Following ancient droves and footpaths this 18.3 mile (29.5km) circular walk through attractive chalk downland visits a number of interesting locations including Win Green, the highest point on Cranborne Chase.
18.3 miles / 29.5km
7 to 7.5 hours
This walk starts from a small car park next to the village green in Tollard Royal (Grid Ref ST944178).
From the car park head north on a track and soon fork left (Grid Ref: ST944179) to head through a gate and follow The Wessex Ridgeway path as it heads below an escarpment. On reaching a gate (Grid Ref: ST936186) take a path on the right that follows an estate track, part of the Rushmore Estate, and continue on the Wessex Ridgeway through Ashcombe Bottom.
The track divides as it nears Ashcombe House with the footpath following the left fork (Grid Ref: ST933199). Stay on the Wessex Ridgeway path to enter woods before taking a right turn (Grid Ref: ST930203) to head steadily up through woodland to emerge onto access land and continue uphill.
After going through a gate (Grid Ref: ST925204) head across the access land to the Ordnance Survey trig pillar on Win Green (Grid Ref: ST925206). Win Green stands 909 feet above sea level and is the highest point on Cranborne Chase and the views from up here are extensive, on a clear day you can see Salisbury, the Quantock Hills, Glastonbury Tor, the Isle of Wight and Bournemouth.
Now head south westerly towards the National Trust car park and join the Ox Drove (Grid Ref: ST922204) this track heads in a north-easterly direction along the top of the escarpment. Stay on the Ox Drove for 1.8km until reaching a minor road (Grid Ref: ST937207) close to Monk’s Down.
Turn left and follow the road downhill for 30 metres the take a footpath on the right (Grid Ref: ST937207) leading steadily downhill on a tree lined path to join a track, Ashcombe Lane. Having joined the farm track follow it to the outskirts of Berwick St John (Grid Ref: ST942218) turn left onto the tarmac lane, Luke Street, passing Upton Farm. Keep right, staying on Luke Street at a road junction (Grid Ref: ST942221).
Follow Luke Street through the village for another 300 metres to reach the church yard of the 14th century St John the Baptist Church, (Grid Ref: ST945222). Go through the churchyard to reach Church Street (Grid Ref: ST946223). Turn left and walk through the village. [To visit the Talbot Inn do not enter the churchyard but continue down Luke Street. Rejoin the walk in Church Street]
Stay on Church Street for 350 metres to reach a footpath on the right, (Grid Ref: ST943223) leave the lane to enter a field and follow the path in a northerly direction. Soon the path heads uphill to a gate and then continues across a couple of fields to reach access land (Grid Ref: ST942231). Turn left and follow a path around the head of Berwick Coombe.
As the footpath nears the Old Shaftesbury Drove at White Sheet Hill there is a milestone dated 1756 (Grid Ref: ST941241). Now join the Old Shaftesbury Drove, which used to be the main route between Salisbury and Shaftesbury and follows the route of a Roman Road. This whole area is littered with ancient burial mounds. The drove soon passes Long Barrow and then in the field to the left is an Ordnance Survey trig pillar (Grid Ref: ST944242).
The next 4.2km is very straightforward; stay on the Old Shaftesbury Drove as it heads east. On reaching a crossing of paths at the northwest corner of Prescombe Down (Grid Ref: ST981257) take a drove on the left and follow this along to reach another Ordnance Survey trig pillar (Grid Ref: ST983261).
Continue along the track through a gate and then as the route descends turn to the right to join a path heading southeast (Grid Ref: ST984264). This track heads back to reach the Old Shaftesbury Drove (Grid Ref: ST 990260). Cross the drove and continue along the side of a field to reach a junction of paths and turn right (Grid Ref: ST994260). Ignore the path on the left in 65 metres, instead continue straight on across a field and then through a thicket to reach the cracking coombe of Church Bottom (Grid Ref: ST992257).
This is open access land but follow the footpath into the bottom of the valley and then through a gate to enter more access land (Grid Ref: ST991249). It is now a steep ascent up the chalk down. At the top of the hill enter an arable field (Grid Ref: ST990247). Cross a couple of arable fields to reach a junction of paths (Grid Ref: ST987245) turn left and then after 65 metres take a right that heads steadily downhill along the edge of a field to reach a minor road on the outskirts of Ebbesbourne Wake (Grid Ref: ST985244).
Once at the road turn right and walk into the village and cross the River Ebble before turning right towards Alvediston (Grid Ref: ST984242) and head out of the village. This road climbs steadily; as it approaches the brow take a bridleway on the left (Grid Ref: ST982239). The track goes around the edge of fields before heading south (Grid Ref: ST984238).
After 1.7km the track enters access land (Grid Ref: ST983221). The route is now a steady ascent on a sunken path up the downs. Stay on this way marked path to a junction with the Ox Drove (Grid Ref ST983215), here turn right to follow the drove. Stay on the Ox Drove for 3.3km until it meets a minor road (Grid Ref: ST952207). Keep straight on along the road for 385 metres to reach a junction (Grid Ref: ST948206). Here turn left on a track heading south.
In the second field (Grid Ref ST948195) there is a stone to the left marking the location of a Romano-British village excavated by Augustus Pitt Rivers in 1886-7 (Grid Ref: ST949195).
Continue on the footpath as it runs besides Rotherley Wood and continues downhill.
At a gate (Grid Ref: ST949184) pass through and then leave the main track by veering right to head up across the chalk down. Go through a kissing gate (Grid Ref ST948181). The path now follows the edge of fields. Staying with the way marked path enter trees and then gradually descend downhill to reach the village green and pond where the walk started.
There are no public toilets.
Toilets available in the pubs on this route during opening hours.
Berwick St John: The Talbot Inn
Tollard Royal: The King John
To download GPX and print map click “Learn More” below:
To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 118 – Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase
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. To the best of my knowledge the routes are entirely on public rights of way or within areas that are open for public access.
Walking can be hazardous and is done entirely at your own risk. It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass.