A ramble around Broadwindsor, Lewesdon Hill and Burstock
PUBLISHED: 16:22 16 May 2019
On this scenic walk in Dorset we meet the Monarch’s Way, take in a Roman signal station and enjoy some fabulous hilltop views
The Monarch's Way (monarchsway.50megs.com) is a 625 mile trail which marks 21-year-old Charles II's 'flight path' following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. His planned escape to France from Charmouth was initially thwarted. On his route from Bridport to Trent, Charles stayed overnight 23-24 November 1651 at Broadwindsor's Castle Inn, later The George which burned down in 1856. His convoluted journey eventually led to Shoreham in West Sussex where he successfully embarked for France.
After Waddon Hill fort, where the Romans installed a signal station, we visit 915ft high Lewesdon Hill, the highest point in Dorset and just 6ft higher than two miles distant Pilsdon Pen where Vespasian's army captured the Iron Age hill-fort in AD43.
1 Walk up High Street, outside St John's east gate, and take right Common Water Lane. Past Coach House and Manor Farm Cottages, the lane is sunken under trees then with extensive views through side gates. Descend past Providence Farm. After Cottage Farm, the lane ends but continue into the shady track. Past left farm buildings, ascend to a T-junction. Go right, signed 'bridleway'. Follow the hedged track between fields up to Clanden Hill. From the top, with wooded Lewesdon Hill ahead, descend to the B3163.
2 Signed 'bridleway', cross to the opposite gate. Through, take the instant-right bridleway half-gate into a high field. Turn half-left down to the distant bottom corner gate. Through, veer slightly from the right fence to the facing bridleway-gate. Through, continue across the field to the right corner Wessex Ridgeway (W/R) gate. Through, continue along left trees, then right trees up the next field, with Waddon Hill left, to the 'Broadwindsor' and 'Lewesdon Hill' signpost. Go through the derelict farm's yard to the lane, signed back 'bridleway'. With Stoke Knap left, cross into the W/R 'Lewesdon Hill' ascending hedged track with fine views. Past opposing gates, continue upwards, sunken and damp, then between beeches. Pass a right bridleway-arrowed gate, a 'Pilsdon Pen 1¾' signpost and a National Trust sign.
3 Keep straight on through ancient beeches on flint and turf drove banks. Reaching a footpaths' crossing, turn left up 'National Trust Lewesdon Hill' woodland-track. Continuing upwards, arrive on a grass path along the top Iron-Age settlement's left edge. Reaching the far point, enjoy the views to Golden Cap and the sea. Turning around, take the path above the steep left hill-slope. This becomes a tree-clad ridge path before leaving 'National Trust Lewesdon Hill' at an iron fence. Cross the outside path into the ridge-end path through bracken. Start descending. Fork right at the instant fork, then right fork again in a few yards. Keeping to the most-used path, fork left and continue down to meet the bottom track. Actually, all of the downhill paths meet the bottom track, so choosing the 'right' one isn't critical. Turn left.
4 Keep following the track through trees with right fields to meet a bridleway-post, signed back 'Lewesdon Hill' and on 'Pilsdon Pen'. Keep straight on, with Broadwindsor down to your right. Past a bridleway-post, follow the path over the left bank and along the bank before crossing back and continuing. It just avoids a mud and scrub area before meandering for another ¼ mile to the Pilsdon Pen road. Turn left and keep right. In 300 yards, with Pilsdon Pen ahead, take right Courtyard Farm's concrete 'Burstock ¾' bridleway-drive.
5 Follow the drive down but, at the left bend, continue down the hedged track. Becoming distinctly verdant, descend with Burstock Grange and farm forward-right. After the bottom, slightly marshy, area, continue up the sunken shady track, then tree-less, to the three-way bridleway-post. Cross the junction into the bridleway-track down to the road. Cross left of Pound Cottage and continue down the lane into 'Burstock'. On the left bend facing Burstock Farmhouse, take the sharp-right lane up to St Andrew's Church. The bridleway goes right along the churchyard wall but go through the iron gates and walk quietly to the far end gate into a huge field.
6 Walk due east up the field, past the ash tree. Through the hedge-gap into the next field, follow the right hedge up, over and down, with Blagdon Hill ahead, to the bottom corner gate, signed back 'bridleway'. Follow the lane into 'Hursey'. Continue past elegant stone 'Coronation House', built 1307 and rebuilt 1937, through Hursey and up to the T-junction. Turn left downhill and into Broadwindsor. Rising, pass left 'The Old George' where Charles II stayed and see the White Lion on the right corner. Cross into the lane with the right telephone box. Walk up the church steps back to St John's with High Street beyond, where you started.
Time: 4 hours
Exertion: Strenous. Several slow ascents.
Dogs: On leads where livestock is and in accordance with specific notices encountered on the walk and The Countryside Code
Refreshments: White Lion Inn, Broadwindsor