CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today CLICK HERE

Dorset walk around Tarrant Rushton & Manswood

PUBLISHED: 11:01 25 April 2017

Fine views over the Tarrant Valley

Fine views over the Tarrant Valley


Edward Griffiths starts this bluebell walk in Cranborne Chase at a remarkable airfield that was once home to two Glider Pilot Regiments which played a key role on D-Day

The starting point for this delightful Cranborne Chase ‘bluebell’ walk is Tarrant Rushton Airfield. Built in 1943 for the planned invasion of Europe, the airfield was used by 298 and 644 Squadron Glider Pilot Regiment. They used Halifax aircraft as tugs for Horsa and Hamilcar gliders which were designed to carry troops and heavy cargo such as tanks. Vitally important on D-Day (6 June 1944), 298 and 644 Squadron captured Pegasus Bridge, and flew further missions for four weeks. SAS and SOE operations and tactical bombing missions followed.

Now largely returned to arable farmland, the sunlit fields and overhead skylarks are a joyful reminder of what this former airfield at Tarrant Rushton achieved for Britain in the Second World War.


• Distance: 6½ miles (10.5km)

• Time: 4½ hours

• Exertion: Easy. No significant ascents, no stiles. Some mud after rain.

• Start: Tarrant Rushton Airfield. Park clear of yellow hatched area outside gates (Grid Ref: ST950062)

• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195

• Public Transport: None

• Dogs: On leads in fieldswith livestock and on roads

• Refreshments: The Langton Arms, Tarrant Monkton for lunches and bar meals

The walk

1. Take the footpath-signed gap onto the airfield, passing the left hangar. Turn left along the concrete ‘apron’ and pass the hangar’s enclosure. From the left turning area, continue for 225 yards to the end of the left field and the start of the right hedge. At the angled left fence, follow the faint path down along the fence to the half-gate by a horse-jump. Through, continue down the left hedge to the half-gate onto the road, signed back ‘Bridleway’. Cross left to the ‘Public Footpath’ track. Through the cantilever-gate, follow the old concrete track around left Sheep Park Coppice. In ¼ mile, passing a left thatched cottage, the hedged track rises gently between fields.

2. Pass between old airfield buildings left and right Hogstock Coppice to a tracks’ T-junction. Go right, still with Hogstock Coppice right with bluebells and wood anemones. Reaching facing double-gates, take the right-fork arrowed-bridleway along the same right wood with fine views over Tarrant Valley villages. At a left bridleway arrow, pass a left-fork descending track and keep straight on. Past the cantilever-gate and bridleway arrows at a right turning, continue on the track, soon bending right into Little Down wood. Continue, slightly downwards, and meet a left field. Swinging right to a bridleway T-junction, go left onto the gravel track between the left field and right wood. Undulating to a bridleway-post opposite the young left wood, turn right on the bridleway-track between rolling fields.

3. Entering Chetterwood (unsigned), keep to the main track with coppice, bluebells, anemones, primroses and daisy-like stitchwort. Ignore all side tracks. Reaching a right hairpin bend with a bridleway straight on, go around the hairpin. In 100 yards, the track bends left at a bridleway-post. Continue round and up to a six-ways (one grass) junction. Cross over and continue, past the sold wood bench and between dark pine woods. Past a two-way bridleway-post at a right sweep, pass through the fenced Crichel Estates huts area, leaving the woods behind. Along the hedged track, pass right barns. Through the cantilever-gate, pass left thatched cottages. At the Manswood road junction, cross over into the bridleway-signed hedged track and turn right. It’s safer than the road.

4. Meeting the road again at a three-way bridleway-pointer, cross into ‘Dean Hill Piggery’ bridleway-track. Follow the left fence to its end, passing right cottages and two right forks. Past the facing gate, follow the meandering track down the fields with Deans Leaze Farm visible ahead. Passing another right bluebell wood, turn left at the bridleway-track. Follow the left hedge down the field. Into the second field, turn right along the grass track with a line of right trees. Immediately before the open barn, turn right onto the grass track along the left beech hedge. Around the left corner, next turn right along the wooden fence to facing bluebell wood. Turn left at two bridleway-arrows along the fenced grass track. Through facing double-gates, turn right on the grass track along right Birch Coppice with fine views.

5. When the wood ends, continue down the hedged track past left Dean Farm to the tracks T-junction. Turn left. Through 1½ gates, follow the hedged track to the road, signed ‘Dean Farm’ and ‘Bridleway’. Cross onto the gated concrete track up to Hemsworth. Reaching the tracks’ junction, go past the first right cottage and stay on the main track, bending right at the bridleway-arrowed electric-post. Keep to the drive past the left walled-garden. Bending left/right, pass ‘Fox View’ cottage. Now hedged, pass the right house and barn before rising and bending right. Pass the new left hangar. Through facing 1½ gates, keep following the left-fenced bending track, becoming concrete, over fields. Round more bends, go through 2½ facing gates and turn right onto the airfield roadway. Swinging left, pass the fork where you turned off earlier and continue past the right hangar to the gates where you started.


18 photos of bluebells looking majestic in Dorset - It’s bluebells, bluebells and even more bluebells across Dorset right now...


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

Yesterday, 12:40

From festive light switch-ons and Santa’s Grottos, to German Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Dorset this season

Read more
Yesterday, 17:06

Confusion reigns on the county’s eastern border

Read more

From your first step, you will see superb views from hilltops and farmland footpaths on this walk

Read more
Sunday, November 11, 2018

Martin Clunes and his family have called West Dorset home for over two decades. Here he shares some of their favourite local places

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

To mark the centenary of the end of World War One we visit some of the memorials erected across Dorset to remember the fallen in the ‘war to end all wars’

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

This lovely walk takes us from watercress beds to a church famous for its life-size carvings of apostles

Read more
Thursday, October 25, 2018

Autumn is a great time to brush up on your gardening knowledge with the help of some experts, as well as see some well known gardens in a different light

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The guide to Dorset’s best firework displays and bonfire events happening in 2018

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Prepare to experience the paranormal this Hallowe’en as Visit Dorset reveals some of the county’s most haunted pubs, stately homes, historic buildings and tanks

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

Dorset villages are some of the most beautiful in England – think winding lanes, thatched cottages and a cosy pub or welcoming tea room. We suggest ten of the prettiest villages to visit in the county

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

Follow in the footsteps of the Romans on this lovely walk that takes in rare habitat, ancient woodland and glorious views

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

This challenging coastal walk rewards your efforts with spectacular views along the Jurassic Coast

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Marine photographer Steve Belasco shares some very special wildlife moments

Read more
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

TravelSupermarket has uncovered the top 25 most popular UK beaches on Instagram after analysing hashtags used for over 1,100 beaches and Bournemouth comes out on top

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search