CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today CLICK HERE

Dorset walk: Sydling St Nicholas and Ridge Hill

PUBLISHED: 11:40 03 January 2017

The View from Sydling Drove on Ridge Hill

The View from Sydling Drove on Ridge Hill


Edward Griffiths enjoys this bracing walk across chalk downland and is rewarded with magnificent vistas across the county

The chalk hills either side of Sydling St Nicholas rise to over 700ft in several places and the rainwater that filters down through the chalk feeds the substantial stream called Sydling Water. Even after seasonal downpours, the fast-draining hills above the village are a pleasure to climb. This lovely walk takes us over Shearplace Hill into Pond Bottom and up onto the Sydling Drove ridge, known as Ridge Hill, to enjoy a wonderful stroll with far-reaching views over delightful hills and dales.


• Distance: 4¼ miles (6.75 km)

• Time: 4 hours

• Terrain: Quite strenuous with three significant ascents and undulating downs and field paths. Some puddles after rain

• Start: The old chestnut tree near the village cross, park thoughtfully nearby (Grid Ref ST632994).

• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194

• Public Transport: None. First 213 no longer runs to Sydling

• Dogs: On leads as sheep graze the downs and the fields all year

• Refreshments: The Greyhound Inn, Sydling St Nicholas for bar meals, lunch or coffee

The walk

1. Walk down Dorchester Road passing the Village Hall. In 100 yards, take the signed footpath after the first left house. Over the Sydling Water footbridge and through the kissing-gate, walk up the field to the corner stile. Over onto a concrete track, turn right for ‘Huish’. Continue into the drive and along the grass track to the bridleway-gate into the hillside field. Through, follow the right hedge to the corner bridleway-gate. Through, cross the field with the right brook to the next bridleway-gate. Through, go down the thatched cottage’s drive, through the bridleway-gate and along the track past left barns. Follow the track, bending right and crossing the brook. Before twin-left cottages, take the left gated track with the left flint wall. Past Huish Farm’s left stone barns, through two more gates and the barn-yard, take the twin-gated, hedged chalk track, rising past right twin-cottages.

2. In 300 yards, through the bridleway-gate, bend left at the corrugated-iron roofed low stone barn and start a long ascent on the hedged concrete track. Stop often to admire the views back to Sydling St Nicholas and over the valley to Combe Hill. Reaching the top of Shearplace Hill, with bridleway-gates right and left, the diagonal bridleway across the right field shown on the O.S. map has been replaced by a better ‘Open Access’ route, so continue down the fenced track and through the gate into the field with the ‘Open Access’ information board. Continue down the track with the right fence, bending right into ‘Pond Bottom’ valley. After masses of left gorse, and as a corrugated-iron barn appears ahead, fork left on the grass track, aiming to continue behind ‘Raynard‘s Copse‘, the right wood. On the way up, all around are archetypal rolling hills and valleys, woods, sheep and deer.

3. Through the top corner half-gate onto Ridge Hill downs, go right, veering away from the right fence, aiming up to the top corner clump of trees. Arriving there, go through the 1½ bridleway-gates and walk along the left wood’s edge to the signpost at ‘The Turning Point’. Here five ancient tracks still meet from Dorchester, Sydling St Nicholas, Godmanstone, Frampton and Cerne Abbas as in the days of packhorses, pilgrims to Cerne Abbey, and other travellers. Now, double back to the 1½ gates. Back through onto the downs, follow the right hedge to the bridleway arrow-post and veer left to the facing hedge’s bridleway half-gate. Through, follow the left hedge up the field for 300 yards to the left ‘Higher City Farm 1½’ bridleway half-gate. Through, follow the right hedge to the gate leaving the ‘Access Land’.

4. In the next field, pass the ‘Sydling Drove’ pointer and enjoy the magnificent views over miles of fields, valleys and hills. Through the next gate, follow the track against the right hedge up the field and, passing into another field, start levelling out. The maximum height on this walk is in the right field at 223 metre (725 feet) and Higher City Farm now appears ahead. About ¼ mile before the farm, just past a four-way arrow-post, turn left onto the green track over the field. Descend into the steep valley, and follow the right hedge up the other side and over the top of Eastfield Hill into another field. Descend against the right hedge, with the Sydling valley, church and village straight ahead.

5. Through another bridleway-gate, follow the grass path down the steep field. Go through the next bridleway-gate and continue down the grass track. Through another hedge-gate onto the sunken, hedged bridleway chalk track, continue down, through 1½ gates and down to the ‘Huish’ concrete track where you came out of your first field earlier. Turn right for ‘Sydling St Nicholas’, emerging into Church Hill View at the village green. Follow the lane anti-clockwise around the green and down to the Sydling bridge. Leave East Street opposite the chestnut tree where you started.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dorset visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dorset staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dorset account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Friday, December 7, 2018

This easy walk takes us into Hardy territory as well offering some glorious views towards Weymouth and Portland

Read more
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Here are some Dorset walks, easy and challenging, to get you out and about over the festive period

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

If you’re willing to brave the cold this Christmas Day, check out Dorset’s festive swim calendar for the best organised dips taking place in 2018

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Confusion reigns on the county’s eastern border

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

From festive light switch-ons and Santa’s Grottos, to German Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Dorset this season

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

From your first step, you will see superb views from hilltops and farmland footpaths on this walk

Read more
Sunday, November 11, 2018

Martin Clunes and his family have called West Dorset home for over two decades. Here he shares some of their favourite local places

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

To mark the centenary of the end of World War One we visit some of the memorials erected across Dorset to remember the fallen in the ‘war to end all wars’

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

This lovely walk takes us from watercress beds to a church famous for its life-size carvings of apostles

Read more
Thursday, October 25, 2018

Autumn is a great time to brush up on your gardening knowledge with the help of some experts, as well as see some well known gardens in a different light

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The guide to Dorset’s best firework displays and bonfire events happening in 2018

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Prepare to experience the paranormal this Hallowe’en as Visit Dorset reveals some of the county’s most haunted pubs, stately homes, historic buildings and tanks

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

Dorset villages are some of the most beautiful in England – think winding lanes, thatched cottages and a cosy pub or welcoming tea room. We suggest ten of the prettiest villages to visit in the county

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

Follow in the footsteps of the Romans on this lovely walk that takes in rare habitat, ancient woodland and glorious views

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search