Dorset walk around Gore Hill and Up Cerne
PUBLISHED: 10:27 14 November 2017
Only birdsong breaks the peace of this beautiful West Dorset walk which takes in wide valleys, wooded hills and glorious countryside views over the Blackmore Vale, as Edward Griffiths discovers
The focal point of this lovely walk is Up Cerne, of which Jo Draper says, in her book Dorset, The Complete Guide, ‘a tiny hamlet in a lovely setting of chalk hills and park, with lots of trees. The manor house is 17th century with later alterations, and the church is mostly of 1870’.
Actually, the parish church, not dedicated to a particular saint, is very old: the chancel was rebuilt in the early 16th century, and a 15th-century window was re-set into it at the time. But the best part of this walk is the solitude of the wide valley tracks and the high wooded hills, perfect for a little contemplation. You’ll feel miles from anywhere except that ‘tiny hamlet‘. The silence is only broken by the wind in the trees, the cackling of pheasants, the cawing conversations of crows and the twittering of birds in the woods. Take your time and enjoy the peace.
• Distance: 4¼ miles /6.75 km
• Time: 3¼ hours
• Exertion: Some steep hills, up and down, and some easy lanes. Some muddy parts
• Start: Hilfield Local Nature Reserve Car Park west of Minterne Magna (Grid Ref: ST636039)
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194
• Public Transport: None
• Dogs: On leads at all times, as instructed by signs
• Refreshments: The Royal Oak, The New Inn or The Giant Inn at Cerne Abbas for lunches and bar meals, and Abbots Tearoom also in Cerne Abbas
1. Leave the Car Park and turn right along the road to the first right steep sunken lane. Evershot is 4 miles straight ahead. Take the left ‘Wessex Ridgeway’ signed ancient track under trees and between fields. The O.S. trig point in the left field is Gore Hill at 265 metres. Becoming a narrow, fenced path, it may be muddy along here but the views compensate to the right, over Eastcombe Bottom, ranging from Hardy Monument beyond Dorchester to the Rampisham masts. In ½ mile, emerge onto a grass track with Eastcombe Bottom over the right hedge. Join the main track straight on - it’s the Wessex Ridgeway with ‘Wether Hill ½’ left.
2. Pass a ‘Public Route Up Cerne 1½’ signpost signifying an ‘other route with public access’. In 100 yards, at a three-way pointer, go through the left-fork gate for ‘Up Cerne 1½’ onto the grass track over the field along the left hedge. Soon, the track begins to descend, sunken between fields and passes a left return-fork bridleway sign. Up Cerne appears below you as you pass above the Cerne Valley, with East Hill the other side. Pass a right track, then a bridleway-signpost. Past a right wood, the track becomes steeper and stonier until, through a facing gate, descend under trees to meet a lane on a bend.
3. Turn left up the double avenue of trees with open fields both sides. Past a crossing footpath, descend the hedged lane, passing the Manor House over a right gate, into Up Cerne itself. At the T-junction, before the River Cerne feeder stream bridge, turn left to pass the bus shelter and the green arrows. Walk up the valley lane, passing a fine Georgian house and following the stream. Pass the left footpath, signed ‘Cerne Abbas 1’. Around the bend, pass the right avenue bridleway signed ‘Minterne Magna ¾’. From here, the lane rises with crows and hills all around, and the right valley below East Hill. Undulating now, the Tarmac ends at the left ‘Wether Hill’ bridleway track. Keep straight on for ‘Up Cerne Wood’. There may be mud on this section, too.
4. Past a left barn, the track bends, still above the right valley but rising gently towards its head. Eventually, the track divides. Go straight on through the hedge gap and up the deceptively steep field to the opening into Up Cerne Wood. The track now gets even steeper. Go slowly and leave by the bridleway-arrowed tree into a long narrow field. Cross the field to an arrowed boulder and turn left along the grass track parallel with the road. In¾ mile, go through the right 2½ gates, signed ‘Public Site Hilfield Hill’ onto the road and keep straight on. In 100 yards, at the right lay-by, go over the footbridge and turn left through trees back to the Car Park. Before you leave, have a stroll around the ‘Meadow Meander’ and enjoy the views over the Blackmore Vale towards Yetminster and Yeovil.
• The ultimate Dorset walking guide - With Durdle Door, Brownsea Island, Jurassic Coast and a whole host of other stunning sights, Dorset is an amazing place for a stroll