from WWI. Further land was acquired in 1956 when he bought Symondsbury Rectory (now The Old Rectory).