Sunday, 17 April 2016

Up Cerne to Maiden Newton (Wessex Ridgeway [Dorset] 5)

Up Cerne

A beautiful day to continue with the Wessex Ridgeway in Dorset. We begin by walking away from the hamlet of Up Cerne by following a narrow road up the valley, with a stream on the right.

After about half a mile the path turns left and I fancifully tried for a picture of a candyfloss tree.

At a copse the signs direct you to turn left again. This doesn't quite tally with the map, but is in fact a sensible option. A right and a left bring you to a long ridge leading away to the south from Gore Hill. All the views are across the valley to the west (right): the distant ridge carries the A37 and was once a Roman Road. This is Eastcombe Bottom.

Further along you have Combe Bottom.

This exhilarating straight section continues for about 2.5 miles. Just before crossing a road to the oddly named Higher City Farm, there is a great view up the valley towards Up Sydling.

You turn right at the farm and follow field paths to then begin the descent to Sydling St Nicholas. We had a very nice circular walk here in June 2012.

You cross the main street - the stump on the left is all that remains of the town cross - and walk up the lane that leads to the church.

This leads to a rutted muddy track which curves around eventually bring you to a point above the church where it can be glimpsed through the trees.

A steady, but not too steep, climb brings you towards the top of the worrying named Break Heart Hill. This is the view looking back.

At the very top you cross the Dorchester to Yeovil road (A37) and walk along a hedged farm track. I was thrilled here to see in quick succession my first Orange Tip, Small White and Green-veined White butterflies of the year.

This track continues and then descends to Maiden Newton, where we ended this stage near to the station.

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

Distance: 7.5 miles.

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

Rating: Four stars. 

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