Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Wimborne Minster

After the excitement of two walks along the South West Coast Path in recent days, we thought we wold have a gentle exploration of Wimborne and were delighted to find this walk on the AA website.

The walk begins to the north east of the town at a car park near the Eye Bridge over the Stour. You start by walking across meadows towards the town. This is a view of the river looking back towards the bridge.

Once in the town, you walk along West St to reach The Square - quite attractive and dominated by the 18th century King's Head Hotel, but busy with buses, cars and taxis - and then walk down Church St to reach the Minster.

This fine church is essentially Norman inside and Gothic outside, dominated by its two fine towers - the 15th century West Tower and the 12th century Crossing Tower.  This is the view looking up the crossing tower from below.

Up a narrow staircase nearby is the extraordinary Chained Library installed in 1686 for the citizens of Wimborne. The chains prevented enthusiastic readers taking the books away. The helpful custodian told us that it is one of only four in the whole country.

We left the Minster to walk along the High Street past the Church Office, a reasonable imitation of the style of the Minster dating from 1906.

Then up East St and into Poole Road where we saw this fabulous pair of semis in a wonderful mixture of Georgian and Venetian Gothic styles, with extraordinary curved entrances to the porches.

The route then led over Canford Bridge and through a housing estate to emerge in the water meadows across from the town. After a short way, the route continued along a former road beside the A31 - presumably the old A31. It looks rather forlorn as nature gradually reclaims it.

A bit further on you join a current road and pass Merley Hall Farm. The farmhouse was a curious mixture of elements: two apparently separate structures either side of this handsome chapel-like structure with a dutch gable.

A bit further along we stopped to admire an elaborate pair of Victorian cottages which seemed very similar to some we had noticed on the outskirts of Poole. The young owner came and chatted to us and explained that they were Lady Wimborne Cottages. They were built by the owner of the Canford estate for estate workers. There were apparently 111 of them and they all display a unique number unconnected to the local street number.

After crossing the A31, we joined the water meadows again. As we walking along we noted a general similarity to the water meadows around Salisbury where we walked last November. We were just saying what a shame it was that there was no view of the Minster, when its towers popped into sight between the trees. They were briefly visible and were lit for a moment by sunlight.

This path brought us back to the Eye Bridge where a number of local children were enjoying a dive into the river.

Conditions: sunny intervals.

Distance: 4 miles.

Map: Explorer 118 (Shaftesbury and Cranbourne Chase).

Rating: three and half stars


We saw a couple of Egrets on the river, but the main excitement was a pair of Goldcrests.

1 comment:

Graham said...

The later paragraph which commences "The route then led over Canford Bridge ..." goes on to suggest that the photo below is "presumably the old A31". May I correct this? The old road shown is in fact a section of Willett Road, now cut off by the (new) A31, and no longer accessible by traffic. The western end of Willett Road is still in use and gives access to a number of houses and farms. The old A31 used to pass through the centre of Wimborne, via Leigh Road to the east and Julians Road to the west.