The North Dorset Trailway

Originally part of the Somerset and Dorset railway line, the trailway stretches from Sturminster Newton to Blandford Forum. It traces the majority of the old railway line, with only a few diversions, due to modern development.

The route is a mix of tarmac and gravel so easily accessible to all, cyclists, walkers, riders and wheelchairs. There are also a number of places to start or stop the route, making it as long or as short as you want it to be. Footpaths and bridleways can take people frequently off the trailway and to a number of other sites including woods and hill forts.

The new gates at Sturminster Newton.

The trailway begins at Sturminster Newton, a small market town with a number of pubs and cafes. There are hopes to extend the trailway to the north to reach Stalbridge. Currently the route starts at the market place car park.

Looking towards Fiddleford

The following village the route passes is the village of Fiddleford. Fiddleford is the location of Fiddleford Mill and Fiddleford manor, which is open to the public, free to enter and possible to walk to from the trailway. There is a good swimming spot on the river Stour and a pub near called the Fiddleford Inn.

The bridge over the River Stour at Fiddleford.
Fiddleford – good place for a dip!

As you near the road to Child Okeford, you divert off the original route to pass Bere Marsh Farm. This has recently been bought by The Countryside Restoration Trust as their largest project yet. It aims to promote sustainable and traditional farming methods and habitat restoration. The area is already rich in butterflies, birds, wild flowers and rare mammels.

The bridge at Child Okeford
Shillingstone Station

Crossing over the road and passing an old bridge you then join back onto the trailway to enter into Shillingstone. Shillingstone is home to the only existing station building along the route. Managed by a charity, there is also a café and a little museum to visit. They are currently in the process of introducing a working railway line, having even made the bridge over the road ready for the engines to cross once again!

The view to Hambledon Hill

Between Shillingstone and Stourpaine the route peaks and troughs to accommodate existing and buried bridges. Hambledon Hill and Hod Hill, two Iron Age hillforts, tower above the fields to the north of the trailway.

On the way to Stourpaine

As you approach Stourpaine, you are diverted off the original route and into the village, where another pub is situated. Follow the signs past the church to get back onto the trailway, past the old Stourpaine Holt and under the main road. You have a small climb after the bridge that brings you out into open fields, continuing parallel to the main road.

The cutting through Blandford

Follow the trail under the main road again to enter into Blandford. You pass the Milldown nature reserve on your left and enter into the town. The trailway is sunken away from the bustling activity and you are unaware how central you become. Blandford is also full of pubs and cafes. The end of the trailway brings you just to the north east of the town centre.

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