Dorset Walk: Bryanston and North Dorset
PUBLISHED: 12:33 03 September 2014
Edward Griffiths enjoys a splendid summer walk which features the newest section of the North Dorset Trailway
Last year, the section of the North Dorset Trailway was opened between Stourpaine and Blandford Forum, making a complete off-road route between Blandford and Sturminster Newton, for pedestrians, cyclists and electric mobility scooters (with enough range). It’s this new section of the Trailway that features in this varied walk. Having strolled along the River Stour, passed through Blandford St Mary and walked the long road up to Bryanston village, followed the tortuous route circumnavigating Bryanston School’s extensive grounds and descended through The Hanging woods, enjoyed a long easy stroll past meadows and cornfields into Durweston. You pass Durweston Mill before picking up the Trailway for the return journey.
Distance: 6 1/2 miles (10.25km)
Time: 4 1/2 hours
Exertion: Not too strenuous but with a couple of slow ascents. Some mud after rain. Return is easy along the flat Trailway.
Start: Milldown Car Park, Milldown Road, Blandford (Grid Ref: ST882074)
Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194
Public Transport: Damory Coaches 83, 183, 184, 309, 310, 311, 368, 387
Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock and on roads
Refreshments: Countless inns, pubs and cafés in Blandford for lunches and bar meals
1 From the lime avenue, cross the railway bridge and turn right down the approach track. Follow the North Dorset kTrailway, mostly through a long cutting, ignoring all on/off slips. Through a tunnel and arch, arrive at the iron footbridge and leave the Trailway. Cross the car park (£1.50 for 10 hours) and turn right down Damory Court Road. Continue down to Wimborne Road traffic lights and cross into Langton Road. Turn into the Co-Operative’s car park and go left round to Langton Meadows. Take the right path, down to the footbridge. Go over this footbidge then turn right onto the gravel path along the River Stour.
2 Over the blue bridge above the weir, go down the first left steps and cross the grass to the footbridge and continue across to the steps up into West Street. Cross Blandford Bridge to the mini-roundabout. Cross over, past right Bryanston School gatehouse, into Blandford St Mary with The Stour Inn down to your left. Take first right New Road, signed ‘Bryanston (School) 1¼’. Continue up this road for ¾ mile along Bryanston School’s brick-and-flint wall and with nice views left over fields. At the top, go right for ‘Bryanston ½’. Follow the bending road past Forum View and, as ‘The Cliff’, continue under trees passing red-brick cottages and another Forum View.
3 Reaching the telephone box, go through the left Stour Valley Way (SVW) and footpath kissing-gate. Turn half-right down the field to the bottom corner kissing-gate under chestnut trees. Through, pass right Bryanston Club and continue down past the two-way footpath post, past left old stables, right estate cottages and left Home Farm to a T-junction. Around the right bend, double-back left. In 50 yards, take the right footpath-track down into the green track left of the rendered cottages. Go through the SVW/footpath kissing-gate. Walk straight up the field to the footpath-stile into a fenced path. Turn left to the end kissing-gate.
4 Cross the lane, with Bryanston’s buildings up to your right. Through the kissing-gate, with a footpath-arrow on the first electricity post, follow the right hedge. After 50 yards, go over the right footpath-stile. Walk up the paddock to the footpath-stile. Over, turn left up the fenced track, through the nearby SVW-gate, to the end right footpath-stile. Over, follow the left hedge over the high field with Hambledon Hill ahead. Down to the left corner stile, turn right for 100 yards along the hedge to the footpath-stile/gate. Over this, walk straight down, over a crossing track, and down the stepped path through The Hanging woods. Down to a T-junction footpath-post, turn right. Reaching a crossing track, keep going right, bending to Bryanston School drive.
5 Turn left. Leave through Middle Lodge gates and follow the fenced road for ¾ mile to Durweston, passing a left bridleway, a right SVW-post, left Knighton House drive, right Village Hall, primary school and St Nicholas’ church. At the road’s end, turn right down Milton Lane. Take the first left lane with the thatched corner cottage. Bend around right to the A357 war memorial corner. Cross over and turn left to the right bridleway-track. Walk down to Durweston Mill. Bend left to cross the sluice bridge and right along the bridleway-track. Over the River Stour footbridge, continue under the railway arch where the left footpath leads into Stourpaine. But go right up the path to join the old railway track embankment.
6 Follow the Trailway above the fields, under a road arch, past a left slip and past the perforated iron sculpture group. Through the end barrier, cross to the ‘2 Blandford Trailway’ and continue above the right A350 for another mile, with good views right to The Hanging wood before a left valley of arable fields. Path rises gently and swings right, passing a left barn, bend left/right down to the By-Pass ‘1¼ Blandford Trailway’ tunnel. Finally, at the very high fenced embankment, take the left ‘Milldown’ steps/path to the top T-junction. Turn right along the track to the Milldown bridge, turning right to the car park under the lime trees.