Dorset walk around Margaret Marsh and Todber
PUBLISHED: 16:35 24 September 2015 | UPDATED: 16:35 24 September 2015
Seeking a long summer stroll without too many hills? Edward Griffiths meanders through the flatter parts of the beautiful Blackmore Vale
At least half of this slightly longer than usual walk is over ‘Norfolk-flat’ country with huge skies. From remote Margaret Marsh, we meander over flat fields and around a private nature reserve on the way to ‘ancient and modern’ Stour Row where we brush against the lower slopes of Duncliffe Hill. Then, we pass more farms before reaching Todber with its delightful little church of St Andrew’s. A church has stood here since late Saxon times but most of what you see today was rebuilt in the late 1870s, only the original tower remains. Then, after private fishing lakes, there’s a final level walk through fields and farms to Margaret Marsh.
• Distance: 7¾ miles (12.5km)
• Time: 5 hours
• Exertion: Fairly easy and flat. Several stiles. Some mud after rain. Some stiles maybe a little overgrown in summer
• Start: St Margaret’s Church, Margaret Marsh (Grid Reference: ST824186)
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 183
• Public Transport: None
• Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock and on roads
• Refreshments: Plough Inn, Manston. Serving food 9am - 9pm and 12 noon - 3pm Sundays
1 From St Margaret’s, walk back along the lane to the T-junction facing Lower Farm. Turn right. At Newhouse Farm, take the left footpath-signed stile into a field. Follow the left hedge to another footpath stile. Over, cross the large field, crossing a track at a cattle-trough before veering half right to the gate by another trough against the right hedge. Through, go instantly left over the field to the hedge’s footpath gate. Through, over the concrete bridge, follow the left hedge to the footpath stile. Over, cross to the right corner footpath half gate facing Duncliffe Hill. Through, follow the right hedge’s manicured ‘Public Footpath’ with ‘Private’ ponds and woods left.
2 Continue around a left corner, still ‘Public Footpath’. At the next left corner, go through the hedge gap, over the lawn, onto the drive. Keep straight on. At a T-junction, cross left to the unsigned half gate by the security box. Cross the field to the hedge’s footpath stile. Over, turn right along the track. Through end footpath-gates, take the right gate onto the lane. Turn left. Fine views with Melbury Beacon left and Duncliffe Hill right. At the T-junction, turn left for an easy stroll to Stour Row. At the T-junction by All Saints’ Church, turn left for ‘East Stour’. In 100 yards, at telephone box, take the right ‘Duncliffe Wood’ hedged path.
3 Over the end footpath stile, cross two paddocks to a crossing track. Over, cross three paddocks to the corner footpath stiled sleeper bridge. Over, cross the rising field diagonally right into the corner under an ash tree. Through the gate, with two footpaths and a gate right, follow the LEFT hedge down to the ‘Hardy Way’ gate into a hedged path descending to cottages’ drive and the road with backward footpath sign. Continue to the T-junction, then into ‘Woodville’ road. Continue for over half mile, ignoring all side footpaths. After a right turning and ‘School’ sign, take the left footpath signed gate/stile before the playground.
4 Past a second stile/gate, follow the field’s right hedge down, with wide open views. Reaching a right gate, veer left aiming for the hedge’s gateway with Bulbarrow masts above it. This line takes you into the valley, with Shadehouse Farm right, and through a fence gate before ascending to that hedge gate. Through, turn right along the meandering right hedged track to and through the right footpath gate. Follow the fenced track across the field to the gate. Through, go over the facing hedge’s footpath-stile. If still overgrown, turn down to the gate, before Pigeon House Farm, into the same field. Either way, walk past the garden hedge corner to the lower hedge’s footpath arrowed stile/sleeper/stile. Over, turn left, aiming up the long field (round the right edge of planted) to the facing hedge’s four-way footpath-gateway.
5 Through, turn left along the left hedge meandering around bends down to ‘Bushey’ cottage and the lane gateway with a backward footpath-sign. Turn left then right for ‘Marnhull’. Past Todber’s St Andrew’s Church and Church Close, take the ‘Millennium Green’ footpath. Follow the drive past units and cottages into the shady footpath signed path. In ¼ mile, emerge onto Todber Manor’s fishing grounds’ tracks. Turn right onto the ‘Hayes’ footpath track. Reaching the security gates, follow the footpath arrowed path outside the fence. At next footpath arrows veer right again to find the ‘in-hedge’ footpath/footbridge by a right oak. Over, bear ¼ left across the level field, well left of Hayes Farm, to the hedge gap with footpath arrow on the oak.
6 Through, turn left along the concrete track. Through the end gate, bear slightly right across the field, towards visible Lymburgh’s Farm, to find another ‘in-hedge’ footpath stile. Over, follow the right hedge/fence and pass the right corrugated iron barn. With no arrows anywhere, go through the right gate into a yard. Continue through the end gate, past the right house and along the track to the gate onto the road with a backward footpath sign. Turn left for a final one mile easy stroll, ignoring all footpaths off. Bend right at Jolliffe’s Farm and pass stone thatched Marsh Farm House. After the last left bend, turn right onto the lane to St Margaret’s where you started.
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