In the deep dark valley of Turnworth, an inspiration for Thomas Hardy’s most mysterious novel ‘The Woodlanders’, climb up the western slopes to Bell Hill. The ridge splits this section of Dorset in two, to the south are the large open dairies, to the north is the Blackmore Vale filled with patchwork fields and forest. Wander along the ridge to meet the ancient settlement of Ringmoor, its original causeway leading you straight to its heart. Travel back down the steep slopes to the site of Turnworth House, a large estate, burnt to the ground in 1946. Return through the ancient village, which Hardy himself referred to as a hole full of beauty.

Distance:  3.5 miles/5.5km

Duration: 2 hours

Ability: Easy.

Max Height: 850ft.

Min Height: 420ft.

Total climb: 470ft.

Terrain: Path, track, road and field.

Map: OS Explorer 117 Blandford Forum and Beaminster

Start Point: St Mary’s Church (Postcode: DT11 0DZ, Grid Reference: ST821075, What Three Words: hints.chariots.thud)

How to Get There: From Blandford, cross over the bridge, straight over the roundabout and take the second right, up Fair Mile Road. On arriving in Winterborne Stickland, turn right. The Church is high on your left shortly after entering Turnworth.

Dogs: In accordance with the Countryside Code and any notices on route.

Refreshments: None on route but nearby are The Royal Oak in Okeford Fitzpaine or The Crown in Winterborne Stickland.

Neighbouring Walks: Okeford Fitzpaine, Chlid Okeford, The Wessex Ridgeway, Bryanston, Winterborne Stickland, Ibberton Hill and Bulbarrow.

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Walk Excerpts

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