Valley of the Stones

Delve deep into the historic Land of Stone and Bone. Starting at a landmark, visible for miles around and stood on an ancient route which follows the South Dorset Ridgeway, sink into the surrounding heathland. Follow ancient tracks through thick woodland while skimming a Bronze Age cemetery and an animal graveyard. Pass deep gravel pits, rising barrows and a suspected Roman signal station, its foundations built during the Bronze Age. Continue down into the mystical landscape of the Valley of the Stones. Walk between the many large, ancient, scattered stones which have tumbled down the gently interlocking spurs into the hands of the ancient people, the environment putting both Stonehenge and Avebury to shame. Discover the rare treasure of the 5000 year old earth fast Polissoir, its surface smoothed by centuries of dedication and sacrifice. Clamber back up the hill to either return to Hardy’s Monument or venture further on to the Hell Stone and its neighbouring stone circle which has been turned into a wall.

Distance:  3miles/5km (4miles/6.5km to include the Hell Stone)

Duration: 2-3 hours

Ability: Medium, some slow steep climbs.

Max Height: 780ft.

Min Height: 395ft.

Total climb: 408ft.

Terrain: Tracks, paths, fields and country lanes.

Map: OS Explorer OL15 Purbeck and South Dorset

Start Point: The National Trust’s Hardy’s Monument. Free parking. (Postcode: DT2 9HY, Grid Reference: SY612875, What Three Words: traps.ballparks.informed).

How to Get There: From Monkey Jump roundabout, east of Dorchester, take Bridport Road south towards Martinstown. At the junction turn right and travel through the village to where the road splits. Take the left hand fork and follow the lane up the hill for Hardy’s Monument to appear on the peak. On arrival, the car park is on the left with a tight entrance.

Refreshments: None on route but nearby are The Kings Arms in Portesham, The Coach House in Winterbourne Abbas and The Swan Inn in Abbotsbury .

Neighbouring walks: Winterbourne Abbas, Maiden Castle, Portesham, Abbotsbury and Little Bredy.

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