Dorset walk around Shillingstone and Okeford Hill
PUBLISHED: 15:53 09 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:53 09 October 2017
Edward Griffiths enjoys a walk of contrasts and sensational views
From Okeford Fitzpaine and the Stour meadows, there are superb views to Hambledon Hill. From Okeford Hill, there are sensational views to Melbury Beacon and Stourhead in the north and Pilsdon Pen and Lambert’s Castle in the west.
• Distance: 6¼ miles (10 km)
• Time: 5 hours
• Exertion: Fairly strenuous with total 600ft of ascent. Some mud after rain.
• Start: Trailway car park, Hayward Road railway bridge, Shillingstone (Grid Ref: ST823119)
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194
• Public Transport: Damory Coaches 309, 310, 368
• Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock, on roads and where required by notices
• Refreshments: Royal Oak in Okeford Fitzpaine for lunches and bar meals.
1. Leave through the pedestrian exit, cross into the ‘No-entry’ road and walk to the A357 Sturminster Newton road. Cross right/left into Hambledon Farm entrance. Take the left-fork hedged track - a bridleway - for ¾ mile, passing gates with views to Shillingstone Hill chalk pit. Emerging into a gated farmyard area, continue through, sweeping right/left past Mill Farm. Reaching hedged Shillingstone Lane, signed back ‘Footpath’, turn right.
2. Immediately after left Cookwell waterworks, take the left footpath-signed path into a wild pond area. Cross to the footpath-stile into a field and walk up towards Okeford Fitzpaine’s St Mary’s Church. Over the top stile/gate, continue to the road gateway. Facing the church, turn left up Back Lane, bending right and ascending past houses. Up to the facing ‘Private - Hazel Hill Farm’ gate, bend left and keep climbing the sunken track. At left Heart of Oaks Stables entrance, there are superb views to Hambledon Hill and Hod Hill. Up to the next fork, go through the facing bridleway-gate and start ascending Okeford Hill.
3. Pass a right pit and a fenced water reservoir. Reaching the bridleway-post and the bridleway-arrowed road gate, turn half-left up to the fence’s bridleway half-gate onto the ‘gallops’. Through the opposite half-gate, keep the same line diagonally up the field, with the beacon up to your right, to the half-gate in the facing hedge. Through, keep the same direction up. Meeting the right fence, follow it to 2½ bridleway-gates into a tracks’ junction. Cross onto the bridleway-track through a bike-park and into the beech wood,. Over a tracks’ crossing, continue along the grassy track to a T-junction. Turn left, signed ‘1 Shillingstone’ with woods left and a field right.
4. Reaching the right-fork ‘Bonsley Common’ bridleway, keep straight on for ‘¾ Shillingstone’. Arriving at another crossing in a clearing, go left for ‘Shillingstone ½’ down Eastcombe Wood’s ¾ mile long stony, quite steep and fern-clad path. Down to a three-way signpost into a hedged lane, turn left for ‘Shillingstone’. Passing between houses to the T-junction, turn right into White Pit. In 200 yards, past two semi-detached cottages, go through the left bridleway half-gate, just right of the farm gate, signed ‘Shillingstone’. Follow the left hedge across the field to the ‘Hambledon Hill 2’ half-gate onto the A357. Cross into Holloway Lane, signed ‘Trailway’, and keep straight on.
5. Past allotments, continue under railway bridge and past right farm buildings. When the track turns left into a wood, keep straight on along the bridleway-path. Through the end Wessex Ridgeway (W/R) gate into the field, turn half-right to the River Stour W/R-bridge. Over, turn left, veering from the river to the facing bridleway-gate into trees. In 25 yards, take the left W/R half-gate into the woods. Follow the winding path for ¼ mile. Through the end bridleway-gate, follow the left fence across the field to a gateway onto a yard. Go through the facing gate, across the track and through the opposite gate. Follow the right fence and trees across the field. At the end, go through the right gate, then the first left gate. Follow the enclosed grass track to the bridleway-signed gate onto Hansford School’s fenced drive. Turn left.
6. Past ‘Meadowside’, take the left track. In 25 yards, take the left signed-footpath past Meadowside’s garden and along the tree-line. Through the end gate into a clearing with more gates, continue into the next field and follow the right wood‘s edge to its end. Over the footpath-stile into a long field, follow the electricity posts to the footpath-arrowed horse jump. Over, pass one electricity-post and solitary tree to the footpath-signed stile onto a fenced bridleway-track. Turn left. Down to the right bend, take the left signed-footpath to the facing gate. Through, turn right along the right fence and over a ditch-bridge into the second field. Cross to the ‘Wilson-Haines’ Stour bridge. Over, turn left across to 1½ gates onto the ‘Trailway’, the old Somerset and Dorset Railway line. Turn right.
7. After an easy ½ mile stroll, arrive at Shillingstone Station. Go straight through or visit this exciting project before continuing down into Haywards Lane. Turn left under the bridge back to the car park where you started.
• Winter walks in Dorset - When the weather gets colder, there’s not much more refreshing than a brisk walk across the countryside, and there’s plenty of that here in Dorset…