The Dorset Giant, a challenge event organised by the Dorset group of the LDWA held on Saturday 13 April 2019, from Wey Valley School, Dorchester Road, Weymouth, DT3 5AN (GR SY 668 827).
The Dorset Giant is one of the three events comprising the South West Triple Challenge, the other two being the Wye Forest 50 and the Wellington Boot.
The route initially goes west though Langton Herring to Abbotsbury. It then goes over Shipton Hill and north to Loders and Mangerton before turning east to Kingcombe and Toller Porcorum and to the evening meal checkpoint at Frampton. The route then continues east to join the Cerne Valley at Godmanstone, then broadly south through Charminster and the eastern edge of Dorchester back to Broadwey.
A circular (clockwise) route of just over 56 miles, including a total ascent of nearly 6400 feet, the route description has been compiled using information from Dorset LDWA.
Section 1 – Wey Valley School to Abbotsbury 10.1 miles. Height ascent: 1018 feet.
The Wey Valley School was used as the start and finish of Dorset 100 in 2016.
Exit the school with flagpole ahead, turn right then immediately turn left over crossing (with bollards on left hand side) and ahead on pavement to main road. Turn right, then immediately turn left to cross pelican crossing. Ahead to cross over junction with Nottington Lane and ahead on pavement.
Almost opposite Broadwey House, hidden behind a high wall is The Elms. A date panel on the top half of the building records the initials J.W.S. and the date 1779.
Adjoining it to the south is Forge Cottage of the same date and on the corner of Court Road. Here too once stood a smithy and wheelwright’s shop demolished in the 1970’s for road widening and said to have dated from the mid 18th century (weymouth-dorset).
Apart from its inn sign, there is little to suggest the building to be a public house as it has little in the way of outstanding features. However, this inn has traded for a long time as The Swan and the building dates back to around the early 17th century, but with later alterations. An unusual feature is the beamed yard entrance being part of the building (weymouth-dorset).
The inn was well situated on the Weymouth to Dorchester road and catered for much passing traffic. Horse-drawn traffic passed through an archway to a yard behind where a drinking trough was situated.When the railway eventually arrived at Weymouth, passing trade dropped off. Anecdotal tales include hiding youths from the press gang that came up from Weymouth looking for “recruits” to the Navy and Charles Dickens writing to thank the landlady for sending on things he had left behind after a stay. It had a malthouse attached in the 1820s which caught fire and damaged adjoining buildings; arson was suspected and resulted in a court case (closedpubs).
In 730m turn left down Mill Street (leading to Watery Lane) with church on right hand side.
Broadwey (or Broadway) is so called because it is situated where the River Wey broadens out below Upwey. The ancient parish church is dedicated to St Nicholas (opcdorset).
The church dates in part from the 12th century with the Norman doorway on the south and the font. Other parts date from the 14th century and a window of the 15th century is in the west wall of the nave. The north aisle window to the west dates from the 16th century and the pulpit from the 17th. In 1838 the nave was extended to the boundary of the churchyard. The chancel was lengthened and the arch rebuilt between 1894 and 1896. The south aisle and the chancel aisle were added in 1902 and the Norman doorway moved further south. At the same time the gallery was removed (weymouth-dorset).
Broadwey was home to a Doctor Adam Puckett who was the Weymouth Union doctor covering a large area. Part of the area he covered was Sutton Poyntz and Preston. Here one day in July 1862 he was savagely murdered by one of his patients. His murder caused more than the usual outcry, for not only was it so brutal, questions were then raised as to why the doctor covered such a large area and for so little remuneration.
The story appeared in The Times two days later and it records that the remains were taken to the Ship Inn at Preston to await an inquest. Dr. Puckett left a widow, Elizabeth and their daughter Alice who then had the task of looking after her disabled mother. Their other children had already left home by this time.
Doctor Puckett has a gravestone in Broadwey churchyard, now much obliterated by the effects of time, the inscription read:
to the memory of
ADAM STAPLETON PUCKETT
who was murdered by a patient while
in the execution of his duty at
Sutton Pointz on the 8th day of July 1862,
in the 65th year of his age.
He was highly respected and deeply lamented
by all who knew him and was upwards
of twenty years Parochial medical officer
of the Upwey and Chickerell district.
Also of ELIZABETH ESTHER, relict of the
above who died January 6th 1865,
aged 66 years.
The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away.
It is recorded in Hutchins, History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset, that when the grave was being dug a Roman cinerary urn was discovered (weymouth-dorset).
A rather more gory account of the murder can be read at (susanhogben).
Ahead under wooden structure to turn right on road. Ahead for 200m to turn left on footpath just before railway bridge (GR 666 836).
Cross footbridge and ahead to cross stile (Weymouth and Portland Borough Council). Turn left on enclosed path and in 50m turn right (Weymouth and Portland Borough Council) on track and continue ahead through two large metal gates keeping field boundary on left.
Cross double stile in field corner and turn left, then immediately turn right on track. Ahead on track for 700m to field. Cross field (compass bearing 310) to far corner to cross stile, then cross broken stile in hedge.
Ahead (compass bearing 300) through large metal gate (stile to left). Continue ahead with field boundary on right to cross stile in corner. Continue ahead (compass bearing 280) cross field to signpost and turn left on track (signpost Upwey).
In 80m turn right at hedge end on right hand side. Continue ahead on track for 700m. Follow track as it turns right. In 30m turn left (compass bearing 270) (GR 640 840).
Cross field under power lines. Continue ahead (generally following ridgeline and passing ruined farm buildings on left hand side), through large metal gate and ahead 100m with field boundary on right (GR 631 840).
At gap turn left (compass bearing 180) on farm track downhill between fences. At bottom continue ahead uphill with field boundary on left to turn right, then in 20m turn left still with field boundary on left. Ahead downhill to cross small metal gate, footbridge, stile and small wooden gate in quick succession. Continue ahead with field boundary on left uphill through small wooden gate and cross stile to road (GR 631 831).
Tatton House is a Grade II Listed building, built in the early/mid 19th century (britishlistedbuildings)
Turn right on road for 800m to main road (B3157).
Cross road and ahead through black posts to bear left downhill across field (compass bearing 320) to go through large metal gate in hedge. Continue ahead on enclosed path around field. Bear left passing large metal gates (on both left and right hand sides) and continue uphill on enclosed track onto road at Langton Herring (GR 617 825).
The name of the village comes from the Old English ‘Lang + tun’ meaning ‘long farmstead or estate’ with the 13th Century ‘Harang’ family affix, from their time as Lords of the Manor. Literature in the church records that all the men of Langton Herring returned from both World Wars, making it one of only fourteen doubly ‘Thankful Villages’ in the country, and the only village in Dorset to be spared fatalities in the Great War (Wikipedia).
For this reason, there is no war memorial in the village but there is a horse chestnut tree planted in the centre of the churchyard in memory of Sir Winston Churchill, with a small plaque bearing the words, ‘We shall never surrender’ (dorsetlife).
Turn right on road and in 200m (opposite phone box) turn left into village passing Elm Tree Inn.
The Elm Tree, named after a tree which once stood on the site, dates back to the 16th century. It has three open plan bars, one with an inglenook fireplace and bread oven. Old photographs of the village and shipwrecks off Chesil Beach hang on the walls. One of the oak beams on the ceiling is made from a ship’s mast which in 1780 is said to have been used to hang a fisherman from after being chased through the village for lying about his catch to his fellow fishermen.
During the 18th and 19th centuries the villagers of Langton Herring took an active part in the lucrative trade in smuggled goods from France. A bricked up hole in the cellar is thought to be a tunnel used as a hiding place for illicit brandy, tea, tobacco, silks and lace and leading to the church behind the building.
During the Second World War the remoteness of the Fleet made it ideal for the covert testing of the bouncing bombs. The shallow water also meant that it was easy to recover the bombs. During this time Barnes Wallis would be a regular visitor to the Elm Tree.
In the 1960s the Elm Tree became a meeting place of the Portland spy ring. Lovers Harry Houghton who worked at the top security Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment on Portland and Ethel Gee who also worked for the MOD would sit by an oak corner settle to the right of the inglenook fireplace and drink heavily. They would then board a train to Waterloo where they met up with a KGB agent posing as US naval commander Alex Johnson and hand over parcels containing microdot film and sensitive documents, all desperately sought by the KGB at the height of the Cold War (theelmtreeinn).
The full story of the Portland Spy Ring can be read on (Wikipedia). Houghton and Gee were sentenced to 15 years in prison. They were released in 1970 and married the following year.
Ignore minor road junction on right just after pub and keep ahead (compass bearing 180) on road. In 150m turn right with road to reach Fleetway Cottage.
Go ahead (compass bearing 280) on track to right of cottage. In 150m turn right through wide gap onto metalled track and then immediately turn left and pass to left of large metal gate. Continue ahead (compass bearing 280) on track for 200m, then turn left (still on same track) to reach signpost to Langton Hive Point (GR 609 821).
Ahead (compass bearing 190) on hard track (Coastguard Road) for 1km to pass cottages and reach the Fleet Lagoon at Langton Hive Point (GR 606 813).
CLIPPER A: LANGTON HIVE POINT (SELF-CLIP)
The Fleet lagoon was formed when Chesil Beach moved onshore as the sea levels rose. In the past it was much larger than it is today. The Fleet is 13.1 km long and covers an area of 480 hectares. The width varies from 900 metres at Littlesea down to just 65 metres at The Narrows. The deepest part is in the lower Fleet where it is 4-5 metres deep. Most of the upper Fleet above The Narrows is no more than 2 metres deep.
The Fleet derives its name from the Saxon ‘fleot’, meaning shallow water.
Over 150 species of seaweed, 25 species of fish and 60 species of mollusc have been found in the Fleet. Up to 5000 Brent geese over-winter on the Fleet (chesilbeach).
Turn right through wooden kissing gate. (Note: route now follows South West Coast Path with acorn symbol to Abbotsbury). At 630 miles it is our longest National Trail stretching from Minehead to Poole.
Go around field with Fleet Lagoon on left for 600m to go through wooden kissing gate (signpost SWCP Abbotsbury).
Go ahead through field with field boundary on left and ahead through small metal gate. Ahead through field to reach double small wooden gates in field boundary on left (signpost Abbotsbury). Through gates and turn right. Ahead and cross field and cross stile. Ahead (compass bearing 350) to signpost (Abbotsbury), and through opening with stile on right. Ahead (compass bearing 335) for 300m to meet farm track at signpost. Turn right on track and cross ditch. In 20m at signpost by cattle grid (entrance to wood), leave track and ahead uphill (wood on left) to cross stile and continue ahead to hill top.
Turn left (still with wood on left) and cross stile next to horse jump. Immediately turn right with field boundary on right and continue to field corner (do not cross stile in field boundary ahead), then turn left with field boundary on right downhill to cross stile to road (GR 600 837).
Cross road and cross stile opposite. Ahead with field boundary on right to cross stile and footbridge. Continue ahead to large metal gate and stile on right hand side (signpost). Cross stile and ahead compass bearing 350) uphill to cross stile. Continue ahead almost to top of hill.
Turn left to cross stone stile in wall on left. Ahead (compass bearing 270) to cross stile opposite. Ahead on path through bushes to go through small wooden gate. (The route now generally follows a ridge line to Abbotsbury with spectacular views south to Chesil beach). Ahead (compass bearing 270) with field boundary on left to cross stone stile in wall. Continue head with field boundary on left crossing over farm track to reach stile on left next to large metal gate.
Go over stile (there is a stone waymark beyond) and continue ahead (compass bearing 270) with field boundary now on right on narrow path with steep slope on left.
Cross stile and ahead following acorn signs steeply down end of ridge to meet overgrown stone wall/fence. Turn right for 20m to corner. Turn left and immediately cross stone stile in wall on left. Turn right and continue ahead to cross stile to road (GR 579 846).
Turn right on road and in 150m turn left on minor road passing car park on right hand side and Abbotsbury Swannery entrance on left hand side.
Abbotsbury Swannery is the only managed colony of nesting mute swans in the world. The colony can number over 600 swans with around 150 pairs.
Written records of the swannery’s existence go back to 1393 but it probably existed well before that, and is believed to have been set up by Benedictine monks in the eleventh century
Abbotsbury Swannery was a filming location for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; the actual location seems to have been a reed bed, but it is unclear exactly where at the Swannery the filming occurred (Wikipedia).
To the left of the route is St Catherine’s Chapel.
Although no records survive of the chapel’s construction, the chapel has been dated in style to the late 14th century, the same time as Abbotsbury’s tithe barn was built. The chapel is built on a definite platform which could have been originally for a pagan temple. St Catherine’s Chapel was built as a place of pilgrimage and retreat by the monks of the nearby Benedictine monastery Abbotsbury Abbey, which the chapel overlooks high up on the hilltop. Its position on the top of a hill about 260 feet high, overlooking the coast meant that it was a prominent feature for seafarers. Only a handful of chapels of the same kind are located outside the precincts of the monasteries who constructed them. The isolated setting of the chapel granted the monks to withdraw from the monastery during Lent for private prayer and meditation.
In the 16th century the main abbey buildings were destroyed in the dissolution of the monasteries, but the chapel survived, most likely due to its usefulness as a coastal beacon and sea-mark.
In later times a navigation light used to be lit at the top of the stair turret. The chapel was repaired in 1742 and the late 19th century, but is largely unaltered. It is now under the care of English Heritage (Wikipedia).
Continue on track (passing cottages), which becomes a lane, to meet road. Turn left on road, with the medieval tithe barn on right hand side.
Abbotsbury Abbey tithe barn was built around 1400. It measures 272 by 31 feet and is the world’s largest thatched tithe barn. It has 23 bays, 11 of which have been unroofed since the 17th century. The 12 roofed bays are covered with thatch, though previously stone slabs were used. Part of the north wall has been destroyed. The barn is listed as Grade I (Wikipedia).
Abbotsbury from Tithe Barn. View from the Tithe Barn north towards the village. From left to right the old Dairy/Gate House on Church Street, Abbey Farm former piggery, St Nicholas church, Abbey remains and Abbey House, with the Children’s Farm play area and pond in the foreground (John Stephen, Geograph).
Immediately past barn at walled duck pond on right hand side, turn right on track (signpost car park and church), then turn left up steep tarmac footpath towards church. Turn right before church (signpost village car park) and ahead passing “Abbey House” to reach checkpoint in village car park (GR 579 852).
CHECKPOINT 1 – ABBOTSBURY (CAR PARK) TOTAL DISTANCE 10.1 miles
In the 10th century a charter of King Edmund records a granting of land at Abbedesburi, a name which indicates the land may have once belonged to an abbot.
In 1086, in the Domesday Book Abbotsbury was recorded as Abedesberie or Abodesberie. Abbotsbury Abbey existed for 500 years, but was destroyed in the dissolution. Stone from the abbey was used in the construction of many buildings in the village.
In 1664, during the English Civil War, Roundheads (Parliamentarians) and Cavaliers (Royalists) clashed at Abbotsbury. Parliamentarians besieged the Royalists in the church of St. Nicholas; two bullet holes from the fight remain in the Jacobean pulpit.
The Strangways house which had replaced the Abbey after the dissolution was also the scene of a skirmish, as the Royalist Colonel Strangways resisted the Parliamentarians, who besieged the house and burned it. The house gunpowder store exploded in the fire and the house was destroyed, together with the old abbey records which had been stored there.
In the late 17th, and early 18th centuries Abbotsbury experienced several fires, resulting in the destruction of virtually all its medieval buildings. Most of the historic secular buildings in the village today were built from stone in the 17th and 18th centuries (Wikipedia).
Section 2 – Abbotsbury to Shipton Gorge 8.9 miles. Height ascent: 1300 feet
Cross car park to north entrance and cross road (Rodden Row).
Continue ahead on Rosemary Lane, and at end turn left (Back Street). After 80m turn right on bridleway (signpost Blind Lane).
This short section of the walk coincides with the 40 mile section of the Abbotsbury-Langport Link of the Macmillan Way (LDWA).
Stay on path ignoring large metal gates on left and right to reach small metal gate. Go through large metal gate and ahead (compass bearing 320) on bridleway passing signpost. Uphill on broad green track to reach small metal gate. Go through small metal gate and ahead to large metal gate. Through and bear left (signpost Hill Fort) still on compass bearing 320.
At wooden post bear left on footpath. Through small metal gate next to large metal gate (waymark South Dorset Ridgeway).
18 miles long, the South Dorset Ridgeway is part of the South West Coast Path National Trail and was the original route to be designated (the longer coastal route around Portland was only added in 2003). Providing an inland option or a circular route if combined with the coast, it runs from West Bexington to Osmington Mills, decreasing the total distance from the coastal option of the South West Coast Path by 25 miles. Although it is some distance from the sea, it offers views of the Jurassic Coast.
The route also provides the opportunity to explore one of the UK’s most significant ancient ceremonial landscapes. The South Dorset Ridgeway has been important to local people for millennia as shown by the extraordinary number of lumps and bumps – or historic monuments – that can still be seen along the ridge. From long and bank barrows constructed around 6,000 years ago in the Neolithic period, stone circles and 4,000 year old Bronze Age round barrows, to Iron Age hillforts, the area rivals the more well known sites of Stonehenge and Avebury (LDWA).
Ahead on ridge for 1km passing under small power line with basket beacon to left (GR 562 862) to reach small metal gate (signpost) at road (GR 558 864).
Cross road and ahead up narrow path. Through kissing gate (waymark South Dorset Ridgeway) to continue along ridge passing to left of and just below trig point.
Abbotsbury Castle is an Iron Age hill fort situated on Wears Hill. It is seven miles west of Dorchester and the famous hill fort at Maiden Castle.
It is situated on a high chalk hill overlooking the English Channel, and in its day was the front line of defence from invasion. The earthworks cover an area of about 10 acres, of which about 4.5 acres are inside the ramparts.
The fort was occupied by the Celtic Durotriges tribe, but when the Romans invaded in AD 43, the second Augustian legion of Vespasian took the fort quickly with little struggle before moving on to Maiden Castle. There is no evidence that the Romans settled at Abbotsbury Castle as they did at some other hill forts (Wikipedia).
Continue ahead on ridge eventually descending to reach road and signpost (West Bexington). Cross stile and road. Through kissing gate (signpost Tulks Hill NT). Continue ahead keeping stone wall on left. At end of wall ahead (signpost West Bexington). Ahead to reach large wooden gate by road (do not go through) (GR 547 867).
From large wooden gate ahead to next signpost (W Bexington) and bear left downhill to signpost (South Dorset Ridgeway W Bexington). Turn right and ahead with scrub on left to reach small wooden gate (waymark footpath South Dorset Ridgeway). Go through small wooden gate and ahead on path between bushes and cross field (generally compass bearing 310) heading for road to stile to right of large metal gate (waymark South Dorset Ridgeway).
Cross stile to lay-by on road. Continue through lay-by (do not cross road here) (signpost South Dorset Ridgeway W Bexington) and bear left downhill on track to T junction and signpost (footpath), turn right and ahead uphill on track to road junction.
Cross road and ahead on tarmac lane for 500m (ignore first footpath on left to the Knoll) until turn left into track entrance with leaning signpost (footpath Puncknowle) (GR 537 880).
On the left is The Knoll.
The Look Out and signal station was built around 1800 and is Grade II Listed (britishlistedbuildings).
There were also three bowl barrows on the summit, two of which contained primary burials in Bronze Age urns.
During World War II, a sandbagged trench was built on the top (ancientmonuments).
In 5m cross stile to right of large metal gate. Ahead on wide enclosed farm track for 250m to reach large metal gate with stile to right (signpost footpath Knackers Hole). Through and bear right downhill for 70m with field boundary on right to reach large wooden gate with stone slab stile to right. Over stile and ahead downhill for 100m between hedges to reach stile. Cross stile and continue downhill on winding and muddy path through scrub to reach kissing gate. Ahead to T junction with track. Turn right on track and ahead to reach road at Puncknowle. This is correctly pronounced as “Punnel” (GR 534 887).
At the time of the Domesday book Puncknowle was written as Pomacanole.
Puncknowle village has a Jacobean manor house which in 1906 Sir Frederick Treves described as “one of the daintiest and most beautiful manor houses in the county”.
In the early 19th century the manor was occupied by Colonel Shrapnel, inventor of the shrapnel shell.
Puncknowle parish church, dedicated to St Mary, has a 12th-century chancel arch and west tower, though the latter was altered in 1678. The nave and the rest of the chancel were largely rebuilt at various dates in the 19th century. The church has an unusual font, composed of a Norman bowl on top of another font from West Bexington church, which French forces destroyed in the 16th century (Wikipedia).
A fire occurred at Puncknowle on 29 September 1802 and consumed twelve houses of poor families. One such person was George Walbreg (Walbridge?) who had been bed-ridden for some nine years. Terrified, the poor man was suddenly able to walk, but as he mingled with his fellow villagers nobody recognised him because he hadn’t been seen for so long (weymouth-dorset).
Turn left on road for 20m then turn right at the Old Timber Yard (overgrown signpost footpath Puncknowle Mill). Pass new houses to go through farmyard and bear right between barns, then continue down into field through small metal gate to enclosed footpath passing tennis courts (on your right). In 300m at bottom of field go through small metal gate and turn right on track. Continue 100m to road.
Turn left on road and ahead for 500m to reach T junctin (signpost footpath). Cross road to large metal gate. Go through large metal gate and down field (compass bearing 14) with field boundary on right to large metal gate in corner. Through large metal gate and turn left to cross bridge (River Bride) and go through large metal gate. Cross field (compass bearing 14) to stile in hedge. Cross stile and narrow stone bridge over deep ditch ,then cross second stile. Cross field (compass bearing 14) passing telegraph pole to reach large metal gate by left corner of small wood.
Go through large metal gate and uphill across corner of field (compass bearing 350) to short section of wooden fence in field boundary with broken waymark. Cross fence and continue (compass bearing 340) to gap in hedge in top left corner of field. Through gap, over low wooden barrier and in 5m go through small metal gate at field corner. Continue Ahead (compass bearing 340) diagonally uphill (do not bear right steeply to hill top along field boundary) to reach large metal gate in hedge (waymark footpath); do not go through. Instead turn left downhill with field boundary on right and in 20m reach large metal gate. Go through large metal gate on bridleway passing under power lines then downhill (compass bearing 290) through area of rushes and marshy ground. Continue downhill to large metal gate set in trees. Go through large metal gate and go over wooden bridge crossing stream. Continue uphill through field (compass bearing 285). Cross field to reach gap and ahead to go through large metal gate at road (GR 527 909).
In 1086 in the Domesday Book Chilcombe was recorded as Ciltecome. Parts of Chilcombe parish church date from the 12th century. The Tudor manor house was demolished in 1939 (Wikipedia).
Turn left on road and in 10m turn right at Chilcombe Farm (signpost bridleway).
Go through large metal gate then (at large wooden gate to farmhouse) turn left down track. Go through large metal gate (waymark footpath bridleway) bear right (compass bearing 320) across field to reach large metal gate in hedge. Through and ahead with field boundary on right to large metal gate and stile. Through and ahead with field boundary on right to cross stile in hedge (25m to left of corner). Immediately over second stile in hedge and ahead passing small pond on left to cross third stile. Ahead (compass bearing 300) downhill across field to left edge of small wood.
Through large metal gate and down farm track. In 100m at junction (Lower Sturthill Farm GR 522 916), turn left (compass bearing 210) on wide farm track. In 300m at junction turn right (compass bearing 260) on track and in 250m, cross small stream. (GR 518 914).
Continue on track and just before gate post (with several bridleway markers), bear right on path by small stream to go through small metal gate into copse. Ahead on muddy path to small wooden gate (bridleway). Go through small wooden gate and turn left with field boundary on left to wooden panel gate (bridleway). Go through gate into field and continue with field boundary on left to large metal gate in hedge in boggy left hand corner. Go through large metal gate and continue through second field with wood on left, to reach small wooden gate at road (signpost). (GR 510 916).
Turn left and ahead on road for 1km to crossroads.
Ahead for 240m to staggered crossroads. Turn left uphill to Shipton Gorge village hall (GR 497 915).
CHECKPOINT 2 – SHIPTON GORGE (VILLAGE HALL); TOTAL DISTANCE 19.0 miles.
In 1086, in the Domesday Book, Shipton Gorge was recorded as Sepetone. The village is named after the de Gorges family who owned the land hundreds of years ago (there is no gorge). The parish church of St Martin was rebuilt in 1862, except for its west tower which dates from around 1400.
The terrain surrounding the village is hilly. Northeast of the village is Shipton Hill, which offers good views of the surrounding countryside from its 560 feet summit. On the hill is evidence of a prehistoric settlement (Wikipedia).
Section 3 – Shipton Gorge to Toller Porcorum 12.4 miles. Height ascent: 1128 feet.
Exit checkpoint and ahead downhill to staggered crossroads (retracing steps). Turn right (retracing steps) to crossroads. Turn left uphill and in 220m reach house on right hand side. Turn right on footpath before house and ahead on enclosed stony footpath to go through dilapidated large metal gate.
Cross field (compass bearing 45) to cross stile. Cross next field same line of travel to cross stile in hedge 10m to right of large metal gate. Ahead on footpath through copse to exit over stile (waymark footpath). Cross grass and over wire fence with blue piping. Same line of travel steeply uphill with field boundary on left hand side to go through large metal gate. Bear right (compass bearing 90) with gorse on left hand side on faint path (later compass bearing 95). Through bracken and ahead with wire fence on right hand side. Follow faint footpath through bracken to go under or through wooden fence. Ahead in field (compass bearing 70) with hill still on left hand side. In 250m turn left uphill on grassy track (compass bearing 272) and continue ahead steeply uphill to cross stile. (GR 507 921). CLIPPER B: SHIPTON HILL (SELF-CLIP).
Ahead to reach trig point. Bear right (compass bearing 280) off hill top, descend steeply downhill through ferns, and after 80m turn right (compass bearing 330). Descend steeply for 20m then turn right and follow path for 50m, soon hedges on both sides, to reach concrete squeeze post. Through and descend for 300m on steep winding path. Through trees to reach road (GR 503 923).
Turn right on road for 600m passing under A35 bridge then immediately turn left uphill on minor road.
The old A35. A previous alignment is now in use as a ‘yellow’ road. Here it is joining Shipton Lane which passes under the new A35 by a bridge through an embankment (Richard Webb, Geograph).
Continue uphill 550m on road (ignore footpath on right) to turn right on track just before mobile phone masts. Follow level track between hedges for 600m to reach barn on right.
Turn left with track. Soon descend on deeply incised track for 400m to reach T junction with road at Yondover (GR 498 939).
Turn left on road for 600m passing under disused railway bridge and continue through Loders village, past school and Loders Arms.
In 1086 Loders is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Lodres,
During the reign of Henry I, Baldwin de Redvers founded a seat of a Benedictine priory at Loders. The monks were reputedly the first to introduce cider-making into Dorset.
A railway line used to pass through the village, although this has been in disuse for many years, since the closing of the Bridport to Maiden Newton branch line in 1975.
The village school was opened in 1869 on land owned by the Nepean family of Loders Court. It was originally called Lady Nepean’s School (Wikipedia).
In 30m turn right on bridleway (signpost Village Hall). Turn right up track to pass Loders Village Hall on left hand side (GR 493 943).
Ahead uphill on bridleway bearing left to road. Turn right and after 100m turn left on footpath at farm. For next 400m do not follow footpaths as shown on OS map. Note possibility of electric fences. Go up concrete farm track and bear right between caravan and house. Head (compass bearing 040) for gap in hedge, with pylon visible to right beyond. Go through gap in hedge and ahead under pylon to reach large metal gate in hedge. Go through large metal gate onto road and turn left.
After about 30m, turn left on bridleway (passing to left of house). Follow wooded track downhill for 500m (ignore tracks on left) with lake on right. Before small wooden gate, bear right down bank to cross stile, and ahead with fence on right to meet track. Turn left and ahead on track over bridge over river to road at Mangerton (GR 489 956). Turn right on road.
Ahead uphill to bear right with road. Continue on road and in 1 km reach road junction (GR 496 964). Turn left (compass bearing 330) uphill on minor lane (signpost Melplash/Beaminster). In 1 km turn left with lane and continue for 150m over stream to reach small metal gate on right (signpost footpath) (GR 494 973).
Through small metal gate into field and bear right (compass bearing 20) to small metal gate (waymark footpath) and concrete bridge over stream. Continue (compass bearing 20) to cross stile into woods at farthest end of field. Cross wooden bridge and stile (footpath).
The Ant Hill Trail is a 6 km way-marked route through the scenic landscape around West Milton, approximately 4 miles south of Beaminster. It links two Nature Reserves; South Poorton and Loscombe, and goes through meadows and pastures rich in wildflowers. The ant hills, which give the trail its name, are the nests of the yellow meadow ant. They have developed over many years and are indicators of undisturbed grassland (beaminsterramblers).
Continue through wood with river on right. Ahead on footpath to cross stile. Pass barns on left then cross stile to track to road by cottage (GR 498 979).
Turn right on road and continue to fork by stream. Turn left (marked No Through Road) and continue on road to Pear Tree Farm sign. In 10m (opposite the entrance to Nature Reserve) turn left up bridleway and in 480m reach farm.
Go through farmyard and two large metal gates, and in 5m turn right behind stone barn and follow track to large metal gate (ignoring metal gate on right). Go through large metal gate and next large metal gate on to track through wood (ignore bridleway on right). Bear left over ford to reach large metal gate. (Alternative route: if the water is too deep there is a footbridge in the wood 30 m to right; NB uneven bridge followed by boggy area. Emerge onto track immediately before large metal gate).
Go through large metal gate and ahead on track to large oak tree standing alone at junction of tracks.
Sharp turn right (compass bearing 120) on track and ahead along valley side for about 1 km, passing through two large metal gates (bridleway Jubilee Trail).
88 miles long, the Jubilee Trail was created to celebrate the RA Diamond Jubilee crossing Dorset from border to border, through quiet villages, passing old churches, historic sites and stately homes, offering extensive views of the rolling downs and secret valleys (LDWA).
After third large metal gate reach cross junction of tracks. Bear right on grassy track to large metal gate. Go through gate and continue ahead for 200m to ford stream (on concrete) and continue up steep slope to large metal gate (waymark bridleway Jubilee Trail) and into field.
Continue for 250m with hedge on left to reach steep stony path down to large metal gate (waymark bridleway Jubilee Trail). Ignore track from right and continue on track across stream and around cottage on left hand side, then tarmac road (GR 518 987).
Continue uphill on minor road. In 300m ignore footpath/bridleway on left and continue for 180m on road past bungalow on left to footpath on left opposite cottage wall.
The old parish church of St Peter in the hamlet of North Poorton is a ruin, with walls remaining to about 4 feet high. Just to the south is the new church, which is dedicated to St Mary Magdalene and was built in 1861-62. About 0.5 miles north west of the churches is a hill-fort that covers about 2.5 acres (Wikipedia).
Turn left on Jubilee Trail and go through large metal gate. With field boundary on right go to cross double stile in hedge. Cross field (compass bearing 75) to cross stile in hedge. Cross field (compass bearing 75) to cross wooden barrier in hedge (footpath Jubilee Trail). Cross field (compass bearing 75) to reach a large multi-stemmed oak tree at edge of the wood.
It is believed that this area was part of the deer park for Hooke Park. The site, just to the north of here, is designated as ancient woodland and historically comprised a deer hunting estate. There is now an educational campus here. The estate’s forestry is managed with the aim of researching new architectural applications for home-grown timbers (Wikipedia).
To right of tree look for fingerpost (Jubilee Trail) and cross wooden barrier to take path into wood. Follow winding waymarked trail through wood to cross dilapidated stile. Continue through wood on a winding path with waymark posts to cross track, ahead through conifer wood to reach road (GR 529 987).
Turn right on road (Jubilee Trail) and continue to T junction. Turn right and in 150m where road dips down take sharp turn left on bridleway (Jubilee Trail) reaching CLIPPER C : MOUNT PLEASANT (MANNED CLIP POINT) (GR 528 983).
Go through large wooden gate and up track. After 40m at waymark signpost bear left (Jubilee Trail) up track. Continue up along steeply undulating wooded ridgeline to go through small wooden gate (Jubilee Trail) into hilltop field.
Drakenorth is a prominent hill, 725 feet high, on the Jubilee Trail. Its prominence means it is listed as one of the Tumps (Wikipedia).
Ahead (compass bearing 70) through field. Continue ahead in field aiming to left of small group of pine trees at far end to reach small wooden gate in hedge (ignore large metal gate 50m to right). Through small wooden gate to road. Turn right to immediately reach Mount Pleasant road junction with signpost (GR 537 988).
Bear half right and continue ahead (compass bearing 110) on road (signpost Toller Porcorum) and in 250m (just before a large metal gate on left) turn left through small metal gate in hedge (signpost Jubilee Trail) (GR 540 988)
Turn right and follow field boundary on right for 250m to kissing gate in corner. Go through into Nature Reserve and keep ahead with field boundary on right passing concrete cattle trough to reach large wooden gate in hedge.
Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve consists of almost 450 acres of unspoilt countryside. Originally a farm, Kingcombe Meadows is now managed for conservation using traditional farming practices. The site is grazed by organic cattle and sheep. The diversity of habitats and wildlife to be found at Kingcombe Meadows make the reserve a wonderful resource for studying natural processes and the environment (countrysideclassroom).
Go through then ahead with wire fence on right to large wooden gate. Through and ahead with field boundary (wire fence) on right to second large wooden gate (Jubilee Trail). Bear left downhill on grassy track to gap in corner of the field. Through and at waymark bear left on permissive path (leaving Jubilee Trail). Continue ahead down open field (compass bearing 49) passing stone monument on right, through next gap.
Memorial to Richard Jennings, who was instrumental in securing the acquisition of Lower Kingcombe Farm in 1988 for conservation by Dorset Wildlife Trust, now Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve (Hugh Craddock, Geograph).
In 300m reach bottom right corner of field with large wooden gate and stile. Go through gate and turn left (rejoining Jubilee Trail) and continue down to road at Kingcombe (GR 553 990). Ahead down road and in 200m pass Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve buildings.
Cross small bridge (River Hooke) and as road bends left (just past house on right), turn right on a stony farm track (Jubilee Trail). In 200m bear right at fork in track (signpost bridleway Jubilee Trail ). Ignore field gates and side paths and continue for 400m on a stony track (almost a stream bed) to reach large metal gate into field. Go through gate and continue ahead (compass bearing 150) on faint grassy track through field to go through two large metal gates (Jubilee Trail).
Continue ahead on enclosed track to large metal gate and farm entrance. Continue ahead and through large wooden gate on tarmac farm drive to cross bridge (River Hooke) by houses to reach road (GR 562 982).
The old corn mill, just off the Kingcombe Road, has long been closed, though just opposite it you can see the old furrowed water meadows, which were controlled with sluices and flooded during the winter months to improve the pasture and keep it frost-free for early grazing (tollerporcorum).
Turn left on road and in 25m turn right through gates on to byway (signpost). Go up gravel track to reach road. Turn right and in 45m turn left into Church Mead (signpost Village Hall) and continue ahead past bungalows for 100m to reach checkpoint in Toller Porcorum Village Hall (GR 561 980).
CHECKPOINT 3 – TOLLER PORCORUM (VILLAGE HALL) TOTAL DISTANCE 31.4 miles
The name Toller comes from the old name of the river (possibly named after a daughter of the Saxon king Ethelred the Unready who reigned 978-1016), and is also seen in Toller Down, Toller Whelme, Toller Fratrum, and Tollerford, meaning river in a steep valley. The river name seems to have been changed to the Hooke around the 15th century.
‘Porcorum’ is Latin for ‘of the pigs’, and either comes from the large number of pigs that were once farmed here in earlier days, or possibly from the presence in the area of wild boar, which were hunted by King John around Powerstock forest. The village has also been known as Swynestolre, Hog Toller, and Great Toller (compared with Little Toller – Toller Fratrum).
The hillside above the village shows many examples of strip lynchets, the borders of old Celtic fields, but the area has clearly been occupied far longer, for example a polished flint axe was found in the village in 1996, and the chalk pit on Whitesheet Hill was found to have been used for pre-Roman burials.
To the south-west is the large Iron Age hill fort of Eggardon Hill, which was probably captured by the Romans during their invasion of 43AD. On each ridge, north and south of the village, are Roman roads.
There have been stories of ghost legions seen marching along the Eggardon-Dorchester road, which prove an interesting contrast with UFOs which were apparently seen in the same place by an ex-Battle of Britain pilot some 40 years ago. Certainly there are still inhabitants of Toller who are reluctant to drive past Eggardon Hill at night!
Toller Porcorum has never been much noticed by the famous, but at the end of the 19th century, the Georgian house opposite the entrance to the churchyard in School Lane became the home for several years of the celebrated Pre-Raphaelite painter, William Holman Hunt, and there is even a somewhat doubtful story that when he repainted his celebrated ‘Light of the World’, which was hung in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, in 1904, he used the door of Toller Church as a model for the door on which Jesus is knocking (tollerporcorum).
The Bridport branch railway line survived the cuts of the 1960s, but was closed down in 1975, and the saw mill that depended on it lasted only another ten years. The railway station itself was removed and rebuilt on the Dart Valley Railway in Devon. Parts of the old railway track are now permissive paths, open to public access, and make a pleasant walk through the countryside.
Toller Porcorum is another Thankful Village, for it lost no service personnel in World War Two. To commemorate this fact, a pair of bells were hung in the church tower, one carved with the word ‘Peace’ and the other with ‘Thanksgiving for Mercy’ (britainexpress) .
The village pub was the Old Swan.
The original picturesque thatched building burned down in 1903, and the present structure was built to replace it – the mosaic swan, high on its wall visible to all who drive down Toller Lane. The pub stayed open until 1998, when it closed within two weeks of the last village shop. It has remained unused ever since. Palmers Brewery, that owns the building, applied for planning permission to knock the pub down and build houses, but in 2000 after a public enquiry conducted in the village hall, and featuring intense involvement by many villagers, Palmers were refused permission for a change of use. The brewery has refused to sell the building as a public house, despite enquiries, and the building is now derelict (tollerporcorum).
Section 4 – Toller Porcorum to Frampton 6.3 miles. Height ascent: 875 feet.
From Toller Porcorum to Wynford Eagle the route follows the Jubilee Trail.
From front door, turn right around village hall and follow enclosed footpath through barrier to road. Turn left through village passing minor road to church on left to reach road junction (signpost Hooke) and continue ahead on road (signpost Maiden Newton and Dorchester) for 50m to reach footpath on right, just after ”road liable to flooding sign” (GR 564 979).
Through squeeze-stile next to large metal gate and cross field to small metal gate (Jubilee Trail). Bear right across disused railway line and immediately down bank to large metal gate and cross stile. Bear left across field (compass bearing 130) to field corner. Cross gated footbridge and turn right across field (compass bearing 175) to go through metal kissing gate in hedge. Bear left across field (compass bearing 132) to go through kissing gate in field corner. Immediately go through dilapidated large metal gate (four way signpost Wynford Eagle 11/2) and cross footbridge. Ahead (compass bearing 132) diagonally uphill through field to cross stile in field corner. Continue ahead (compass bearing 130) across field to go through large metal gate (Jubilee Trail).
Ahead (compass bearing 130) across field to brow of hill and descend to double large metal gate (Jubilee Trail). Continue ahead (compass bearing 130) uphill to go through kissing gate in hedge (Jubilee Trail). Cross steps to footbridge over ditch and cross track to go through kissing gate. Ahead (compass bearing 130) across field to cross stile in hedge. Ahead (compass bearing 133) descending across field to cross narrow plank footbridge over small stream. Continue ahead (compass bearing 133) for 30m to go through large metal gate. Ahead (same line of travel) steeply uphill for 110m to small waymark post on edge of wood. Ahead into wood for 10m to cross stile (waymark Jubilee Trail) (GR 574 966).
Turn right with wire fence on right for 10m and turn left (waymark Jubilee Trail) on path out of wood. Continue (compass bearing 146 trending to compass bearing 170) steeply uphill (very faint path) through rough grass for 100m. Go through gap in bushes uphill (compass bearing 140) for 150m (faint path) to end of right hand wood on skyline, soon with field boundary on right to reach small metal gate by signposts. Turn right in front of small metal gate through wide gap and immediately turn left (compass bearing 120) with field boundary on left for 150m to first tree in hedgerow. Bear right and descend cross field (compass bearing 160) for 200m to reach valley bottom, then bear left (compass bearing 130) for 200m to reach large metal gate and road, where turn left.
Pass Village signpost (Wynford Eagle) and later pass cottages and small church on right to reach road junction at Wynford Eagle (GR 584 960).
The village was recorded as Wenfrot in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as Wynfrod Egle in 1288. The name Wynford derives from the Celtic wïnn and frud, meaning a white or bright stream. The affix Eagle derives from the 13th-century manorial L’Aigle family (de Aquila, del Egle).
Wynford Eagle parish contains barrows, and Roman remains have been unearthed here, including mosaic pavements, which have led to its identification as a villa site.
The small church of St. Lawrence was rebuilt in 1840, re-using elements from its 15th century predecessor, which was situated 500 yards to the south.
Rebuilt in 1630, the Manor House (now Manor Farm) has an impressive west facade topped by a large stone eagle.
It was the home of the Puritan Sydenham family in the 16th and 17th centuries, the most famous of whom was Oxford graduate Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689), hero of the Civil War and Father of English Medicine, and the most scandalous of whom was William Sydenham, who died in Dorchester Prison in 1709 after masterminding a lottery scam to ease his financial difficulties (opcdorset).
There is an unrecorded standing stone situated on the left of the entrance to Manor Farm, just inside the yard. It is unlikely that this sarsen stone is in its original position is unlikely. A ‘sensitive’ who delved into the history of this settlement thought that the stone may have been used as an altar in rituals and originally would have been standing by a chambered tomb, presumably a long barrow. Early in the 18th century this stone was probably taken from its position on the hillside and placed in the farmyard (rovingpress).
Cross road and through small wooden gate by signpost and ahead uphill on track between buildings for 200m to reach fork in track (chalk pit face ahead). Turn right uphill on a wide enclosed track. At end of fence on right continue gently uphill ahead (compass bearing 170) through field with power line and field boundary on left. After 200m pass barn on your right and continue ahead (compass bearing 185) for 200m with hedge on left. At end of hedge, turn left (compass bearing 110) across field and in 150m through gap in hedge by large metal gate to reach Greenford Lane (GR 589 953).
Turn right on road for 600m (passing farm buildings behind hedge on left) to reach bridleway on left by barn (GR 588 947). (Signpost on right in hedge) turn left through large metal gate by barn and continue ahead (compass bearing 075) with field boundary on left on rutted track for 250m to field boundary corner (do not go through gap in hedge).
Turn right (compass bearing 140) and continue still with field boundary on left to pass stile on left (do not cross). Continue (compass bearing 150) now with wood on left. At end of wood continue ahead (compass bearing 150) across field to reach small metal gate by barn (GR 593 943).
Go through small metal gate to turn left on track (compass bearing 085) and continue ahead for 500m with field boundary on left (passing through large metal gate) to reach next large metal gate and signpost. Go through small metal gate on left hand side to signpost Notton 1 1⁄4 after 5m. With field boundary on left continue ahead (compass bearing 0) downhill to go through large metal gate. Continue ahead (with field boundary still on left) descending for 100m to reach large metal gates (do not go through gates), (GR 599 946).
Turn right (compass bearing 110 at first) descending on grassy track to valley bottom. (Southover Bottom – dry chalk valley). Continue ahead for 2km along curving valley bottom on grassy track passing through three large metal gates.
Continue ahead to reach large metal gate with small metal gate to side (GR 619 950). Go through small metal gate and turn right on stony track, soon becoming tarmac road into Southover. Ahead on road for 500m passing houses and cottages to reach minor road junction. Turn left downhill on road and continue for 300m over bridge (River Frome) to reach main road (A356) at Frampton.
Turn left on pavement and continue for 150m to reach checkpoint in Frampton Village Hall (GR 623 951) TOTAL DISTANCE – 37.7 miles
Frampton’s name is a derivation from “Frome Town”.
Roman tessellated pavements have been found at Frampton, depicting one of the earliest known Christian symbols in England.
In 1704 Robert Browne built Frampton Court in the vicinity of the village. In the nineteenth century the Game Laws, which govern English field sports, were drafted at the Court.
Many of the cottages in the village are from the Frampton estate. Around 1840 the owner of the Court demolished many houses in the village (on the south side of the main road) and replaced them with trees, to improve the view from the Court. Frampton Court itself was demolished in 1935 (Wikipedia).
Section 5 – Frampton to Charminster 8.0 miles Height ascent: 1066 feet.
Return to road and cross. Turn right on pavement and after 300m turn just before church into Church Lane.
The church is Grade I Listed. Originating from the 15th century, the west tower was rebuilt in 1695 by Robert Browne, who later added north aisle and vestry. Extensive restorations and rebuildings were carried out during the 19th century (britishlistedbuildings).
Continue on lane uphill over railway for 700m to main road (A37 Picketts Cross). Cross to minor road (opposite garage) and continue on road downhill for 500m to road junction (GR 636 957).
Turn right on road and over bridge. In 30m turn left (bridleway) into farm entrance (Langford Farm Entrance).
Ahead on tarmac farm track passing between cottage on right hand side and barns on left hand side to reach small metal gate by large metal gate. Go through small metal gate and ahead on grassy track (compass bearing 60) along open valley bottom.
On the right is the Celtic settlement on Grimstone Down. This consists of traces of Celtic fields covering more than 100 acres near the centre of this area, between the field-banks, several hollowed tracks converge on a series of smaller enclosures which indicate the position of the main settlement. As well as the Celtic settlement there are a number of Bronze Age barrows (Wikipedia).
In 220m continue on track as it bends left (compass bearing 10) and in 100m find waymark post at end of fence on left. From waymark, bear right (compass bearing 50) gradually uphill for 150m to reach small wooden gate (waymark) Ignore large metal gate to right.
Go through small wooden gate and ahead on footpath through small plantation to reach track. Bear left to go through wide gap in hedge. Turn left with field boundary on left. At field corner do not go through small gate ahead. Turn right uphill with field boundary on left. In 250m turn left through small metal gate in field boundary and continue uphill on grassy track (compass bearing 060) to meet good farm track from left. Continue ahead on track to top of hill, and at second large metal gate on left, turn left through gate (signpost with waymark Cerne Valley Trail in hedge on left hand side) onto enclosed track.
26 miles long, the Cerne Valley Trail is a circular route taking in the villages and hamlets of Minterne Magna, Cerne Abbas, Nether Cerne, Godmanstone, Forston and Charminster. The route follows the course of the River Cerne, from near its source in the basin formed by the hills of High Stoy and Dogbury to its confluence with the Frome, in the water meadows below Charminster.
The eastern arm of the route parallels the river closely, exploring the rich and varied habitats along this chalk stream, visiting Forston and Godmanstone and Cerne Abbas, to pass below the Cerne Giant, Britain’s largest hill figure cut in the chalk. The Minterne Valley is landscaped in the manner of Capability Brown and home to the Churchill family. Continuing below Hillfield Hill Local Nature Reserve – this reserve contains a small remnant of rare chalk heath – the Trail returns between chalk hills via Charminster (LDWA).
Continue ahead (compass bearing 10) for 620m. When main track bears right downhill continue ahead through large metal gate (Cerne Valley Trail) for 370m to reach large metal gate (Cerne Valley Trail). Go through and now with field boundary on right, continue ahead for 300m passing to left of signpost to reach large metal gate by small wooden gate. Go through and ahead (compass bearing 340) for 220m to approach stone memorial cairn (Harriet’s memorial cairn).
Turn right with field boundary, just before cairn. Go through small wooden gate in corner of field and turn right following grass track on edge of field. Ahead downhill (compass bearing 90) with field boundary on right through three fields to large wooden gate and main road (A352) (GR 668 978).
Cross road and ahead on path (bridleway) through trees. Cross two bridges reaching CLIPPER D: ON 2ND BRIDGE (SELF-CLIP) (GR 669 978) and turn right in field.
Ahead past first signpost on left hand side (Godmanstone) and second signpost on right hand side (Forston) to go through large metal gate. Ahead 150m to second large metal gate and stile by barn and ahead to third large metal gate and stile. Cross stile and bear left uphill between wooden fence on either side of the path to reach kissing gate. Through gate (signpost Forston) and same line of travel uphill for 75m to join wider grassy track from left. Turn right on track uphill to large wooden gate (GR 668 966).
Godmanstone is a small village to the right of the route. The name means ‘farm or estate of a man called Godman’ from an Old English personal name and ‘tun’ for farm or estate. There have been campaigns to have the last ‘e’ in the name removed, but none have been successful so far. Then again, the present spelling already has two fewer ‘e’s than the twelfth century ‘Godemanestone’.
Godmanstone’s main claim to fame comes from the second King Charles. As the story goes, he stopped at the smithy to have his horse re-shoed and asked for a glass of porter. The blacksmith apologised and told him he could not serve him alcohol as he did not have a licence. King Charles II granted him a licence there and then by Royal Charter. For years this charming pub (The Smiths Arms), only 11 feet 9 inches by 15 feet, with a low, sloping ceiling a mere 6 feet 2 inches at its highest point, was in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain’s smallest pub. Then in 1982 the landlord of the Nutshell at Bury St. Edmunds challenged the claim. The matter was settled with home and away football matches, which the Nutshell won, the prize being the entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
Go through gate and turn right. Bear right downhill (compass bearing 220) and through large wooden gate. Ahead with field boundary on left to meet high wire fence around plantation. Follow plantation fence gently downhill towards bottom corner and continue now following low fence 40m to field corner and left hand large metal gate. Through and ahead on Cerne Valley Trail with field boundary on right for 300m to join River Cerne on right and reach large wooden gate. Go through gate by house on left hand side and ahead on driveway to bear right through large wooden gate and over bridge to reach main road at Forston, A357 (GR 664 958).
Turn left on main road for 320m to turn left at farm entrance (signpost Herrison) (GR 664 956). Over bridge and bear right through double large metal gates, then bear right between farm buildings. Turn right immediately past large barn on right hand side. Ahead through large wooden gate and ahead on path with field boundary on left to large metal gate. Through and continue ahead on footpath through small wood to field (GR 668 952).
Cross field (compass bearing 154) to end of thin hedge on left hand side (waymark footpath). Continue (compass bearing 120) to hedge. Go through hedge to small wooden gate and ahead with field boundary on right to kissing gate. Ahead to second kissing gate. Ahead on tarmac road with houses on left hand side for 250m to meet road (GR 677 943).
To the left of the route was situated Herrison Hospital.
The name Herrison can be traced back to the time of Henry ll (1154 to 1189) when the tract of land on which the hospital stood came into the possession of one Terri Haereng, as part of his wife’s dowry. It later appeared as Herengston, Herringstone, and then Herrison.
The first mental hospital in this area was at Forston, about a mile north from here, where, in 1827 Francis John Browne of Frampton offered the county authorities his mansion and seven acres of land as “an asylum for the benefit of pauper lunatics”, together with the sum of £4000 for its endowment. Prior to this date no provision was made by the county for the mentally afflicted. For those whose relatives could afford it, licensed madhouses existed, run by private persons. The offer was gladly accepted and after modification, the Forston House Asylum was opened in 1832 with 65 patients.
In 1860, after various extensions, Forston was considered unsuitable for further expansion, and 55 acres of land were acquired at Herrison for a new asylum.
In 1863 the new County Asylum at Herrison was, after some difficulty (the first builder having gone bankrupt), ready for occupation with 300 beds. The first 15 patients moved in from Forston in October of that year. These presumably had the job of preparing for the others. Much of the furniture, including iron and wooden beds, was made by the male patients at Forston in readiness for the move. The building was compact and well designed, with the entrance and working departments to the north, and the main wards jutting out to the south on either side of the communal recreation room and chapel, with an open view across the country towards Dorchester. The female wards were in the eastern half of the building and the male wards on the west, while the central area contained the kitchen and the stores. A corridor connected the west wing with the superintendent’s house.
Early pictures of the hospital show it sitting on a bleak, bare hillside. The first avenue of trees which we see today were planted by this first generation of patients, who also laid out the first terraces of gardens. Records show that at this time some three-quarters of all patients were fully employed. This was not slave labour, but had a definite therapeutic purpose, although admittedly it helped to relieve the burden on the local rates. An honest attempt was made to employ patients in jobs which they preferred, or which would appear to be of benefit to them.
Many of the men, being farm labourers, were employed in the farm and garden. Others made boots, shoes and clogs for the asylum, Dorset County Hospital, and the local gaol, and carried out all footwear repairs for these three institutions. The women were mainly employed in the laundry, in cooking and cleaning, and making and repairing the men’s underclothing and almost the whole of their own clothing and household linen. They also made dolls and woven straw articles.
Further expansion was necessary, and in 1895 the present female wing was completed, and the remaining patients transferred from Forston House.
Also in 1895, Electric Light was introduced – one of the first installations in the country. The same plant continued in operation until about 1955, when it was removed to a place of honour in the Science Museum of South Kensington.
Between 1904 and 1914 further expansions took place, mainly on the female wing. During the First World War patients were received from other districts and the numbers rose to 1165. This over-crowding took its toll with a high death rate from typhoid, dysentery, tuberculosis, and influenza.
The Hospital finally closed its doors on 10 January 1992 and the whole site was left empty until in July 1996 when outline planning permission was granted for re-development (charltondownvillagehall).
Cross and ahead on driveway with houses on left hand side. In 150m continue ahead on very narrow and enclosed footpath to kissing gate. Ahead with field boundary on right. Ahead past animal shelter to small wooden gate next to large metal gate (Cerne Valley Trail) and into field. Continue ahead on level for 100m (with slope and bushes on right), then descending gradually (compass bearing 180). Bear right with path (compass bearing 234) to valley bottom (GR 678 938).
In 50m bear left on faint path (compass bearing 180) cross rough field and in 300m pass house on right hand side with gable (GR 680 935).
Immediately after house turn right down through small wooden gate and turn left on narrow tarmac lane (signpost Charminster). Continue ahead for 800m and as lane turns sharp left (GR 681 927) turn right down Mill Lane. Continue ahead past houses on left hand side to cross footbridge over river and bear left.
Charminster – the new bridge over the River Cerne. The road had been closed after severe damage during the floods of the winter 2013/2014 (Becky Williamson, Geograph).
Through small wooden gate and immediately turn right on path through churchyard with church on left hand side to reach small wooden gate.
A Saxon church minster was on or near where the church is today first in the 8th century giving 1,200 years of Christian church in this place. It has been suggested that the Saxon church was nearer North Street because there is some evidence that the river bed was where the church is today. Possibly originally a wooden building, but possibly in stone similar to the church at Studland.
In the 11th century a little new church was built where the church now stands. There was a nave and two small transepts in the Norman style. There could have been a small tower and a chancel but all that remains is the arch and wall at the east end.
This was replaced by a larger church and chancel with two narrow side aisles similar to the present aisle near the vicar’s vestry.
In the 14th century the Trenchards of Wolfeton House built the chapel on the south side of the church possibly as a chantry.
About the year 1500 Sir Thomas Trenchard caused the erection of the tower and the two vestries, but shortly after the time of the Reformation the chancel was demolished and a window placed in the archway with a low stone wall. No altar just a communion table in the nave and a new chancel was built slightly smaller than the original chancel (stmarys-charminster).
Go through and ahead up narrow lane past houses to reach main road (A352). Turn left on pavement for 50m to reach road junction and checkpoint in Charminster Village Hall (GR 678 927) TOTAL DISTANCE – 45.7 miles
It is one of the oldest halls in the county, dating from 1877. It was the driving force of Mr. Albert Bankes of Wolfeton House that raised the necessary money, by public subscription, to build the first part of the hall, facing on to West Hill. It was to be a Working Men’s Institute, an alternative to drinking in the alehouses (charminstervillagehall).
The village name derives from the River Cerne and the small ‘minster’ church of St Mary, resulting in “Cerneminster” (recorded in 1223), which eventually evolved into Charminster (Wikipedia).
Charminster is a small village full of delightful traditional cottages and possesses a typical Old English feel. It has two pubs and a superb Norman church, St Mary’s, which is unusually situated directly over the River Cerne.
Wolfeton House was the home of the Trenchards from 1480 until the late 18th century and the allegedly haunted house is now a well known visitor attraction.
In 1960 a Roman mosaic pavement was unearthed in the village, which strengthens its historical connections with neighbouring Dorchester which was a major capital city in Roman times (visit-dorset).
Section 6 – Charminster to Max Gate 2.9 miles Height ascent: 149 feet.
Exit village hall and turn right down West Hill to pass church on left hand side and continue on road over bridge (River Cerne). Ahead uphill on road passing cottages and in 50m (just after passing wide drive entrance and gate piers on right hand side) turn right onto enclosed footpath (sign Wolfeton Lane) between house and wall (GR 680 927).
Ahead on footpath through metal kissing gate and continue on enclosed footpath for 80m through second metal kissing gate. Ahead on enclosed footpath for 100m and over cross track to footpath (signpost Lower Burton).
To the right of the route is Wolfeton House, a Grade I Listed building, parts of which date back to the 15th century. although it has been suggested that the Romans were present on the site.
The house has a three floored tower on the south side, with the topmost stage build in approximately 1862. West of the tower the wall was built in 16th century and leads to the octagonal garderobe tower.
Inside the house is oak panelled and includes an extensive collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean carvings, including those of Roman Soldiers and a figure of a Briton brandishing a club. The main staircase of stone is believed to be unique, built in 1580 with carved figures in the balustrade. The Great Chamber’s floor is original and dates to the 16th century, whilst the fireplace is carved with figures including a Native American (Wikipedia).
Ahead with wire fence on right to go through small wooden gate (signpost Cerne Valley Trail and Lower Burton). Turn right (ignore large metal gate on right) into field (compass bearing 130) and continue with line of trees and field boundary on right to reach two small wooden gates in field corner by small stone building (GR 683 921).
Go through gates and ahead (compass bearing 130) cross open field to small wooden gate. Ahead between farm buildings and ahead on tarmac drive and in 75m reach main road (GR 687 917). Turn right to pedestrian controlled crossing and cross road. Turn right on marked cycleway to pass Sun Inn.
The church dedicated to St. Nicholas was destroyed by 1549 (british-history).
Continue on cycleway over wooden footbridge and in 100m cross tarmac drive. Continue ahead on cycleway over second wooden footbridge and in 100m reach path junction. (The road bridge over the River Frome is visible just ahead on right) (GR 689 912).
Turn left still on path/cycleway with River Frome on right for 200m and over wooden footbridge. Turn right (signpost Frome Valley Trail) and in 100m turn left (after small sluice gate mechanism and pond on left).
The Frome Valley Trail, 16 miles long at present, is a long distance route following the River Frome from Evershot to Dorchester. It will eventually extend to Poole Harbour. Its final length will be 43 miles from its source at Evershot to its mouth (LDWA).
River Frome Millstream and Dorchester Prison. Up above the river on the left is the old gate to the prison which is difficult to see due to its elevation. It is here that public executions used to take place with the crowds gathered below (Nigel Mykura, Geograph).
Dorchester Prison cost £18,000 to build and was completed in 1795. It was built on the site of the old medieval castle built in 1154 but disused from about 1290. The prison was formally closed in December 2013 (dorchesterdorset).
Elizabeth Martha Brown, née Clark, was the last woman to be publicly hanged in Dorset. She was executed outside Dorchester Prison after being convicted of the murder of her second husband, John Brown, on 22 July 1856, just 13 days earlier. The prosecution said she had attacked him with an axe after he had taken a whip to her.
Among the crowd of 3,000–4,000 who watched the hanging of Brown was the English novelist, Thomas Hardy, 16 years old at the time, standing close to the gallows. He wrote 70 years later that he was ashamed to have been there. Brown was dressed in a long, black, silk dress. A cloth was placed over her head, but as it began to rain, her face became visible again. Hardy wrote, “I saw—they had put a cloth over the face—how, as the cloth got wet, her features came through it. That was extraordinary. I remember what a fine figure she showed against the sky as she hung in the misty rain and how the tight black silk gown set off her shape as she wheeled half-round and back”.
Blake Morrison writes that the hanging of Tess in Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles reflected his experience of watching Brown’s death.
In 2016, it was reported that remains unearthed at the site of Dorchester prison may belong to Brown. In 2018 it was reported that she may be re-buried with others in the Poundbury Cemetery, should she not be buried in the churchyard at Blackdown, where her husband’s remains lie (Wikipedia).
Continue on tarmac path (always with river on right) for 400m to go through metal barrier to main road in Dorchester (GR 695 908).
NOTE: the next part of route is through urban Dorchester until Max Gate.
Cross road with care and turn left on pavement for 10m and bear right through metal barriers and ahead on footpath with mill stream on right (passing LOTT & WALNE LTD sign on building to right).
The Lott & Walne foundry in Dorchester dates from the early 19th century. Amongst other things the foundry produced much of the ironwork (drain covers etc) in the town and a few still carry this name. Lott & Walne were described as engineers, ironfounders and agricultural implement manufacturers. They traded at least over the period 1899-1955. Among the things they made were village water pumps (historicengland).
When footpath becomes minor residential road continue ahead (still with stream on right) to reach main road, B3143, (GR 700 906).
Turn right on pavement, over river and passing wall of cemetery on right, reach mini roundabout. (One Stop shop on LHS). Cross road to One Stop shop and bear left on road slightly uphill, crossing minor road, to reach a second mini roundabout. Bear left uphill (Alington Road) and immediately cross road using island. Continue uphill on pavement crossing railway bridge and ahead to reach main road roundabout (GR 703 899).
Cross over Buckingham Way and continue ahead on Alington Avenue. Ahead and as passing over road bridge above Dorchester bypass (A35) cross road. At end of bridge by metal railings and blue/white cycle sign, turn left to manned clip point outside National Trust property, former home of Thomas Hardy, novelist and poet. (GR 704 898).
MAX GATE (MANNED CLIP POINT WITH DRINKS) TOTAL DISTANCE – 48.6 miles
Max Gate was designed and built by Thomas Hardy for his own use in 1885 and he lived there until his death in 1928.
Hardy had purchased one and a half acres of land to build the house and was delighted to find Roman relics on the land. The building work was done by his father, who was a builder, and his brother. The name of the house was a pun on the name of a nearby toll-house known as “Mack’s Gate” after a previous gate-keeper, Henry Mack.
Originally Hardy’s house had two rooms downstairs with two rooms above, but Hardy soon found this insufficient for his needs and the house was expanded in 1895, with further additions following. He used three different rooms as studies at different periods of his life. Wanting privacy, Hardy planted a thousand pine trees round the house as a windbreak. In time these grew so vigorously that the house was rendered dark and gloomy, and his second wife, Florence, removed them after his death.
It was here that he wrote Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure and The Mayor of Casterbridge, as well as much of his poetry.
In 1940, Hardy’s sister Kate left the house to the National Trust with the stipulation that it should be lived in. The house has been continually occupied since then.
It was first opened to the public in 1994 with restricted access and limited opening times for a few days a week.
Beginning in 2011 the National Trust opened all three floors of the house to the public. The house contains several pieces of Hardy’s furniture, although his study has been relocated to the Dorset County Museum.
Half of the 100m diameter Neolithic interrupted ditch enclosure known as Flagstones is under the grounds of Max Gate; the other half was archaeologically excavated in 1987 prior to the construction of the Dorchester bypass (Wikipedia).
Section 7 – Max Gate to Wey Valley School 7.5 miles Height ascent: 852 feet.
Leave Checkpoint to left, along small road passing wall to Max Gate. At junction with Syward Road, cross, and ahead to Came View Road, then cross road, to follow tarmac footpath to main road at roundabout (A352, signed Wareham and Broadmayne). Cross using traffic island. Ahead for 5m along grass verge to bridleway (signpost Winterborne Came). Ahead down bridleway through trees to pass through gate posts into field.
The next part of the walk coincides with a section of the Hardy Way.
217 miles long, it leads through beautiful Dorset and Wiltshire countryside: woodland, high ridgeways, sleepy villages, a variety of farmland, river valleys and dramatic coastal scenery along Dorset’s famous Jurassic coast.
It explores the Wessex of Thomas Hardy, visiting many Hardy locations beginning at his birthplace near Dorchester. It takes in the Piddle and Frome valleys, an outstanding stretch of coast between Lulworth Cove and the Encombe Valley, to Corfe Castle and Dorchester, ending in Stinsford churchyard where his heart lies buried (his ashes were interred at Westminster Abbey).
In 1998, at an opening ceremony at Max Gate, the Way became a county footpath and, with the help of the Ramblers Association, was waymarked with distinctive green and white discs (LDWA).
Continue ahead descending with field boundary on left hand side for 300m. As path begins to rise follow it uphill through bushes to reach gap in hedge into field. Ahead uphill (compass bearing 180) with field boundary and trees on left to go through sma;; metal gate into wood signpost W Came 1⁄2) (GR 705 892).
Ahead (compass bearing 170) through wood on broad track to exit wood on wide grassy downhill track. In 400m reach small wooden gate by large wooden gate and minor road (GR 706 886).
Cross road, then ahead on tarmac drive through gate posts and over small stone bridge to immediately reach three way junction.
On the right of the route is the settlement of Winterborne Came. It derives its name from the seasonal stream (‘winterborne’) by which it is sited, and from the town of Caen in France, as it was once owned by the Abbey of St. Stephen there.
The parish consists of Came House, built in 1754 in the Palladian style, the nearby Perpendicular St. Peter’s Church, a couple of farms, and an old rectory on the Dorchester to Wareham road, where for 25 years the Dorset dialect poet William Barnes lived when he was the incumbent rector. Barnes died in the rectory and is buried in the churchyard. He wrote over 800 poems, some in Dorset dialect, and much other work, including a comprehensive English grammar quoting from more than 70 different languages.
About 100 metres west of the church is the site of the deserted village of Winterborne Farringdon, which has been depopulated since at least the 18th century (Wikipedia).
Turn left with waymark on stony track (bearing right with trees on right hand side and field boundary on left hand side). In 150m go through open gate and in 60m at signpost, turn right continuing on track and joining the Jubilee Trail. In 700m at signpost on left hand side, turn left continuing on Jubilee Trail (GR 703 877).
Ahead on grassy track. In 300m at end of trees on right, continue on track (Jubilee Trail) with field boundary now on left hand side. Ahead for 750m to reach isolated Cripton Cottage on left hand side at T junction, with signpost on right hand side (GR 701 867).
Turn left (Jubilee Trail) to immediately go around bend, when immediately fork right at split of track by stone building on left hand side and rusty corrugated iron roof in front. In 10m at signpost on left hand side continue ahead on Jubilee Trail for 950m to T junction with signpost on right hand side (GR 696 859).
Turn right (Jubilee Trail) for 500m to reach cross track. Ahead and in 5m at signpost on right hand side, turn left (Jubilee Trail). In 80m pass waymark (Jubilee Trail) on left hand side and continue ahead on enclosed footpath for 500m to go through small metal gate to road (signpost Bincombe Wey Valley Walk on verge on right hand side) (GR 687 859).
Turn left on road for 250m. At T junction (signpost Bincombe South Dorset Ridgeway on right hand side) leave road and continue ahead on track. In 10m through small metal gate by large metal gate (waymarks South Dorset Ridgeway and Wey Valley Walk). Ahead with field boundary on right hand side, in 450m go through large metal gate to follow now enclosed track for 300m to second large metal gate. Ahead to road and continue downhill. In 150m pass locked large metal gate (waymark South Downs Ridgeway) and continue downhill for 80m to T junction (signpost on right hand side). Turn left downhill on road for 750m through Bincombe bearing right after phone box.
The village is situated on a limestone ridge and the Holy Trinity Church dates from the early 13th century.
Large military camps for the observation of the English Channel were formed on the hills in this parish in the reign of George III, and two deserters, in trying to escape with details of the different camps, were captured in the English Channel, tried by court martial and shot on Bincombe Down. Their remains are buried in the churchyard, where the stone can still be seen. The same incident, differently interpreted, forms the basis of Thomas Hardy’s short story, The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion (Wikipedia).
Early nineteenth century Bincombe was a quiet and secluded place, much as it is today. A young girl by the name of Phyllis Grove lived at the bottom of Bincombe Hill, along an isolated track. The daughter of a doctor, Phyllis’s life was one of much solitude in the constrictions of paternal discipline of the time.
She had become betrothed to Humphrey Gould, though he paid her little attention and was often away. However, her life was to gain much more interest when she met and fell in love with a young German soldier from the nearby camp. Clandestine meetings with the soldier, a Corporal of the York Hussars became the spark that had so far been missing in her life. The soldier, Matthaus Tina, devised a plan for them both to escape to Germany so that they could be married without opposition.
On the day of the planned meeting, Phyllis packed up a few belongings and walked to where Bincombe met the main Dorchester to Weymouth highway. There she hid to await her lover. However, when the stagecoach arrived, her betrothed, Humphrey Gould stepped from it. Pangs of conscience stirred in Phyllis and much as she had wanted to go with Matthaus Tina for a better life, she felt duty-bound to Gould. She then had the heartbreaking task of telling Matthaus that she couldn’t go with him. Matthaus friend, Christoph Bless had already gone on ahead of him to Weymouth to steal a boat for their passage to France. Not wishing to desert his friend who would be waiting for them, Matthaus and Phyllis said a sad goodbye.
Meeting with Humphrey Gould a little later, she was shocked to be told by him that he had recently married. He asked her to tell his father for him as he knew the news would meet with disapproval and he wanted Phyllis to tell his father that she wouldn’t have married him anyway. At this news she was devastated, not because she had wanted to marry Gould, but that she had declined to go with Matthaus Tina her true love.
She withdrew into herself, consoled only by her memories as she sat on the wall that she and her lover had shared. One morning she went as usual to sit on the wall and was to be confronted by something that would haunt her for the rest of her life.
Below her, on Bincombe Down, a band playing the march of the dead was leading a procession and soldiers stood in a line behind two coffins. Behind the band followed a mourning coach flanked by two priests and two soldiers. The procession halted beside the coffins. The two soldiers were blindfolded, knelt beside the coffins and prayed. The commanding officer gave a signal and the firing party shot dead both men.
Phyllis fell from the wall she had been sitting on and for a long time was totally inconsolable. Her father, the doctor, feared for her sanity, such was the extent of her distress.
The parish register of Bincombe sums up the event:
Mats. Tina (Corpl.) in his Majesty’s Regmt. of York Hussars and Shot for desertion, was buried June 30th 1801 aged 22 years. Born in the town of Sarbruck, Germany.
Christopher Bless belonging to his Majesty’s Regmt. of York Hussars who was shot for desertion was buried June 30th 1801 aged 22 years, born at Lothaargen, Alsatia.
The two soldiers were her beloved Matthaus and his friend. When Phyllis was 75 years old she told the famous writer, Thomas Hardy, the tragic story. Only a young man at the time, Hardy later wrote the story as The Melancholy Hussar, having kept the story quiet until long after her death, as he had promised.
As road starts to rise and with ‘SLOW’ sign on road surface, fork right through large metal gate (signpost Upwey 3⁄4) onto wide track (GR 683 842).
Ahead on track with field boundary on right. After 200m cross bridge and turn right onto enclosed path (not shown on older OS maps). Ahead with post and rail fence on left hand side for 200m then turn left uphill for 200m on same path to small wooden gate by large metal gate. Through and turn left with field boundary on left hand side for 500m to reach Coombe Farm Buildings. Through small wooden gate and cross bridge over main road (GR 673 843).
Turn left on tarmac path/cycleway downhill to reach three-way signpost with pond on left (GR 675 837).
Fork left downhill (signpost Town Centre). Bear right on cycleway to pass under road bridge (signpost Upwey Station / Town Centre). Ahead on cycleway for 400m to pass under second road bridge and continue ahead uphill for 400m to reach a T junction, Lorton Lane (GR 672 829).
Turn right and immediately cross bridge over railway line. Ahead on Lorton Lane passing blue steel railings on left hand side. At end of fence cross track and continue ahead (still on Lorton Lane) downhill passing houses to reach main road. Turn left on pavement and in 300m turn left into school entrance. Continue ahead on drive to reach school and FINISH (GR 668 827).
WEY VALLEY SCHOOL. TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED 56.1 miles TOTAL ASCENT: 6388 feet.