Charlton Down

Explore the undulating landscape of Dorset’s chalk downlands; large open fields, scattered with crumbling barns, ruins and abandoned villages. Wander along the old road that linked two Victorian mental asylums before the older building was closed. Follow the little River Cerne, known to be one of the prettiest in the county as it passes old manor houses on its way to meet the Frome. Return by climbing the hills, the ridge top peppered with ancient tumuli, Roman remains and views over Dorset’s county town.

Distance: 6 miles/9km

Duration: 3 hours

Ability: Easy.

Max Height: 525ft.

Min Height: 275ft.

Total climb: 450ft.

Terrain: Track, path, road and field.

Map: OS Explorer 117 Cerne Abbas to Bere Regis.

Start Point: Hornbeam Road, Charlton Down. (Postcode: DT2 9FD, Grid Reference: SY678950, What Three Words: empires.orders.shredder).

How to get there: From Dorchester, travel north on the B3146 to then turn right, after Lidl, onto Westleaze. After nearly 3 miles, turn left onto Herrison Road. Curve around to enter Charlton Down and take the first right onto Meech Way. At the T-junction, turn right and at the next turn left. Turn right to join Hornbeam Road and parking will appear on the right.

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

Refreshments: None on route but nearby are The Saxon Arms in Stratton and the The Sun Inn on the outskirts of Dorchester.

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