WALK 2 – NORTH SIDE OF HAMBLEDON HILL
This walk offers fine views, in the early stages towards the northern end of the hill, then from its flanks extensively to the East and North.
A. From the Cross turn right (not up to the church, but the road signed Shaftesbury etc) and walk up the road past the Surgery. Turn left into the drive of Yew Hedge House, then go through 2 gates to follow a path between the fences. Go through a gate at the bottom, then a pond is seen on the right, perhaps with wildlife such as moorhens, mallards and Canada geese. Parts of the path may be muddy here. Cross a bridge and go through the gate. Take the middle one of 3 arrowed routes, heading towards the centre of a small copse to find a stile which is seen from the brow of the field. Follow an interesting path through the copse in a pleasant hollow. Cross the bridge with a handrail on the left, then at once cross a stile.
B. Keep right along the field edge. About half way along, turn right through 2 wooden gates with a bridge between. There is a good view back to the village, with the church on the skyline. Veer left across the next field and turn left through a wooden kissing gate after the farm building and gate, then veer right into the lane near Abergavenny Farm, and reach a junction at Ridgeway Lane.
C. Turn right along the lane. There are intermittent views on either side. Hambledon Hill is seen on the right, and in the distance to the left are Sturminster Newton and Hinton St. Mary. (NOTE route leaves map and then returns). Where the lane ahead narrows and curves to the right with a gate on the left, turn right down a lane (Common Drove) towards Hambledon Hill. The lane passes a pond on the left (a heron and geese may be seen). Continue onto a tarmac track and keep straight on to reach the road at the end of the lane. The road to the right leads back to the village.
D. Our route goes left along the road. At ‘Hambledon Heights’ on the right, turn right with cottages on the right, go through a gate and over a stile, then follow a faint track ahead uphill. The path passes to the left of an elaborate stone circle, dating back however not to Bronze Age times but to the early 21st Century. As the path rises there are extensive views to the left and behind, including Melbury Beacon, Compton Abbas Airfield, Duncliffe Hill and Guy’s Marsh prison. Cross a stile and follow the fence on the left. Cross the next stile. (The bridleway to the right leads to Sandy Lane – may be muddy – which comes out to the road and thus leads back to the village). Follow the narrow path ahead across a field. There are excellent views of the eastern ramparts of Hambledon Hill on the right. At the end of the path turn right and walk up to a gate at the bottom of the hill (may be muddy), pause and turn to admire the panorama, with Clayesmore School and Iwerne Minster prominent. From the gate, walk up a short steep section and turn right. (The hill may be explored by ascending the steep bridleway on the left). Our path goes straight ahead, passing over hummocks. The path then contours around the North flank of the hill at its base, affording fine views to the North. Eventually it reaches a metal kissing gate at the top of the ‘Pine Walk’.
E. Go down ‘Pine Walk’ – mostly ash and sycamore now but with a few pine stumps still showing. At the end, go through a wooden kissing gate, turn left through another kissing gate and walk along the right-hand edge of the field. At the far corner, go through a kissing gate and down steps. Turn right then left into the road, and turn left at the end to reach the Cross.