Dorset walk around Hampton Hill

Looking atmospheric in the early morning mist - the Durnovaria aqueduct stream running through the v

Looking atmospheric in the early morning mist - the Durnovaria aqueduct stream running through the valley - Credit: Archant

Edward Griffiths has a Boxing Day walk that offers views, wildlife and ancient history

This walk takes in beautiful woodland and high downs where redwing and fieldfare feed; country estates and valleys where long shadows are cast from winter sun. Then there’s the gin-clear chalk stream and the site of the Roman dam and reservoir which fed the aqueduct to Poundbury hill-fort at Durnovaria (Dorchester), nearly five miles away. What more could be crammed into a mid-winter holiday walk? Wrap up and take your time and enjoy it.


• Distance: 5½ miles/8.75 km

• Time: 4½ hours

• Exertion: Not too strenuous but several ascents and some muddy patches

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• Start: Tibbs Hollow Walkers’ Car Park, Southover (Grid Ref: SY619944)

• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194

• Public Transport: None to Tibbs Hollow, but Damory 212, 213 to Frampton

• Dogs: On leads where livestock are present or where requested

• Refreshments: Saxon Arms, Stratton for pub food and real ales. Chalk & Cheese, Maiden Newton for daily specials and real ales

The walk

1. From the car park, walk up the lane, instantly passing a right footpath and a left ‘Steppes Farm’ bridleway. Pass right Lambert’s Plantation woods with another right footpath and three-way signpost at the other end. Continue along the hedged lane for ‘Longlands Farm’. Levelling and signed ‘Roman Road’ meaning the one which runs parallel with the A35 Bridport road, go straight through the farm. Keep left of the open barns, through any closed gates, to a hedged two-way choice. Take the facing bridleway-gate onto the descending hedged rough grass track with mud after rain. Joining the parallel track, continue down, becoming hedged again. Now with lovely smooth valley views all around, the track swings left down to the valley floor.

2. Through the facing bridleway-gate, with another one right, continue along the left fence in the field to a two-way bridleway-gate before a stream. Cross the stream. You’ll literally be stepping into history if you can’t jump it. This is the stream which the Romans harnessed for the aqueduct to Durnovaria. Through the next gate, turn left along the stream and fence with a right wood. Through the facing bridleway-gate, continue along the stream fence/hedge in the valley floor. Pass a left track from Longlands Farm. Through the facing gateway, continue along the stream, swinging slowly left to another bridleway-gate. Through this, pass another left track and keep straight on for 200 yards to the left bridleway-gate. Go through and turn right along the other side of the stream. Through the facing bridleway-gate, keep straight on to the bridleway-gate onto a path through coppice and rising to a bridleway-T. Turn left down through Barrow Plantation to join the track/drive from left Steppes Farm.

3. Follow the track, passing the left fenced path for ‘Tibbs Hollow ½’. Here, double-back right along the left fence to become a hedged track to the bridleway-signed gate. Through, keep following the grass track above the right-fenced valley floor, ascending very gently to the gate into New Littlewood Farm’s drive. Keep straight on through the half-gate by a cattle-grid. Continue to and through another gate/cattle-grid onto the fenced valley drive and through another gate/cattle-grid at left cottages. Then follow the avenue to a last gate/cattle-grid into Hampton Plantations wood. Keep straight on until the drive bends left. Here, go through the facing bridleway-gate onto the track towards Hampton Lodge. Just before it, double back left onto the woodland bridleway for ‘Frampton 1¾’.

4. Cross the drive and continue along the wood’s edge. Through the end bridleway-gate, follow the right fence along the ¾ mile long valley field’s top edge, with super views opening up over the farm drive below, then over to the right as well. Go through the bridleway-gate into the second field with right Hampton Hill Plantation, OS height measured at 490ft. Notice the flowering gorse. Anyway, through another bridleway-gate into a field with Furze Brake Plantation left and Hampton Hill Plantation still right, continue to another bridleway-gate onto a fenced track alongside right Long Hampton Plantation. Starting to descend, you get deeper into the wood. Continue down the narrowing path to the footpath and bridleway-gate out into a steep field with Frampton Church ahead.

5. Follow the clearly ancient sunken track down. This was the track up to their fort/camp for the Roman builders who constructed the dam to form the reservoir for the aqueduct to Dorchester. Go down to the facing gate onto the track with a left wood. In 20 yards, take the left footpath kissing-gate and drop down the woodland path to a clearing with cottages right. Join the main track and cross the stream to the ‘Tibbs Hollow ½’ kissing-gate. Follow the left fence, roughly following the line of the Roman dam, over the field to the corner half-gate into the wood. Read the Roman Aqueduct notice. Ascend the woodland path, continuing along the fenced section with left fields, and back into woodland. Before the end road-gate, take the left footpath kissing-gate onto the rising fenced path which takes you straight back up to Tibbs Hollow Car Park.


Winter walks in Dorset - When the weather gets colder, there’s not much more refreshing than a brisk walk across the countryside, and there’s plenty of that here in Dorset…