Churches Path and Top Path are two halves of footpath number 5 on the Rights of Way map. A footpath, bisected by Imber Road, from St Mary’s Chancel to the far end of the village on the Tilshead Road.
Churches Path was the path used by the villagers of old between the two old Chitterne Churches, All Saints and St Mary’s, in the days when one vicar served the two congregations and services and festivals involved both churches.
The path starts on the Warminster Road alongside St Mary’s Manor, with an unpaved track leading to St Mary’s Chancel.
The path crosses St Mary’s churchyard, passing the Chancel on its north side, and heads towards a kissing gate in the far corner. Nowadays parts of Churches Path are little used as I found when I tried to walk it recently.
From St Mary’s Churchyard I exited the kissing gate in the north-east corner to enter Garston. I turned left and picked my way through fallen branches, rogue elder trees and animal workings that clutter the old avenue of lime trees marking the path.
Halfway along, the avenue is crossed by another, more clearly defined avenue, which marks the old main drive to the Great House that once stood in the Sportsfield.
At the end of the Churches avenue the path strikes out across Garston towards a gate in the corner, passes behind All Saints Manor Farmhouse, then between Chitterne Farm West barns to end at the Imber Road crossing.
Top Path continues in the same direction as Churches Path on the other side of Imber Road. The path is marked by Rights of Way signs on a telegraph pole at the crossing, but it is tricky to find the correct way through farm buildings at the start.
Eventually the path follows the edge of a field and passes behind Brook Walk, here there is a stile that has seen better days but is just about do-able, then Abdon Close gardens.
The path finally reaches the Tilshead Road over another stile at number 4, Townsend.