Thursday, 5 July 2018

Martinstown and Maiden Castle

St Martin's church

We set off from Martinstown (or Winterbourne St Martin) to visit Maiden Castle. It is an attractive linear village with what Pevsner describes as a surprising number of larger gentry houses. We start our walk at the imposing 15th-16th church and follow a path from the back of parallel to the main road. After a short way we spied these cows in the field on our left: they seem to have lined up for a charge, but happily did not make it.

We crossed a lane and continued heading east with a lovely vista of fields to our left.

We crossed the main road and headed up a farm track passing through the substantial Clandon Farm. As we left the farm buildings there was a clear view of Poundbury, Prince Charles's village, which we passed on the way to Martinstown. One of the oddest things about it is that there are no sign posts to it from the main road.

We carried on in the same direction fro a while and then turned right up a small track by a corn field where we had our first view of Maiden Castle.

Soon it was more fully in view. It is one of the largest Iron Age hill forts in Britain. There is evidence of a neolithic enclosure, bronze age barrows and a Romano-Celtic temple.

We decided that the most satisfying thing would be to walk round it: that's how we always like to approach a walled town. So we headed east along the north side.

This is the east end.

And this is the view to the south over undulating country.

Finally, this this south side looking back from near the west end.

It took us about 45 minutes to complete the circuit, suggesting a perimeter of about 2 miles.

We now returned to the circular route from Martinstown and were shocked to be caught in a rain shower. It's been dry for some while and it came as a rather a chilly surprise, albeit quite a short-lived one. We headed south down a long a rather attractive combe and west following the valley of the South Winterbourne stream to return to Martinstown.

Conditions: sunny at first, rain, ending up quite grey.

Distance: 5 miles.

From: Found via Walking in England

Map: Explorer OL15 Purbeck and South Dorset

Rating: four stars.

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