Thursday, 21 July 2016

Beaminster to Blackdown Hill (Wessex Ridgeway [Dorset] 8)

St Mary's church, Beaminster

A visit to Poole brings the opportunity to continue along the Wessex Ridgeway in Dorset. We pick up the route in Beaminster soon passing St Mary's. Pevsner thinks the church's tower, which dates from 1501, is the most spectacular in Dorset.

We walk along Church Road and at the extreme west end of the village follow a field path towards Higher Barrowfield Farm. This is the view ahead from there towards Chart Knolle.

A curving, climbing path brings us to the top of the knoll where there is a fine view back towards Beaminster, nestling beneath a ring of hills.

Now there is a descent towards Stoke Knapp. This is the view towards the south.

And this is the way ahead (west).

Reaching Stoke Knapp, we are stuck by a pointed valley below us (we are at around 200m) coming in from the north.

We climb again and skirt Lewsesdon Hill. It is heavily wooded, so you can't readily see the summit - perhaps we should have made a detour, as it is the highest point in Dorset at 279m.

A sunken track, Lewesden Hill Lane, heads downhill to the B3164. There are pleasing views to the south, where we get our first glimpse of the sea on this Path ...

 ... and to the north.

At the end of the lane we slavishly follow the Wessex Ridgeway in a rather pointless U-shaped detour to Lower Newnham Farm. 

At the end of this we climb the steep slope of Pilsdon Pen, passing the iron age hill fort to emerge onto a vast grassy plateau. We lost the track somewhere here, but managed to find our way across the open area to find the right point on the far side.

Soon there is a fine view of Blackdown, curving away to the north.

We followed the rather oblique route down to the B3165 and walked along it past Cole's Cross to reach where we had parked in the hamlet of Blackdown.

Conditions: mild, but pretty grey, with a growing threat of rain.

Distance: 6.5 miles.

Map: Explorer 116 (Lyme Regis & Bridport).

Rating: four stars. A most enjoyable rural walk, if a bit frustrating in places.

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