<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today click here

Dorset walk around Poole’s Canford Heath Nature Reserve

PUBLISHED: 16:15 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:21 12 March 2018

Looking over the open heath towards 'Gas Corral' crossing

Looking over the open heath towards 'Gas Corral' crossing


Edward Griffiths enjoys a walk on a surprisingly wild heath that is a stone’s throw from both Poole and Bournemouth

Poole Borough Council’s Canford Heath Nature Reserve is one of the largest heaths in Dorset. Around 3,500 years ago, Bronze Age settlers cleared the birch and oak woodland which covered much of south east Dorset to create fields and pastures, and you will pass several of their burial mounds or barrows on the heath. Although building encroachment on the southern area of heath between 1962 and 1986 greatly reduced its size, it still covers 850 acres, equivalent to 532 Wembley-sized football pitches. Sand and gravel have been excavated at several sites and the pits left behind used for landfill but these are now being carefully restored to heathland habitat.

The diversity of the heath’s habitat favours a variety of wildlife. Wetter areas of bog are home to cotton grass, bog asphodel and sundew flytraps, whilst adders, rarer smooth snakes and sand lizards all live amongst the common heather, bell heather, bristle bent grass and gorse. Keep your eyes peeled for rare Dartford warblers which are here all year enjoying this beautiful wild heath, as will walkers.


• Distance: 4½ miles/7.25 km

• Time: 3 hours

• Exertion: Several ascents. Sand and gravel tracks.

• Start: Old entrance to White’s Pit and Landfill in Arrowsmith Road off Gravel Hill A349 Park close to edges. Grid Ref: SU017964

• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195

• Public Transport: Morebus 4, 32

• Dogs: On leads from mid February to end of August due to ground nesting birds

• Refreshments: The Goods Yard, Broadstone Station Approach for good bar meals

The walk

1. Walk up the wide gravel track with birch and pine-clad banks, with some heath views opening out left before the final rise to the heath top. Swinging left with 1½ bridleway-gates right, take the left bridleway half-gate onto a narrow path through ferns and gorse. Joining a wider track coming up from the lower heath, go right, passing a cattle-pen. Cross the high heath with the grass-clad former tip right, already returning to nature. Throughout the walk, starting from this point, don’t take any side tracks or paths unless instructed. Through scattered pines and entering woods, the path gets narrower.

2. Past a left barrow, go through the bridleway half-gate. Keep to the clearest path through the wood, descending soon through rhododendrons into a valley and up the other side, where it becomes wider with the tip’s fence right. Then, descend into wider track with older pines and left high-fenced properties in the trees. Join the old W H White’s entrance track. Continue under trees for ¼ mile and ignore the left bridleway path on a sharp right bend. Keep following the track, rising gently with rhododendrons and pines left and White’s embankment right. Passing a White’s gate, continue very slightly down to pass a left turning. In 100 yards, cross White’s main drive into the ‘Footpath and Bridleway’ track.

3. Instantly, take the left fork to 1½ gates. Through, keep straight on, along the left fence at first, and through pines before becoming more open heath. Pass a right track before the four-way ‘Gas Corral’ signpost, and go left for ‘Bearwood 1¼’ after it. Up open grassy heath and up the hill, there are fine views back. On the level again, pass a left barrow and keep straight on at the fork. Meeting another track from the right, keep straight on alongside the sparse left wood. Approaching 1½ gates and four-way post at ‘Beechleys’, turn right for ‘Canford Heath Estate 1¼’ to enjoy some high open heath. Joining another track coming from the right, keep straight on, and again passing a right fork.

4. The track rises to high ground. Seeing Tower Park’s water-tower ahead left, take the next right fork to a four-way post at ‘Crossroads’. Cross over into the track for ‘Canford Heath Estate 1100 yards’. Ignore the facing gate but go around the left sweeping bend, rising slowly through gorse with the water tower still ahead. Reaching ‘South Walk’ signpost, turn right for ‘Gravel Hill 1½’. From South Walk track, there are great views over Poole Harbour to the Purbeck hills. Pass the ‘Culliford Crescent’ left signpost on ‘Lodge Hill’. Over the right fence, see the grass-covered tip on the horizon. Keep following the main track. Past 1½ right gates, descend into pines.

5. At ‘Dog Leg’ signpost, ignoring the 1½ gates ahead, fork left to pass the fenced left drop. Descend the steep Strawberry Hill stony path into trees and to 1½ gates. Don’t go through but double-back right. This is Longfleet Drive. Reaching ‘Hotchkiss Cross’ signpost, go through the facing 1½ bridleway-gates and take the main left-fork track up through birches and pines to emerge back into heath. There’s the covered tip, quite close again. Keep straight on, still ignoring side tracks, over the heath to the left ‘Pit Road’ signpost. Go past it and through the 1½ bridleway-gates. This is where you came up earlier, so turn left down the old pit road back down to your starting point. 


Things to do in Dorset this month - We round up some of the best events and things to do across Dorset this month


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dorset visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dorset staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dorset account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About


From its miles of golden sands to award-winning festivals, no wonder the public voted Bournemouth the UK’s favourite seaside town at the 2017 British Travel Awards

Read more

Edward Griffiths seeks out remnants of Bournemouth’s ancient heath and the home of a writer who captured 1880s rural social history in her Larkrise to Candleford triology

Read more
Yesterday, 16:08

Helen Stiles rounds up some fun things for families to do over Easter

Read more
Thursday, March 15, 2018

We don’t think photos of Dorset can ever get old. Here are 10 of the best shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

With Durdle Door, Brownsea Island, Jurassic Coast and a whole host of other stunning sights, Dorset is an amazing place for a stroll

Read more
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Marcus Lawson from Birds of Poole Harbour reveals the tasty treats that will tempt more species of bird into your garden, be it big or small

Read more
Monday, March 12, 2018

Edward Griffiths enjoys a walk on a surprisingly wild heath that is a stone’s throw from both Poole and Bournemouth

Read more
Thursday, March 1, 2018

March 2018 saw some significant snowfall across the UK. Here are some of the best photos of it in Dorset

Read more
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Dorset this month

Read more
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

From Bronze Age axe head and steam-powered fire engine to fine pottery and scouting badges, Edward Griffiths finds some fascinating artefacts on display at Poole Museum

Read more
Friday, February 23, 2018

Gay Pirrie-Weir talks to the Mayor of Shaftesbury, John Lewer about how this historic hilltop town is rediscovering its confidence and celebrating its great community spirit

Read more
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

As Dippy the Diplodocus takes up residence at Dorset County Museum, Catherine Bolado of Dorset Wildlife Trust reveals that some of Dippy’s relatives are still with us today

Read more
Friday, February 16, 2018

Snowdrops appearing in Dorset means one thing… spring! We round up where you can see them in Dorset along with some amazing photos

Read more
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

We explore the chalk hill valleys and ancient farmed downs in an area which is renowned for its intriguing barrow sites

Read more
A+ South & South West
Great British Holidays advert link
Pure Weddings advert link
South West Life advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

subscription ad
subscription ad

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Dorset's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search