Dorset walk around Wimborne Minster and Leigh Common
PUBLISHED: 11:44 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:44 05 December 2017
Edward Griffiths enjoys a walk through the history of Wimborne. Along the way he finds a lady's carriage drive, a peaceful nature reserve and a pleasant hilltop village
• Distance: 5¼ miles (8.5 km)
• Time: 4 hours
• Exertion: Quite easy. One ascent after Leigh Common. Some urban walking, and some mud
• Start: Minster Church of St Cuthburga, Wimborne (Grid Ref: SZ009999)
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195
• Public Transport: More 13 bus stops scattered around the route
• Dogs: On leads in town and on village roads
• Refreshments: Café culture, inns and takeaways abound in Wimborne Minster
1. Go around the Minster’s west tower to the south side, passing the sundial pillar. Leave into King Street. Cross into Grammar School Lane. Keep turning left to pass Queen Elizabeth I’s Grammar School, founded by Lady Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII’s mother, and rebuilt in 1849 in Tudor style. Emerge into King Street. Turn right. Pass medieval timber-framed No. 5, one of the oldest domestic buildings in Wimborne. Continue past left High Street and right Deans Court Lane which leads to Deans Court, built 1725 on the medieval deanery site for Sir William Hanham. Over the River Allen bridge with ‘Do not Stand’ notice, pass left Park Lane. Continue to the T-junction and turn right into Poole Road.
2. Keep straight on for ½ mile along Deans Court railings and passing the Coach and Horses. Over Canford Bridge, built 1813, cross to the signed ‘Canford Magna FP92’ path which runs left of the driveway behind the hedge before joining Lady Wimborne’s carriage drive about 100 yards before the ornate railway bridge over the driveway. Continue, passing under Wimborne by-pass and ignoring the riverside path, used by rowing coaches on bicycles. The lime avenue continues all the way to Canford School and, at the boat houses, the track becomes Tarmac drive. After the boat houses, fork left across the grass to the River Stour suspension footbridge. Over, turn right to the footpath-stile/gate into a short hedged track with left trees and mud after rain.
3. At its end, take the left footpath-track with left trees and more mud. Continue for ¼ mile. Over the by-pass bridge, take the instant left footpath-gate onto steps. Follow the fenced path alongside the by-pass, undoubtedly overgrown in summer. Over the end footpath-stile, go diagonally right across the field to the far corner or, if planted, keep following the left hedge along the by-pass before turning right to the far corner. Don’t go through the hedge gap, go past the footpath-arrow into the hedged path coming from your left and turn right. Follow this hedged path to the end footpath-signed kissing-gate into Parmiter Drive. Continue to Leigh Road and cross into Northleigh Road. Instantly, go right into Leigh Common lane. In 100 yards along the right wooden fence, go through the kissing-gate into signed ‘Leigh Common’.
4. Follow the meandering firm gravel path, passing a left boardwalk and going over a little stream bridge. Follow the stream right. In another 250 yards, with the road right, take the left firm path away from the road and over a boardwalk. Keep following the firm path to a T. Turn right to the kissing-gate out into a wide field. Turn left along the gravel path to the left corner kissing-gate onto a hedged track. Past left Little Orchard, continue to Leigh Lane. Turn right. Ascending, pass The Vineries left and some footpath signs right. Up to a right-turning driveway, go left into the unsigned barriered path which rises steeply through laurels and trees to a two-way footpath-sign in Park Homer Road.
5. Turn left and go into footpath-signed Kyrchil Way, passing houses with super views. At the end footpath-sign, turn right up to a T-junction. Cross into bushes and through to the 13 bus-shelter. Turn right along Wimborne Road to the four-ways junction at Colehill centenary green. Opposite the Co-Op, turn left for ‘Furzehill 1’ along Smugglers Lane. Reaching St Michael and All Angels, turn left into Colehill Lane. Pass the Middle School. At the five-ways junction with the war memorial, turn right for ‘Wimborne Minster 1½’. Follow Wimborne Road past various age houses, Beaucroft School, several lefts and rights and Colehill Sports Club.
6. Continue into Rowlands Hill, descending and bending right at a mini-roundabout. At the bottom, turn right into Hanham Road, passing the old police station. Cross Allenview Road at the roundabout and keep straight on, passing another roundabout and Allen Bridge. At Allendale House, built 1823, cross at the crossing and continue along Hanham Road to West Borough traffic lights. Turn left. Pass the Tivoli Theatre, converted to a cinema around 1930. Pass the late 18th-century Kings Head in The Square. Cross into pedestrianised Church Street and return to Wimborne Minster.
• 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