Dorset walk around Upton Heath and Corfe Mullen
PUBLISHED: 11:44 06 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:54 06 September 2016
Edward Griffiths follows in the footsteps of the Romans on this heathland walk in Poole that takes in a nature reserve
Poole merchant, Christopher Spurrier, built Upton House on the edge of Poole Harbour in 1818. This superb walk starts from here. The Roman Road strides between the Roman port of pre-Poole Hamworthy and Badbury Rings hill fort. We follow it over Upton Heath, once an ancient wild wood, before veering off over the heath to old Corfe Mullen with its myriad stables and paddocks. We pass Cherrett’s Clump wood before strolling alongside Stony Down Plantation’s woodland and over more of delightful Upton Heath.
• Distance: 6 miles (9.5 km)
• Time: 4½ hours
• Start: Upton House car park, just off the A35 (Grid Ref: SY992928)
• Exertion: Not too strenuous. A few ascents but no stiles. Possible mud after rain.
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195
• Public Transport: More Bus 8 and Damory 128 from Poole Bus station
• Dogs: On leads over protected heaths and on roads
• Refreshments: The Holme Bush Inn, Corfe Mullen, for lunches and real ales
1 Leaving Upton House through the entrance gates, turn left down the pavement. At T-junction, cross right along the pedestrian-marked pavement and under Upton by-pass flyover. At the roundabout, cross the slip-road and dual carriageway. Past the left underpass, continue past the right field to meet Longmeadow Road pavement. In 50 yards, cross left to the Castleman Trailway-signed half-gate onto the footpath. Follow the path to a paths junction by a blue spruce tree. Go left onto the ‘Roman Road’ bridleway and right up Longmeadow Lane Wood’s track with Upton Heath left and ascending gently, passing beneath electricity cables half-way at a paths junction and under a Castleman Trailway railway bridge.
2 Continue up the track, with glimpses of the heath left. Through 1½ gates pass a left farm entrance and continue, progressively steeper, passing a left bank half-gate and right field gate. Reaching Roman Road, keep left. Turn left into Beacon Road and walk to the end. Take the signed bridleway into Dorset Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, following the fenced path between left paddocks and right gardens. Then, bear left, with a bridleway-post, into a bracken-edged path. Past right gates, continue along the path passing two more bridleway-posts, to 1½ bridleway-gates. Through, keep straight on under trees, and through young birches and bracken to a rising gravel section of path. Look out for the left fork gravel path. If you see two right white houses, you’ve gone too far so back-track.
3 Take this left-fork gravel path down through bracken, gorse and heather to the first paths’ crossing. Turn right across the heath, passing a bridleway-post and crossing another crossing. Past another bridleway-post, start descending, passing a left wire fence, to a half-gate. Through, continue down under trees and alongside a left field, to Wareham Road. Carefully cross into Waterloo Road, passing left Naked Cross Nurseries. Enjoy this easy stroll with pavements, scattered houses, trees, fields and good verges after the speed de-restriction sign. After half-mile, take the left ‘Badgers Green’ and bridleway-track down through trees and over the brook before rising between fields, past a left double-gated drive and between houses.
4 Round a right bridleway-arrowed bend, continue up round Cherrett’s Clump wood, then bending right, slightly downhill with a right paddock, to bridleway-signed Rushall Lane. Turn left for a ¾-mile stroll, ascending gently under trees with good security verges, immediately passing left Stony Down Farm, then right Rushall Park Riding Stables, with good views back to Upton Heath, and right Stony Down House. Passing a right track and the elevated pine forest with a ‘Private’ gate, continue for 100 yards to right ‘Forest Hill Lodge East’. Take the left ‘Thistle Down’ and bridleway-signed track opposite. Follow this track for ¾ mile, firstly between fields with views to Purbeck and valleys, fields and woods all around, then descending and undulating under trees to Old Wareham Road’s bridleway-sign.
5 With the Holme Bush Inn to your right, cross over into Beacon Hill Lane. Walk up past several working yards left. Past Dorset Wildlife Trust Centre at the top, pass the MOT Centre and start descending the track, through 1½ gates with Purbeck views over fields ahead. Continue down the Upton Heath Nature Reserve track, below overhead cables and onto the heath itself with fine views. Continue down the path. At pylon/cables’ junction, the track bends right onto open sandy heath. Keep straight on with fabulous Purbeck views, over a little knoll with a broken bench. Descend towards traffic noise, to a T-junction. Keep left on the level route passing a sandy area, and another, before rising past a ‘15’ post to 1½ gates onto the Upton by-pass footbridge.
6 Over, through the kissing-gate, bend left. Take the right path past garages into Heights Road. Turn left, go around the right bend and continue all the way to Heights Approach and Poole Road, Upton. Turn left, cross on the crossing, and continue past Upton Farm to the T-junction before Upton House. Through the entrance gates, you’re back where you started.