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Details

  • Start: National Trust South Down car park off the Ringstead Bay road (grid ref SY758824)
  • End: National Trust South Down car park off the Ringstead Bay road (grid ref SY758824)
  • Country: England
  • County: Dorset
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: Beach Café in Ringstead Bay paying car park in summer season. The Sunray, Osmington (01305 832148) is nearby for Sunday roasts and real ale
  • Ordnance Survey: Ordnance Survey Landranger 194
  • Difficulty: Hard
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Description

Edward Griffiths explores the Poxwell Pericline and enjoys some magnificent views over Weymouth Bay

Edward Griffiths explores the Poxwell Pericline and enjoys some magnificent views over Weymouth Bay



Distance: 6km (3 miles) Time: 3 hours Exertion: Moderate to strenuous



For years, geology students have flocked to Dorset to see the Poxwell Pericline, a fine example of an eroded pericline. This is where the various layers of rock, in Poxwells case Portland and Purbeck limestone, have been folded up into a shape resembling an upturned boat, with layers of rock sloping away on all sides. Over millions of years, the top of the elongated dome has been eroded away, leaving a valley with scarp slopes dipping away on both sides. Visible layers of limestone protrude through the grass in the adjacent fields. Ditch-like quarries were worked along the outcrops and, on the walk, we pass an old quarry where the strata are dramatically revealed. For the rest of the walk, paths and tracks pass through two farms, their fields and grazing downland, ending with superb views over Weymouth Bay to the Isle of Portland.



THE WALK



1 Return through the cattle-gridded car park entrance and continue down the tarmac lane for mile, passing the left turning for Ringstead Bay. In 100 yards, take the right footpath-pointered track descending into Lower Dairy Farm in the valley. Keep to the gated track, which becomes concrete then tarmac as you rise through trees and between fields to a right thatched cottage. Through walled woods, emerge onto the A353 south of Poxwell village.


2 Turn right along the pavement, passing the right stone cottage. Next, take the signed right bridleway for Holworth and East Chaldon. Through the 1 gates, veer left to visit the quarry where the sloping layers of limestone which form the southern edge of the Poxwell Pericline are clearly visible. Continue past the ruined limekiln and walk up the track through trees. Emerging onto open downs with the rough shapes of worked-out quarries on the right scarp, follow the grass track near to the scarp. Reaching the right fence, follow it for 100 yards to the corner 1 gates. Through here, turn left up against the left fence.


3 Reaching the crest, there are good views to Warmwell and the Frome valley. Turn right, aiming towards the distant trig point. In 100 yards, veer slightly left on the path to the bridleway-gate. Through this, follow the fenced grass path above the bow end of the pericline boat. When the right fence turns right, follow it. The two bridleway arrows are probably still missing. Veer left to follow the left fence across a shallow valley, passing between left and right gates. Rising for a few yards, go through the next gate into the right field. There are multiple footpath and bridleway arrows. Bear half-right to the valley, but keep to the left side of this valley. Well left of a dead tree with bridleway-arrows, pick up the clear path left of some scrubby bushes.


4 Follow this path along a right fence to the bridleway half-gate. Through this, keep following the grass path through the field near the right fence. The valley is still on the right. Then, veer slightly away from the fence towards the bridleway-pointered gate, apparently in the centre of a clump of leylandii trees. Through the gate, turn right onto the bridleway-track past North Holworth Farm and its duckpond. The concrete track rises to a left water-tank where it becomes level and wet after rain. Passing some left barns, rise to find lovely sea views ahead and to Portland. Descending to a left bend, turn sharp right through the stiled bridleway-gate. Follow the fenced rising track through two more stiled-gates, and past the left Burning Cliff footpath turning, back into South Down car park and enjoy the views over Weymouth Bay.

INFORMATION



Start: National Trust South Down car park off the Ringstead Bay road (grid ref SY758824)



Map: Ordnance Survey Landranger 194



Terrain: Several ascents and descents on tracks and field paths; a few stiles; muddy after rain. Track above North Holworth Farm is puddled after rain



Dogs: On leads where indicated or where there is livestock



Refreshments: Beach Caf in Ringstead Bay paying car park in summer season. The Sunray, Osmington (01305 832148) is nearby for Sunday roasts and real ale

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