Distance: 1.5 miles/2.5km (once at the top of the hill, the route can be as long or as short as you like).
Time: 1 hour
Total climb: 350ft
Max height: 600ft
Min height: 260ft
Terrain: Track, path, road and field.
Start: Lay-by north of Child Okeford.
Map: OS Explorer 118 Shaftesbury and Cranborne Chase
How to get there: From the A357 Blandford road, turn off towards Child Okeford. Drive straight though the village, turning left at a T-junction. Follow the road around, pass the stone cross and fork right. The layby will appear shortly on your right, marked with a post box.
Dogs: On leads where livestock is present and in accordance with any notices on the walk and The Countryside Code.
Refreshments: None on route but The Bakers Arms is situated nearby in Child Okeford
From the lay by head for the footpath that is just next to the house, taking you straight on up towards Hambledon Hill. Go through a kissing gate and you are immediately faced with a steep climb. It can get slippy in wet weather so take care and those that suffer any form of vertigo might experience some wobbly legs. Keep climbing and once you think you’re at the top, climb again, over the last bump. Cattle are often grazing up here so be aware of them.
The views at the top of this hill are amazing. It is no surprise why this location was taken advantage of so seriously in the past. Hambledon is an older settlement that is neighbour Hod. It is a narrow stretch of curved landscape and was hardly a hospitable place to live. Hod is more regimented in style. It covers a larger area too, but is just as defended with its ramparts. Hod was also the location the Romans chose to base one of their forts, due to its easier landscape.
The landscape of Dorset can truly be appreciated up here. No large towns are visible. The roads are minor B roads but only the flashing colours of the cars catching the sun is what can direct you to that human movement. Fields and woodland intermingle, peacefully. Larger estates can slowly appear through the trees as your eyes adjust. To your south is Okeford Hill, blocking what could have been a view to the sea. Instead it is the north and east that is open to view.
Once the exploring at the top is complete, head down the footpath in the top northern corner of the hill (not the way you came up). At the bottom go through a kissing gate and then cut straight through the field. You need to turn left here, but just for an explore go straight ahead to discover a little secret. There is a small stone circle, guarded by llamas, in the field straight ahead. It isn’t an ancient circle, but being in the shadow Hambledon Hill, it can help the imagination flow. Then retrace your steps back to the track to turn right.
Follow the field boundary with the trees on your right to enter into the woods though a darker tunnel. This path is a real treat. Not only does it have a rope swing for everyone to play on, but it is also a Holloway.
A Holloway is an ancient track that has been used so much is has created a deeper tunnel. The roots of the trees begin above, slowly creeping down into the earth around you, while you walk amongst the mole holes and the worms. It’s like an underground world!
Once at the end of the track, you meet a road. Turn left to return to your vehicle.