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Dorset walk around Hooke and Toller Whelme

PUBLISHED: 16:58 26 August 2015 | UPDATED: 16:58 26 August 2015

Westcombe Coppice

Westcombe Coppice

Archant

Deep valleys, wooded hills and sea views all feature in this lovely West Dorset summer walk with Edward Griffiths

Delightful views from Toller DownDelightful views from Toller Down

This superb summer walk has lovely views over deep valleys and wooded hills, even to the sea from Toller Down and other high fields. There’s an ancient oak wood, and plenty of ash and beech trees and dark commercial pines, with several lakes and ponds. There’s the fine stone-mullion windowed 15th-17th-century manor house at rarely-visited Toller Whelme, and the unusual St Giles’ church at Hooke where the tower is Victorian but the rest is mostly medieval - unusual because it’s usually the other way round.

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Information

• Distance: 3½ or 5¾ miles (5.5km or 9.25km)

• Time: 3½ or 5 hours

• Exertion: Fairly strenuous with 850ft total ascent. Some mud and wet paths even without recent rainfall

• Start: St Giles Church, Hooke. Park thoughtfully in widest part of lane (Grid Ref: ST535002)

• Map: OS Landranger Sheets 194

• Public Transport: None

• Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock or where requested and on roads

• Refreshments: ‘Café 64’ on A356 in Maiden Newton for coffee and light lunches, Fox and Hounds in Cattistock for lunches and tasty bar meals.

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The walk

1 From St Giles’ Church, take the westward ‘Hooke Court’ lane. At right ‘Lower Kingcombe 2½’ bridleway-signpost, continue around the left bend. In 100 yards, take the right ‘B3163’ bridleway off Juniper House drive. Over the footbridge, ascend the ‘stream-bed’ path through trees. Through the half-gate by right tennis courts, follow the left fence up to the bridleway-gate into a rising field. Through, continue up to the top left corner bridleway-gate. Through, follow right trees over the field with a wooded left valley to the corner gate. Through, cross the field’s lower slopes towards the far right corner. Finding the half-gate, cross the farm track and go through another half-gate into Burnt Bottom.

2 Follow the valley floor through another three half-gates before swinging left to bridleway-gates straddling another track. Into Westcombe Coppice, follow the grass track to the exit bridleway-gate. Through, cross the field to the wide hedge-gap. Through, keep straight on up the field, this being Toller Down, then cross left at two cattle-troughs to find the bridleway half-gate in the left hedge. Through, follow the facing hedge’s right side over this field. In 200 yards, take the left bridleway half-gate. Through, follow the right hedge, with delightful views, to the corner gate.

3 Through, follow the right hedge, with distant sea views ahead, to the corner bridleway half-gate. Through, follow the left hedge down to the gate onto a tree-lined track down to a tracks’ T-junction. Turn right to visit Toller Whelme then return here and turn left along the ‘Hooke’ lane. Pass left Lake Farm and the right lake, undulating to a fork T-junction. Keep left, signed ‘Hooke ½’. For the short walk, keep following this lane for ½ mile, and join the longer walkers at Point ‘X’ in Stage 6. Otherwise, in 100 yards, take the reverse-right ‘Mapperton 1½’ fork. Through the bridleway-gate, follow the ‘shelf’ track and along the right hedge, passing a right gate, to another bridleway-gate. Through, continue along the right hedge above the left valley, to another bridleway-gate. Through, keep following the right hedge to the bridleway-gate into a woodland track, then up, into and through Coltleigh Farm.

4 After 100 yards, at the T-junction, take the left bridleway track to the bridleway-gate. Through, follow the sunken track down against the right hedge to a right bridleway-gate with the wood facing you. Ignore this gate. Turn left along the grass track to the other bridleway-gate. Through, pass the right pond and follow the ‘shelf’ track into pines and across a ford. Continue up and through bracken to another bridleway-gate into a high field. Follow the left hedge, with earthworks and a barrow right, up, over and down steeply into a track with an accompanying stream.

5 Go through the facing bridleway-gate, cross the stream and follow the track to the ‘roses-round-the-door’ cottage at Burcombe. Turn left up the bridleway-track and lane to the four-way signpost. Up through the facing opening, take the lurking left bridleway half-gate under trees, not the facing gate. Follow the ferny, wet stream-bed path up to the bridleway half-gate into a high field. Follow the left hedge to the corner bridleway-gate. Through, follow the right wood’s edge down the field to the bridleway-pointer into Hooke Park. Follow the meandering, wet woodland path to the footbridge, through the half-gate and up the steep reed-grass path, passing left dense pinewood, and continuing through ash and pines.

6 Across a forest track, keep ascending as before, then under beeches to a Tarmac track. Go right to a T-junction. Keep left along, up and over the woodland drive. Shortly before the exit from ‘Hooke Park’, take the right-fork bridleway track up to the roadside barrier opposite a T-junction. Turn right up the tree-shaded ‘Powerstock and Poorton’ road, (This is Point ‘X’) then continue downhill. In ¼ mile, turn left down the shady lane to the T-junction out of Green Lane into Hooke. Turn left back to St Giles’ Church where you began.

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READ ON

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