• Start: St Peter‘s Church, Portesham (Grid Ref: SY603858)
  • End: St Peter‘s Church, Portesham (Grid Ref: SY603858)
  • Country: England
  • County: Dorset
  • Type: Mountainous
  • Nearest pub: The Kings Arms, Portesham - a ‘village ale and eating house’
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Landranger Sheet 194Public
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Edward Griffiths' hilly walk rewards you with superb views over Chesil Beach and a visit to Hardy's monument and Hellstone long barrow

A new year's walk between Portesham and Hampton Stone Circle

Edward Griffiths hilly walk rewards you with superb views over Chesil Beach and a visit to Hardys monument and Hellstone long barrow

This walk is a real treat, especially on a crisp, sunny winters day. Our route climbs onto high downs, passes through pine woodland, over open heath and along ancient field paths, all with superb views over Chesil Beach. We visit Admiral Thomas Masterman Hardys monument on Black Hill, the impressive stone entrance to the Hellstone Neolithic long-barrow and the diminutive but atmospheric Hampton Stone Circle. Descending along a wide sheep-filled valley, we return to Portesham refreshed and exhilarated. The Inland Coast Path is now South Dorset Ridgeway, so both arrows are in evidence.


Distance: 4 or 3 miles (7.5km or 5.25km)
Time: 4 or 3 hoursExertion: First mile is all uphill, with another mile on the long route. Second half is easier, mostly downhill. Some mud after rain.
Start: St Peters Church, Portesham (Grid Ref: SY603858) Park thoughtfully in Front Street
Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194Public
Transport: South West Coaches 61, 62. First 253, X53 & X54
Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock
Refreshments: The Kings Arms, Portesham - a village ale and eating house

The Walk

1 From St Peters, walk up the main road called Front Street. Past Winters Lane, go round the right bend on the Martinstown 4 T-junction. In 100 yards, take the right Hardy Monument 1 bridleway-track, rising to a bridleway-gate into a steeply-rising field. Follow the left stone wall with the hawthorns, bending right before the top with fine views back to Portesham and Chesil Beach. Reaching the walled top corner bridleway-gate, go through and follow the track along the right wall.

2 Through the next gate, descend by the right wall to the bridleway-gate. Turn left down the track. Between the ruined barn and walled-garden, take the right Smitten Corner bridleway for the long walk. [For the short walk, continue along the bridleway-track for 60 yards to the right Hardy Monument bridleway, where the long-walkers rejoin you, and go to Point 4.] Everybody else, walk up alongside the left pine wood.Cross a track and continue up through the wood. Another track joins from your left. Continue up with heathland left, bending left then right before another track joins from your left. Before the left bend ahead, take the left fork (its on a crossing).

3 In another 30 yards, turn left up the flinty path with Hardy Monument forward right. Under a solitary pine, continue up past a left hollow to Hardy Monument. After scanning the views, walk away from the towers south-west face (with the lightning conductor bar) into the grass banks corner gap. Down the flinty path, meet the grass track and turn left. Across another grass track at the West Bexington 6 milestone, descend through heathland. Passing a West Bexington 5 pointer, continue into the woods. Reaching a fork, follow hoof-prints right, down to the track with the ruined barn left. Turn right for West Bexington 4.

4 In 17 yards, take the left Inland Route path to the stone footpath-stile. Over this, follow the left wall up the long field with two SDR-stiles. Fifty yards after the second stile, go over the left Hellstone Only stone-stile and follow the right wall to Hellstone long-barrow. Return and continue up the long field to the three-way signed stone-stile. Over this, go over the right of two stiles. Follow the left fence up the field, skirting around the mud, to the hedge-stile. Into the road, turn left. In 70 yards, take the right West Bexington track through 1 gates. Before right barns, go through the left SDR-gate. Follow the track alongside the right wood.

5 Continue to the top SDR-gate with Hampton Stone Circle on the immediate left. Follow the right hedge to the SDR-stile left of a farm-gate. Over this, follow the right fence and steps to another stile with a Portesham 1 milestone on the other side. Turn left along the path by the left fence above the right valley. Through some gorse, keep following the above-valley path, leaving the left fence. Reaching a bridleway corner-post, follow the next fence down to a left bridleway-signpost. Double back right onto the grass track down into the valley, then double back left at a stone outcrop to the gate into the woods.

6 Passing a bridleway-arrow on the Private Way sign, follow the track along right woods, diverting onto a path when the track gets muddy. Through the Portesham signed gate, follow the right hedge over the field to two bridleway-gates into a fenced track. Before it ends, take the right bridleway half-gate onto the path above the right field. Follow this past houses and gardens to emerge opposite Manor Close. Turn left to the duck-pond and arrive in Front Street, Portesham. Turn right back to St Peters.

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