Dorset walk: Toller Porcorum and Wynford Wood
PUBLISHED: 16:12 24 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:14 01 October 2014
Edward Griffiths enjoys an exhilarating late summer walk through the fields and woods of the beautiful River Hooke valley
Distance: 5 1/2 miles (8.75 km)
Time: 4 hours
Exertion: Fairly strenuous with lots of ascents and descents. Several stiles. Expect mud.
Start: Toller Porcorum Village Hall behind St Andrew’s Church off School Lane (Grid Ref: ST562980)
Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194
Public Transport: South West Coaches 73
Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock or where requested and on roads
Refreshments: Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Kingcombe Centre for coffee, cakes, light lunches and afternoon teas (10am - 4pm)
Situated in the beautiful River Hooke valley you will find ‘Toller of the Pigs’ better known as Toller Porcorum. It’s a lovely village, so take a few moments to explore before setting off on your walk. This exhilarating walk may be a trifle strenuous, but there’s lots of variety, with long established paths passing by ancient trees, part of the old Maiden Newton to Bridport railway, and high downs’ fields with magnificent views. There are fields with sedge, bridleways with long grass and other assorted plants, and some small streams to cross, so do wear proper waterproof walking boots.
1 Take the tarmac footpath behind the village hall to the road. Turn left. Pass St Andrew’s and School Lane. Take next left Kingcombe Road, signed ‘Hooke’. In ¼ mile, take the right bridleway-signed track at Toller Mill. Over the bridge, bend left. Through the ‘No Through Road’ bridleway-gateway, cross the yard to the bridleway and Jubilee Trail (J/Tr) gate. Through this, cross to the fenced grass bridleway-track. Pass a right footpath-gate. Through the end gate, cross the sloping field to the iron bridleway-gate into the tree-shaded track, bending right/left at a left stile. Pass another left footpath stile/gate and a right bridleway track. Emerge onto the road at Lower Kingcombe.
2 Turn left. Over the River Hooke bridge, pass Kingcombe Centre and Nature Reserve. Pass a right corner footpath-track and a left footpath. In ½ mile, at ‘Poor End’, take right Clift Lane for ‘Powerstock’. Before the first left cottage, take the left footpath-gate into a level field. Aim for the far left end, not the far corner footpath-gate but the footpath-gate in the facing hedge. Through, walk down to the old railway-track. Cross it and the small stream, and bear right to the twin fence stiles/footbridge, then cross to the hedge gap. Through, walk straight up the sedge field to the facing hedge and turn left along it to the corner gate. Through, turn right through the hedge-gap and left to the footpath-gate.
3 Turn right up High Street to the right bend. Here, take the ‘Toller Fratrum 1½’ footpath-track down through bracken to Colesmoor Wood - but DON’T GO IN!. Before the cantilever-gate, turn left down the ‘By-Way’ arrowed path, becoming a meandering track through the wood. Through the gate, cross the stream and ascend the improving path through gorse to a footpath-gate into a scrub field. Keep straight up, then bend right along the hedge to the farthest corner gate onto a farm track.
4 Keep straight up through trees and into the open. Past a right bridleway, take the instant left bridleway-gate into the high field. Bear left up and over, with super views, to the fence’s bridleway half-gate and down to another bridleway half-gate with Wynford Woods facing you. Through, turn right along the hedge to the bridleway-gate. Through, turn left down the steep hill into the valley, across the wet area and up the other side, keeping well left, to the half-gate. Through, walk left along Wynford Wood’s edge before veering right up to the road gate at the facing hedge’s end. Through, turn left. Go over the footpath-stile and turn left along the fence to Wynford Wood. Turn right along its edge, bending to a footpaths’ junction.
5 Through the half-gate, the ‘Toller Porcorum’ pointer indicates your direction exactly, so walk diagonally down the hill aiming for the apparent gap in trees facing you - actually the lowest trees in the clump - between distant St Andrew’s tower and the left radio mast. Finding a J/Tr and footpath post, follow the path into the trees and to the nearby J/Tr and footpath-stile. Over, walk down the field to the footpath hedge-gap and cross the footpath-bridge. Continue up to the corner footpath-stile. Over, bear slightly right across the field to the footpath-stile under the tallest ash trees. Over, cross the ‘Toller Fratrum’ track with the five-way pointers. Over the ‘Toller Porcorum ¾’ footpath-stile, go straight downfield to the footpath-gate and walk ¼-left up and over the next field to the hedge’s footpath-gate.
6 Through, walk up the field to the hedge’s footpath-stile. Over, walk down to the bottom right corner footbridge onto a track. Cross through the opposite gate and take the instant right footpath kissing-gate. Aim across the field to the church for the footpath kissing-gate in the right hedge before the corner. Through, go straight across the field to the footpath footbridge hidden under the trees. Over, cross to the footpath-stile/gate onto the old railway track. Turn left and bend right, across the yard, to Lower Road, Toller Porcorum. Turn left back to the footpath returning to the Village Hall.