Sunday, 8 March 2015

Ashmore to Shroton (Wessex Ridgeway [Dorset] 1)

A very exciting day: we have started another Long Distance Path - the Wessex Ridgeway, or at least the Dorset section of it. (We plan to do the Wiltshire section when we have completed our current project with Merv and Pud to do The Ridgeway.) We started at Ashmore, where we enjoyed an excellent circular walk in January. Today's weather is rather grey, so I am heading this post with the rather lovely picture of Ashmore pond I took in the afternoon sunshine on that occasion.

We headed off  past the church and soon turned left along a bridleway named Halfpenny Lane. This led due south across wide open country. We admired a curious circular dip across to the left.

After a mile or so the path enters Ashmore Wood at Upper Broadbridge Copse. This is a pleasant woodland with quite widely spaced trees.

Reaching the edge of the wood, we negotiated the confusing sign which had waymarks pointing in both directions and turned right to follow a track just inside the edge of the wood. This descended gradually to bring us a steep climb through Hanging Copse. The same both-way way marks were present here, but our walk book happily provided clear directions.

It was by now even greyer than when we started, so the next section is without benefit of photography. We followed a field edge to emerge from the wood, follow a road for a bit and then turn left into Lime Pit Coppice, a pleasant woodland with a valley-bottom path. At the exit, there was a fine example of the local finger post signs.

Crossing another road we followed a winding logging trail through more woodland. Suddenly you emerge from the wood to see a beautiful bowl in the wide open fields to the left.

The path now continued straight ahead to Shroton and the weather perked up as a lovely view opened up of the village with Hambledon Hill (which we crossed on the Stour Valley Path last year).

Shroton (pronounced shrow-ton) has the alternative name of Iwerne Courtney (imaginatively pronounced u-ven Courtney). Our taxi driver assured us that no-one ever uses that name. It remained only to walk into the village to regain our car and walk home.

Conditions: about 10 degrees, mostly grey, some slight drizzle.

Distance: 6 miles.

Book: Walk Dorset by Charles Davis (one long section describes the whole 60 mile route).

Map: Explorer 118 (Shaftesbury and Cranbourne Chase).

Rating: four stars. An auspicious beginning, even though the weather was rather disappointing.

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