This 18.9 mile (30.4km) circular walk crosses Martin Down and Pentridge Hill before following a track into Cranborne. From Cranborne it follows a bridleway to reach woodland at Pistle Down, before descending across Cranborne Common. It then follows paths and tracks to reach Tidpit Common Down and then returns across Martin Down to the starting point. The walks follows minor roads around Cranborne and has a 500 metre section besides a B road which does not have a pavement so care needs to be taken.
18.9 miles / 30.4 km
6 /7 hours
This walk starts from a car park on Martin Down Nature Reserve the A354 (SP5 5HR) (Grid Ref: SU036200) There are no parking fees.
From the southern end of the car park head out passing a metal barrier besides some information boards. Initially the path heads through shrub but soon reaches the vast expanse of the 850 acre nature reserve.
Follow the track for 400 metres towards the dominant rifle butt. Before reaching the butt take a path on the right (Grid Ref: SU040197) to head across to the Bokerley Ditch. On reaching the ditch turn left and follow it south westerly for 1.6km towards a belt of trees. At a junction of paths (Grid Ref: SU050187) turn right on a footpath with a finger post for the Jubilee Trail. Follow this path besides trees. After passing through a metal gate continue along the edge of an arable field to reach a stile onto access land on Pentridge Down (Grid Ref: SU042180).
Now follow a track steadily ascending the downs. Turn right at a junction of paths (Grid Ref: SU044174) and head towards Penbury Knoll at the summit of Pentridge Down. Pass through the trees and continue on a path to reach a gate, after going through stay on the track as it runs along the top of the down. At a junction of paths close to a wooden gate keep left following the Hardy Way (Grid Ref: SU037164).
Stay with the Hardy Way as it follows a track and then a minor road for 3.75km to reach the centre of Cranborne (Grid Ref: SU054133). After passing the Sheaf of Arrows pub continue to the village store and turn right into Wimborne Street and then turn left into Castle Street passing the Fleur de Lys pub. Follow Castle Street through the village and as the road bends to the left take a minor road, Castle Hill Lane, on the right (Grid Ref: SU059130).
After 300 metres on Castle Hill Lane take a bridleway on the left (Grid Ref: SU058127). This tree lined bridleway, Mill Lane, heads below the Motte and Bailey castle. Stay with Mill Lane ignoring a footpath on the right and a track on the left, After fording a stream pass the site of an old mill. Ignore a lane on the left and continue south on Mill Lane as it continues to the entrance driveway of the Dorset Heavy Horse Centre (Grid Ref: SU078108).
Follow the entrance drive to a junction with a road and continue straight on heading east besides the road, initially with a wide verge, it soon narrows so take care in the traffic. After 500 metres as the road bends to the left continue straight on along a track (Grid Ref: SU084109). The track soon crosses a disused railway line, at a junction of tracks ignore the track on the right and continue straight on, soon entering woodland. At the next junction of tracks take the footpath heading through the trees up Pistle Hill (Grid Ref: SU087109).
The footpath soon joins a forestry track, turn left, (Grid Ref: SU090109) and then after 80 metres turn right on to a track heading towards a telecommunications mast. Near the mast take a footpath on the left (Grid Ref: SU096106). At a track turn right and continue to the edge of Cranborne Common. Follow the path heading north easterly across the common to reach a track (Grid Ref: SU106116).
At a fork in the path go left and then through trees to reach a car park for anglers (Grid Ref: SU103123). The route now follows a track to reach the B3078, cross and take a track into Further Daggons Wood. After passing houses the track continues through the trees to reach Hart’s Farm. Go over a stile and follow the footpath as it heads downhill to a junction of tracks. Here go right passing farm buildings at Lower Daggons to reach a minor road (Grid Ref: SU097134).
After crossing the road join a footpath on the opposite side leading along the edge of Lopshill Common. At a junction of paths turn right heading towards Lopshill Farm. Go through a gate and fork left (Grid Ref: SU091137) to cross access land and then enter woodland and cross a stream. The path heads north through the trees to reach Hyde Cross (Grid Ref: SU089144). Ignore a track on the left and after 175 metres take a path on the right going north east between arable fields (Grid Ref: SU089146).
After 1km the footpath reaches Ashley Park Farm, go left through the farmyard and join Stony Lane. This heads north westerly to reach a minor road at Four Corners (Grid Ref: SU092159). Cross the road and continue on a track heading north west, this briefly joins a minor road and then as the road goes to the left continues on a track passing a pig farm to reach a minor road (Grid Ref: SU069174).
After crossing the road the track heads steadily uphill. At a junction of paths go through a gate onto Tidpit Common Down (Grid Ref: SU065176). Stay with the footpath across the down as it ascends steadily to reach a gate onto Martin Down Nature Reserve close to a Grim’s Ditch (Grid Ref: SU062181).
Take the track that heads to the north and then after 225 metres turn left on a track heading west (Grid Ref: SU062183). After another 225 metres at another junction of paths go right and continue on this track as it continues across the Down to join a bridleway (Grid Ref: SU053190).
At a junction of tracks head north easterly towards the disused Rifle Range. From the Rifle Range Butt stay with the track to return to the start point in the car park.
To follow my walk, you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 118 Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase; and OL 22 New Forest
There are no public toilets.
Toilets are available in the pubs on this route during opening hours.
Cranborne: The Sheaf of Arrows, The Fleur de Lys Inn, Cranborne Stores.
A narrative of this walk with pictures, historical information and points of interest can be viewed on my associated Two Dogs and an Awning website.
© Walking Moonraker (2020)
All information on this site is provided free of charge and in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of damage, loss or injury which might result from it. Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass.