Sturminster Marshall Circular

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Lowland and Hill Walks
Apr 06

17 people attending

3 places left

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Distance is 22 km (13 miles); total ascent is 167 m; terrain is gently undulating with a couple of small climbs; surfaces are dirt, grass and tarmac.

This wonderful wander around the eastern edge of Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be mostly across the meadows meandered through by the the River Stour. This clear chalk river provided the first syllable of the name of the principal settlement we'll see and start and finish the walk at: Sturminster Marshall. The floodplain and hills roundabout are dotted with forts, encampments and barrows whch attest the area's prehistoric importance.

So our route, which unfolds across meadows, along lanes, before cottages and over streams (using some very fine medieval and Tudor bridges), briefly shifts up a gear to ascend Badbury Ringsan Iron Age hill fort and most imposing of all those locally, which was held by the Durotriges tribe. In the Roman era a temple was located immediately west of the fort, and there was a Romano-British town known as Vindocladia a short distance to the south-west. On a clear day the Isle of Wight may be seen from atop the centre of the hillfort's concentric defensive rings.

Our walk will finish after we've skirted the grounds of the supremely suave seventeenth century mansion of Kingston Lacy; perhaps we'll see the house at a distance through the trees. The route may just skirt the grounds but all of it runs through what was the vast estate that belonged to the venerable Bankes family before it passed, as the last of the line was childless, to the National Trust.

Dogs are welcome to join us on this event but we do ask the following: Please ensure you adhere to the Countryside Code at all times (see Keeping Dogs Under Effective Control).If your dog is uncontrolled and strays in open land frightening other animals or livestock, the leader is supported by the OutdoorLads board of trustees to ask you to leave the event as this is not acceptable behaviour.

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(Picture credits: Entrance to Badbury Rings by Jim Champion (cropped top and bottom); White Mill Bridge by Mike Faherty; Crawford Farm by Nigel Mykura; Tarrant Rushton, Charlton Cottage by Mike Faherty; Walden Cottage, Sturminster Marshall by Maigheach-gheal; Thatched cottages, Shapwick by Robin Webster; Tarrant Keyneston, Manor Farmhouse by Mike Faherty; Inside St. Mary,Tarrant Crawford 9 by Basher Eyre; Weir on the River Tarrant near Tarrant Crawford by Maigheach-gheal; Tarrant Rushton, The Tarrant by Mike Faherty; Tarrant Rushton, Charlton Cottage by Mike Faherty; Ditches and ramparts at Badbury Rings hill fort, Dorset by Phil Champion; Lodge Farm House near Kingston Lacy by Mike Searle;  Bridleway, Kingston Lacy by Maigheach-gheal. All pictures are attributed to their copyright holders and are licensed for re-use under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0.)