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Dorset walk - Corfe Castle and Knowle Hill

PUBLISHED: 10:18 25 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:32 20 February 2013

Dorset walk - Corfe Castle and Knowle Hill

Dorset walk - Corfe Castle and Knowle Hill

Edward Griffiths explores the Bronze Age barrows and river pastures around Corfe Castle

Distance: 3 miles (6.03 km) Time: 3 hours Exertion: Not too strenuous

Edward Griffiths explores the Bronze Age barrows and river pastures around Corfe Castle


Corfe Castles place in English history is well known; it saw the murder of St Edward, English king and martyr, in AD 978 and Lady Bankes brave defence of the castle during the Civil War. Its imposing ruins are the result of slighting by Parliament in 1646 so that it could never be used as a Royalist stronghold again. This walk climbs onto Knowle Hill, where you will see Bronze Age barrows, and possibly the faint remains of Iron Age cross-dykes or the Romano-British settlement. The many fences and hedges are the result of enclosures in 1856. There are fine views across the Corfe River valley and over Wareham to Poole Harbour.



From the NT car park, cross the A351 into the Wildlife Path. With the castle left, continue past West Mill ruins. Ignoring the left path to the castle, continue for Furzebrook, Wareham and Purbeck Way. Through 1 gates, take the arrowed Cocknowle bridleway along the left fence, climbing West Hill. Reaching the marker stone for Knowle Hill and Cocknowle, keep left not up the clearer right fork..


Through the next 1 gates, keep on up the narrowing, hedge bridleway. Pass the left Underhill Road footpath turning. At the next marker stone for Underhill and Cocknowle left, go right for Ridge Path and Knowle Hill. Through the upper gate, follow the chalk track. Theres a lime kiln along the lower track. Through the top 1 gates, follow the left fence, then keep straight on below the ridge crest, passing Bronze Age barrows with Church Knowle below and views to Portland ahead. Behind are Nine Barrow Down and the Isle of Wight.


Through 1 gates, keep following the right fence. Pass a left-bridleway arrow. Through another 1 gates, continue along the ridge with views right into Poole Harbour. At the hexagonal plinth, turn sharp left for Church Knowle , slightly doubling back to find the steep, narrow path descending Knowle Hill. Reaching the four-way footpath pointer, go over the Church Knowle stile. Over this, bear half-right across the field to the footpath-stile in the right hedge. Over this, bear half-left to the footpath-stile into the playing field. Walk down to the road gate. Turn left.


Walk through Church Knowle, passing the New Inn. At the left bend, take the right pointered Swyre Head footpath. But visit St Peters church around the bend first. Follow the meandering track past several houses and a left pond. Over the end footpath-stile and gate, go into the left field. Walk down to the bottom left corner footpath-stiled bridge not the right one. Over this, follow the right stream (Corfe River) to the footpath-stile and through scrub with West Bucknowle House ahead left. Cross the drive and go over the footpath-stile.


Follow the stream. Go over the next footpath-stile, turn left up the steep field, passing in front of the multi-gabled cottage, to the top corner footpath-gate. Through this, follow the left hedge past Bucknowle House. Over the next corner footpath-stile, keep following the left hedge to another corner footpath-gate. Through this, walk up the hill, right of the trough, aiming for Corfe Church and passing the electricity posts bridleway-arrow. Go over the hedges sleeper-bridge and follow the right fence.


Reaching the three-way footpath pointer, go through the right NT half-gate into the meadow. Go left, crossing ditches to the right footpath-gated bridge. Over the stream, fork left up the field to the footpath-arrowed kissing-gate into the car park. Turn left through the car park into West Street. Turn left and walk through Corfe Castle to The Square. Follow the A351 pavement below the castle and cross back into the car park where you started.


Start: National Trust Corfe Castle car park on A351 (grid ref SY959825) or in lay-by below castle on Creech road

Map: OS Landranger 195

Terrain: An initial gradual ascent onto West Hill; several stiles; mud in valley meadows after rain

Dogs: On leads when requested or where there is livestock
Public transport: Steam Railway from Swanage. Wilts & Dorset buses
142, 143

Refreshments: Corfe Castle has many excellent pubs including The Castle Inn, The Fox, The Greyhound and the Bankes Arms, all serving good bar meals and a range of real ales. Teas are available at Corfe Castle Model Village Courtyard Tea Rooms, the National Trust Tea Rooms and Moretons Hotel, to name but a few


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