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Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway

There are currently 1 comments and 10 photos online for this walk.

Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway
Author: Claire, Published: 15 May 2015 Walk Rating:star1 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide star1 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide star1 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide star1 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide star1 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide
Dorset, North Dorset
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide boot Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide boot Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide
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A 5 mile fairly strenuous walk on the Dorset Downs around the village of Turnworth. The walk will take you along a beautiful ancient track, passing Bonsley Common (said to be the best place in Dorset to see bluebells in the spring) down to the village of Turnworth. From here you will follow the path back uphill through crop fields and pastures to join a stretch of the Wessex Ridgeway which leads you back to the car park. The views for most of the walk are spectacular and on a clear day you will be able to see for miles around.

The walk has several climbs and descents throughout, including a couple of steep sections. The paths through woodland can get very muddy so good stout boots are a must. There is a short stretch of road walking so take care of traffic at this point. The return footpath across pastures and crops is not particularly well-defined or managed, so you may need to walk around the rough edges of crop fields and also to duck under an electric fence along the way (we have reported both these issues to the local council). You will need to negotiate several gates plus one stile (which has wire fence surrounds so dogs will need a lift over). You may be sharing one of the pastures with cattle so take care with dogs. There are no facilities or refreshments on route, but there are picnic benches alongside the car park at the start of the walk. Allow 2 to 2.5 hours.

Turnworth is a small village located about 5 miles west of Blandford Forum in Dorset. The walk starts and finishes from the Okeford Hill picnic site and car park, about one mile north of the village. The post code DT11 0EE will take you to the village itself. Travel about one mile north along the narrow lane and at the brow of the hill you will find the entrance to the car park on the left. The entrance is fairly narrow so, if needs be, there is a gravel lay-by just a short distance further along on the right.

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Walk Sections

Start to Bonsley Common
Start to Bonsley Common

Start point: 50.8834 lat, -2.2684 long
End point: 50.877 lat, -2.2566 long

Leave the picnic site car park through the vehicle entrance and turn right along the road (taking care of any traffic). After just a short distance, turn left down the wide stone track signed as the bridleway to Shillingstone. Continue for about 150 metres, passing through a metal vehicle barrier gateway, to reach the corner of Okeford Hill woodland (marked with a Forestry Commission sign).

Turn right here onto the smaller bridleway signed to Bonsley Common. Follow this path with woodland to the left and a line of trees to the right. Where the woodland on the left ends, turn right through the gap between fence posts and then turn left to join the wide grass track (with crop fields to the right and a hedge line running on the left). Take time here to enjoy the expansive views across the rolling hills to the right, the Dorset Downs.

Pass through the gateway ahead and continue along the wide grassy ride. Where the crop field on the right ends, go ahead through the gateway to join the unmade track, with the woodland of Bonsley Common on the left.

Bonsley Common to Turnworth Village
Bonsley Common to Turnworth Village

Start point: 50.877 lat, -2.2566 long
End point: 50.8667 lat, -2.2553 long

The woodland of Bonsley Common is a mix of conifer plantation and beech trees but is particularly noted for its display of woodland flowers. In spring you will be able to enjoy carpets of bluebells, red campion, celandines and wild garlic.

Follow the track ahead (which can get very muddy at times) and where the woodland on the left ends, stay ahead on the main track which bears right then left and continues between hedgerows. After about 0.25 miles you will come to a crossroads of paths marked with a fingerpost. Turn right and follow the bridleway between dense hedgerows. Your path soon begins to descend, passing a barn on the right and leading you out to a T-junction with the road. Turn right along the road, taking care of any traffic, and follow it into the village of Turnworth.

You will pass the Old Rectory on the left and then reach St Mary’s Church also on the left. The tower at the back of the church dates from around 1500 but the rest was rebuilt in the 1860s. Inside the church, the stone columns and capitals are ornately carved with elaborate decoration of various types of foliage inhabited by song birds, an owl and sand lizards. These have been carved to a design by Thomas Hardy, the novelist. Hardy was born into a family of builders and stonemasons and at the age of 16 he began architectural studies with John Hicks. It was whilst working for Hicks that Hardy created these designs. Later, he changed career to become a writer and became famous for his novels. If you are not able to enter the church, there are some pictures of the stone carvings in the walk gallery.

Turnworth Village to Turnworth Drive
Turnworth Village to Turnworth Drive

Start point: 50.8667 lat, -2.2553 long
End point: 50.8702 lat, -2.2678 long

Continue through the village passing the Old Orchard cottage on the right (with the tell-tale fruit trees on the grass bank behind) and, further along, the Old Post Office also on the right (with a post box and telephone box alongside). Immediately after the Old Post Office, turn left onto the stone track signed as a bridleway. The paths from this point become less well-defined so take careful note of the instructions...

Pass the cottage and outbuildings on the right, pass through the wooden gateway and then fork immediately right (marked with a yellow arrow on a post) heading diagonally up the field. Pass to the left of the copse of trees and then a single oak tree and then pass to the right of the next lone oak tree. In the top field corner you will emerge to a junction with a farm track. Turn right through the gap in the hedge and you will have a large crop field in front of you.

From this point the official line of the footpath heads diagonally left across two crop fields. If this path is visible then take it to reach two oak trees at the end of the second field. However when we walked, the dense rape crop made this route impassable. If this is the case turn left along the grass track and, when the first section of crop on the right ends, turn right to follow the rough field edge with a line of trees on the left. Continue until you find a wide gap in this line of trees and then dog-leg left then right to continue with the trees on the right (this can be a little overgrown). In the field corner turn left and continue until you reach the two oak trees.

Between the two oak trees you will find a stile that leads you into the top of a hillside pasture (which may be holding cattle). Standing with your back to the stile, walk at about 10 o’clock heading for the long driveway visible in the valley bottom. Once you reach the brow of the slope, you should find a single waymarker post sitting on the ridge. From this point, take a moment to enjoy the views. Across to the right in the valley bottom you will see Turnworth House, a fairly modest house but with a very impressive walled garden.

Look to the left and you will see two wide gates (one in the bottom corner and one a little further up in the left-hand boundary). Head down to the one set in the left-hand boundary (it sits in front of a barn and at the end of a track running along a ridge within the field). Pass through the metal gate (NOTE: you may need to unhook the electric fencing to do this) and follow the track past the barn and swinging right to reach a T-junction with the access drive.

Turnworth Drive to Wessex Ridgeway
Turnworth Drive to Wessex Ridgeway

Start point: 50.8702 lat, -2.2678 long
End point: 50.8774 lat, -2.2803 long

Turn left along the tarmac driveway to draw level with Okeden House on the left, where you will find a fork. Bear right, following the tarmac branch which leads you steeply uphill. The driveway dwindles to a stone track and then leads you through a gate to become a fenced track through a belt of trees.

When the trees on the right end, you will come to a T-junction with another track. (The official footpath turns left for about 100 paces and then forks right across the field. However the field was surrounded by electric fencing when we walked so it was easier to enter the field at the T-junction where the fencing could be unhooked.) With the woodland behind you, walk diagonally left across the field, passing just to the left of the stack of logs in the field centre.

As you approach the line of trees on the opposite boundary, walk left for just a few paces to reach the point where the older trees ends and a section of very young trees begins. You should see the footpath waymarker post here (although you may have to duck under the electric wire to reach it – please do take extreme care, we have reported this problem to the local council).

Follow the grass track with the young trees on the left and older oak trees on the right. The path swings right and leads you to a wooden gate. Go through this to enter a pasture and turn left, walking parallel with the fence line on the left. As you walk along you may notice a number of ridges and rings within the pasture, signs that this was once an ancient settlement, Ringmoor. Where the fence on the left steps back, keep ahead across the rest of the pasture to reach a wooden gate.

Go through this, pass an overgrown pond on the left and pass through a second gate to reach a T-junction with a track, part of the Wessex Ridgeway.

Wessex Ridgeway to End
Wessex Ridgeway to End

Start point: 50.8774 lat, -2.2803 long
End point: 50.8837 lat, -2.2684 long

Do NOT take the stile opposite, instead turn right along the track. As you proceed, expansive views open up ahead and to the left of the rolling chalk hills. The Wessex Ridgeway is a long distance path which runs for 136 miles from Marlborough in Wiltshire to Lyme Regis in Dorset. For this stretch it follows a natural high ridge within the Dorset Downs.

Keep directly ahead along the main track for 0.75 miles. Just before you reach the crossroads with the main road, fork left passing through the picnic site to reach the car park where the walk began.

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network Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 comments for "Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway"

Lovely walk, did get difficult to find the way at one point, but the instructions did say it got fuzzy where the path was. The electric fences are still an issue but very well put together instructions.

By softraen on 26 Nov 2015

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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10 gallery images for "Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway"

4480_0Richard1431675957 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 15 May 2015
This is the path near the beginning of the walk that takes you to Okeford Hill woodland.
4480_1Richard1431675957 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 15 May 2015
Claire and Bobbie with the wild garlic. Bobbie has her 'cool' coat on as it was a hot day in May when we walked the route.
4480_0Richard1431677134 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 15 May 2015
There are great views along most of the walk.
4480_1Richard1431677134 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 15 May 2015
Richard and Bobbie.
4480_2Richard1431677135 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 15 May 2015

4480_3Richard1431677135 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 15 May 2015
This was taken as we were entering the village of Turnworth.
4480_0Richard1431677705 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 15 May 2015
We were not able to enter the church when we passed, but we managed to find these images of the carvings. This one is the carved stone capital with sand lizards. (Courtesy of http://www.dorset-churches.org.uk/turnworth.html)
4480_1Richard1431677706 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 15 May 2015
Carved owl on tower arch capital.
4480_0spurs4cup1496407167 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Image by: Sussex Walker
Uploaded: 02 Jun 2017
E9DE303A-DE5F-4CCC-BED0-BEE3B06BEB8E.JPG
4480_0spurs4cup1496411608 Turnworth and the Wessex Ridgeway Walking Guide Image by: Sussex Walker
Uploaded: 02 Jun 2017
B1F84989-98FF-4805-AA55-DA8D09A2BC55.JPG

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