Saturday, 2 April 2016

Folly to Up Cerne (Wessex Ridgeway [Dorset] 4)

Ball Hill

On the the third day of our exploration of the Dorset part of the Wessex Ridgeway we set out from the hamlet of Folly and climbed Ball Hill (250m), passing slightly to the left (south) of the highest point. There was a lovely view to the south.

We skirted Watcombe Wood and emerged onto the wide, grassy Church Hill to see a long open section stretching before us. This was very welcome as the previous day's walking had been quite fragmented, needing careful attention to signs and map.

At the end of the initial straight grassy path, a stony track stretched out ahead, clearly involving a descent into a valley and then a possibly steep climb up to the next ridge: the inland version of seeing a cove ahead on the coast.

It was nice to steam ahead along a well-defined track and this brought us down to cross the B3143 just north of Alton Pancras. A sustained, but not too arduous climb, brought us to Black Barn and just past there we enjoyed this lovely dry valley below us to the right.

The hill at the left end of it has some marks on the turf which we thought suggested an animal - an echo of the Cerne Abbas Giant or the many White Horses to be found on chalk hills in the south. We thought we could see a dragon or maybe a Wyvern, symbol of the Wessex Ridgeway.

After crossing another road and a vast ploughed field we found ourselves above Giant Hill with a simply wonderful view across to Minterne Parva, a farm, a big house and a few cottages.

The view a little to the south was also spell-binding.

We descended into Minterne Parva and admired this large round building, presumably a former dovecote. On the right in the photo is one of the distinctive, and very effective, Wessex Ridgeway signposts.

We crossed the A352 and followed the road into Up Cerne, enjoying the sight of our first lambs of the year.

Up Cerne is tucked away in a valley and has a few charming thatched houses, with a small stream flowing by and a fine manor house.

Conditions: A lovely sunny day, with temperatures reaching 13 or 14 degrees.

Distance: 5.5 miles.

Maps: Explorer 117 (Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis).

Rating: Four stars.

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