Walks And Walking – Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset

Walks And Walking – Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset

The top 3 walks in Stratton Dorset include Jackman’s Cross to Grimstone Down, Bradford Peverell to Penn Hill and The Sydling Valley to Frampton.

The A37 Dorchester to Yeovil road skirts around the village of Stratton, some three miles north-west of the Dorset county town. This is Thomas Hardy country. Dorchester became his Casterbridge.

Stratton Village Green is the starting point of a series of circular walks to be found on the Stratton Dorset website introducing visiting walkers to the River Frome water meadows and the gentle undulations of the surrounding chalk hillsides.

Walks And Walking - Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset - Stratton Village Green

Walks And Walking – Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset – Stratton Village Green

Each walk provides an opportunity to visit some of the many fascinating archaeological and architectural treasures in the area. There is a Roman road and aqueduct, Bronze Age burial mounds, ancient Stone Crosses, a Parish Church largely rebuilt in 1891 but of Norman origin on a Saxon site, a manor house and thatched cottages.

Roe deer, pheasant, partridge, badgers and foxes are plentiful. Bird life is everywhere; in the sky, the hedgerows, trees, fields, and on the river. Wild flowers provide colour and scent. Insects thrive.

Hardy’s novels come to life here. His words and the Dorset countryside blend together in front of your eyes.

Walks And Walking - Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset - Jackman's Cross

Walks And Walking – Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset – Jackman’s Cross

Jackman’s Cross and Grimstone Down

This popular Stratton walk sets off from the Village Green, itself set on the site of a Roman Road, past St Mary’s Church and the War Memorial. A turning to the left leads to Stratton dairy. Around the dairy buildings, the track leads eastwards to Ash Hill cross-paths where a left turn continues uphill providing views across farmland to Dorchester and beyond.

A little over a mile further on, the path bears left through an ageing gate into the open pasture of Watcombe Hill. Spectacular views of the Cerne Valley take a few minutes to absorb. Continuing west, the route passes through another gate onto an open path between cultivated fields. This is a favourite spot of the local Roe Deer.

On the left, the field gives way to woodland and the path eventually passes beneath a canopy of trees to emerge at Jackman’s Cross. The stone base of the original cross can still be seen. A Millennium replacement stands surveying the west Dorset countryside. Barrows are littered amongst the trees.

The route continues to the south along the path once used by Monks travelling between the Abbeys of Cerne Abbas to the north-east and Abbotsbury to the south. Both Abbeys are now no more than remnants. To the right of the path are the banks and ditches of the Grimstone Down Celtic Settlement.

‘The Clumps’, two small circular plantations, one with a Bronze Age Barrow within, are passed as the route descends to cross-paths at farm buildings. A left turn here takes the circular walk along a farm track to a crossing over the Weymouth to Bristol railway line. Once across the track and over the main A37 road, the Stratton signboard comes into sight. Two hundred metres into the village and the Green appears on the right.

Walks And Walking - Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset - Ford Over River Frome At Wrackleford

Walks And Walking – Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset – Ford Over River Frome At Wrackleford

Bradford Peverell and Penn Hill

This walk follows the Jackman’s Cross and Grimstone Down route as far as the Ash Hill cross-paths. Carrying straight on from here, the footpath follows the edge of two fields before diagonally crossing a third. Stiles separate each of the fields. Beyond the third field is a paddock usually occupied by grazing horses.

Yet another stile leads to a farm track where a right turn brings Park Farm into view. At the farm buildings the route turns right along a metalled road for a few hundred metres to arrive at the main A37 road. On the opposite side of the main road is an unmade track leading to two fords across the River Frome at Wrackleford.

There are footbridges at each of them. Having negotiated the bridges the route continues along the track to Bradford Peverell Farm. A right turn along the metalled road into Bradford Peverell village arrives at a footpath on the left which passes through two kissing gates and connects to a bridleway leading away from the steeple of St Mary’s Church.

A narrower path indicated by a finger post, branches off to the right and leads up to Penn Hill. At the top of the hill there are extensive views across the Frome Valley with a Roman Aqueduct below and Stratton beyond. The Bronze Age Seven Barrows are to be found adjacent to the path.

Walks And Walking - Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset - Seven Barrows

Walks And Walking – Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset – Seven Barrows

The route descends sharply from here through several gates to reach a track where a right turn is required. This track leads past the Muckleford Nature Reserve to a metalled road which is crossed to enter the field opposite.

The route crosses the field diagonally and joins a path which emerges in the hamlet of Muckleford. A left turn and a hundred metres or so of metalled road reaches a footpath on the right which leads over the water meadows to a footbridge across the River Frome. On the far side of the river is the A37 road.

A hundred metres to the right on the far side of the road is a path that leads through a field and along a track to farm buildings. At these buildings a right turn takes the circular walk along a farm track to a crossing over the Weymouth to Bristol railway line. Once across the track and over the main A37 road, the Stratton signboard comes into sight. Two hundred metres into the village and the Green appears on the right.

Walks And Walking - Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset - The Sydling Valley

Walks And Walking – Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset – The Sydling Valley

The Sydling Valley and Frampton

A hundred metres or so after setting off from Stratton Village Green westwards along Dorchester Road, the route crosses the main A37. Beyond this and the adjacent railway line, a stile leads to a wide bridleway. This was once part of a Roman road linking Durnovaria (Dorchester) with Lindinis (Ilchester).

A left turn takes the route to farm buildings where a right turn leads uphill, past ‘The Clumps’, two small circular plantations, one with a Bronze Age Barrow within, to a field that is often home to grazing sheep. To the left of the path are the banks and ditches of the Grimstone Down Celtic Settlement.

Walks And Walking - Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset - Grimstone Down Settlement

Walks And Walking – Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset – Grimstone Down Settlement

On reaching Jackman’s Cross a path to the left drops downhill through a gate and into a meadow. The path follows the bottom of the valley to the left, arriving at a gate with farm roads beyond leading to the metalled public road between Grimstone and Sydling St Nicholas. A short distance to the right is an uphill metalled lane which reaches the A37 road.

Immediately over the main road is Church Lane which descends into Frampton, emerging on the A356 at St Mary’s Church. A hundred metres to the right is the Millennium Green where a bridge over the River Frome leads to Southover. A finger post on the left indicates the route through Frampton Park.

Walks And Walking - Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset - Footbridge Over The River Frome At Grimstone

Walks And Walking – Top 3 Walks in Stratton Dorset – Footbridge Over The River Frome At Grimstone

This bridlepath is part of the Frome Valley Trail, National Cycle Path 26, and the Frome Valley Cycle Path. The route passes Littlewood Farm on its way to Muckleford where a footpath to the left leads over the water meadows to a footbridge across the River Frome. On the far side of the river is the A37 road.

A hundred metres to the right on the far side of the road is a path that leads through a field and along a track to farm buildings. At these buildings a right turn takes the circular walk along a farm track to a crossing over the Weymouth to Bristol railway line. Once across the track and over the main A37 road, the Stratton signboard comes into sight. Two hundred metres into the village and the Green appears on the right.