Dorset walk - West Bexington and The Knoll
PUBLISHED: 16:52 23 July 2015 | UPDATED: 16:52 23 July 2015
Edward Griffiths enjoys a summer coastal walk which offers panoramic views from the Isle of Portland to Lyme Regis
Walking along Chesil Beach, with its fascinating wild flowers set against sparkling blue water, the views between the Isle of Portland and Golden Cap and Lyme Regis change continually when ascending Tulks Hill. And there’s more to come. After losing and regaining height, the views along the Jurassic Coast from The Knoll are truly breathtaking. So please take your time on this walk, pause and admire the views and enjoy a day by the coast in Dorset.
• Distance: 5 3/4 miles (9.25 km)
• Time: 4 1/2 hours
• Exertion: Fairly strenuous with 750ft of total ascent. Mud on path into Puncknowle.
• Start: West Bexington Pay and Display Car Park (Grid Ref: SY531864)
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194
• Public Transport: First Jurassic X53 to Swyre
• Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock or where requested and on roads
• Refreshments: Bull Inn, Swyre for lunches and bar meals. Blue Anchor Café, West Bexington for coffee, teas, sandwiches and pasties
1 From the Car Park, head east for a total 1¼ miles with Portland ahead and Golden Cap behind. Pass the ‘National Trust West Bexington’ sign. There are many different wild flowers along the beach and the edges of the National Trust fields. After some fine houses and stone-walled garden, continue along the Tarmac drive. Reaching a Coast Path milestone, take the left ‘Hill Fort 1½’ footpath-gateway. Follow the left hedge up to the facing gate/stile.
2 Through, follow East Bexington Farm’s right hedge up and continue beyond left barns to the ‘Footpath’ signposted track turning left to a gate. Through, walk to the next bridleway-gate where the track ends. Through, bear half-right up the wide field towards the slate-roofed house - usually a clear path. Over the hedge’s ‘Hill Fort Walk’ stile, follow the path through blackberry bushes and up the field’s right hedge, with left house, to the ‘Hill Fort Walk’ stile. Over, follow the grassy path through scrub for 50 yards, then take the ‘Tulks Hill’ footpath at the signpost. Follow the grassy and previously muddy path along the bracken-clad hillside. After a stone barn, with ‘Labour In Vain Farm’ footpath left, keep following ‘Tulks Hill’ footpath, ascending the worn path through gorse and blackberries.
3 When the path passes into more open hillside, double back right at the ‘Inland Coast Path’ signpost, up the gorse-clad slopes to the ‘Hill Fort Footpath’ signpost near the B3157. Turn right to the nearby roadside fence’s footpath-stile/gate. Cross, slightly left, to the ‘Litton Cheney Youth Hostel 2½’ stile. Into the top corner, aim down the field to the right wood’s far end, passing a footpath-stile in the fence on the way. Reaching the wood’s far end, at a footpath-gate, follow the same line down the field’s centre, aiming for the right end of a low tree line, which turns out to be a wood. Leaving the field through the bottom left footpath-arrowed corner, join the farm track going left through the wood and past the left thatched cottage. Follow the rising track with a left hedge, then with a right hedge, continuing to the Puncknowle road with a footpath-arrow.
4 Over the opposite ‘Knoll Only’ stile, walk up the track to The Knoll for fabulous views. Then, come back and walk down the lane. In ¼ mile, take the rising left track. Over the footpath-stile/gate, follow the grass track to the end footpath-gate/stile, signed ‘Knackers Hole Footpath’ right. Follow the right hedge down to a stone-stile/gate. Over, continue down the field to the footpath-stile into a boggy path and through trees to the footpath-gate/kissing-gate. Through, continue down the track into Puncknowle, signed back ‘Knackers Hole’. Turn right to visit All Saints’ Church then come back and turn left. In 100 yards take the left ‘Public Footpath’ between houses.
5 Over the end stile, bear half-right across the field. Passing the right hedge-corner, keep the same line towards a stone cottage’s gable-end. Over the stone-stepped stile, in the corner, cross the bridleway-drive. Over the opposite footpath-stile, bear ¼ left down the field, aiming left of the twin-gables, to the footpath-stile into Swyre. Turn left along the road to left Holy Trinity Church. Reaching the B3157, with the Bull Inn left, cross into the ‘Chesil Beach and Coast Path ¾’ path descending to the footpath-gate/kissing-gate into a narrow field with a caravan park left. Continue down to the lower hedge’s footpath-stile/gate into a second field.
6 Continue down the centre to the bottom two-way footpath-gate, half-gate and stile into trees. Take the left footpath into the next field and follow the long meandering thicket down, with a right hill. Don’t miss the left footpath-stile into this thicket. Then, in 50 yards, take the left fork to the footbridge under a tree. Over, push through the long grasses’ path, then along the left-fenced bushes with Chesil Beach ahead and reeds, sedge and grasses right. Reaching the left stile, go over onto the boardwalk through reeds and over the footbridge to the ‘Coast Path’ marker stone. Turn left, walking along the top of Chesil Beach for the best views, back to the Car Park where you started.
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