Melbury Abbas

Delve into the deep, lush valley of Melbury Abbas. Discover the hidden church, filled with decorative tiles and topped with a wizard’s hat. It sits on the edge of an ancient road that was used by King Alfred to visit his daughter in Shaftesbury. The route has since carved itself into the soft greensand, creating a deep holloway and a notorious bottle neck for today’s traffic. Continue through the valley of the Melbury Brook alongside lakes, trickling streams and a labyrinth. Follow the trail of the ancient Ox Drove after it has zig-zagged its way down Britain’s bendiest road. Skim Melbury Abbas Mill, sitting on the edge of a large mill pond in the valley of the Sturkel (Stirchell) river having grown from its babbling Melbury Brook. Climb up the foot hills of Melbury Beacon to pass the Manor Farm, old school and stables to return to the church.

Distance:  3 miles/5km

Duration: 2 hours

Ability: Medium. Frequent short sharp climbs.

Max Height: 525ft.

Min Height: 330ft.

Total climb: 285ft.

Terrain: Tracks, paths, fields and roads.

Map: OS Explorer 118 Shaftesbury and Cranborne Chase

Start Point: School Lane, outside the church or, if the space is taken, further up on Quarry Lane

(Postcode: SP7 0EG, Grid Reference: ST880201, What Three Words: seabirds.handsets.makes).

How to Get There: From Blandford travel north on the Higher Shaftesbury Road for just under 8 miles. Carefully begin to descend Spread Eagle Hill then divert left onto School Lane. There is a small space outside the church or alternatively further up Quarry Lane on the right.

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

Refreshments: None on route but a number of options are in nearby Shaftesbury.

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Walk excerpts

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