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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Saturday Walk - Maiden Castle Iron Age Hillfort, Barrows, Sinkholes and Neolithic Dorset: Dorchester Circular or to Portesham

Dorchester (South) Circular
Length: 24.1 km (15.0 mi) [shorter or longer walk possible, see pdf or webpage]
Ascent/Descent: 565m; Net Walking Time: 5 ¾ hours
Toughness:  7/10                        
Dorchester (South) to Portesham
Length: 25.5 km (15.9 mi) [shorter walk possible, see pdf or webpage]
Ascent/Descent: 823/827m; Net Walking Time: 6 ½ hours
Toughness:  9/10

Take the 08.23 Weymouth train from Waterloo (08.32 Clapham, 08. 56 Woking), arrives Dorchester South 11.04.
Return trains from Dorchester  are on xx.13 and xx.33 to 19.33, then 20.22 and 21.22, journey time from 152 mins. The trains depart from Weymouth 10-13 earlier.
The bus from Portesham to Weymouth  runs 15.17, 17.17, 19.09. There is also the 20.50 but this will miss the last train to London.
Buy a Dorchester Return for the Circular Walk, or a Weymouth Return for the Portesham Ending.

Strenous but rewarding expedition from the county town of Dorset through the pre-historic landscape of the Dorset Downs with splendid views out to the Jurassic Coast from the South Dorset Ridgeway.
Maumbury Rings, an ancient British henge earthwork converted by the Romans for use as an amphitheatre (the largest of its kind in Britain), is walked through early on. Then Maiden Castle, the largestand one of the most complex – Iron Age hill fort in Europe, with its up to four banks and three ditches and remains of a Romano-Celtic temple, is explored in detail. Settled from 4000 BC, it was one of the most powerful settlements in pre-Roman Britain, the Durotriges were the last tribe to have lived there.
From there the route follows the narrow South Winterbourne Valley to lunch in Martinstown before a steady ascent up to the heathery Black Down, crowned by the 22m-high Hardy Monument  (to Sir Thomas Hardy the Admiral, not the writer), with some stunning views to the Jurassic Coast and the Isle of Portland. Continue with views out to sea atop Bronkham Hill, with an interesting group of barrows and shakeholes on its ridge. On the descent from it you pass more barrows, en route back to Dorchester.

A long extension adds more pre-historic highlights – the Valley of (Sarsen) Stones, one of the finest examples of a boulder ‘train’ in Britain, several impressive barrows and two stone circles – and leads through the very pretty Bride Valley.

Lunch: The Brewer’s Arms in Martinstown (8.7 km/5.4 mi, food to 14.15).
Tea: The China Mermaid Retro Café in the Hardy Monument Car Park (to 16.00);
plus plenty of options in Dorchester, a pub and a café in Portesham (while waiting for the bus) and lots in Weymouth. See the pdf for details.

For summary, map, height profile, photos, walk directions and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.275


Thomas G said...

Last Minute change by SWR: train leaves earlier, but stops at CJ. Posting amended.

branchline said...

Dorchester Circular or to Portesham
29th September 2018

n=9 walkers were rewarded for their long journey by stunning scenery and w=glorious weather, in the most beautiful and evocative county in Britain. Walking in Dorset connects the present with the distant past as we walk through the barrows and Iron age hill forts and the impressive remains of the Roman amphitheatre of Dorchester which is now a deep green bowl.

Half of us ate in the garden of The Brewers Arms, which did very nice food, then walked onto the Hardy Monument, and climbed up to get panoramic views. Three walkers continued onto Portesham, and the remainder of us returned to Dorchester, walking past quite a few alarming sinkholes but also with views towards Weymouth, Portland Bill and glimpses of the Isle of Wight.

Returned home on the 6.13 train which entertained us to a view of Staines.

Who would have thought it was possible to get to Dorset and back for a 15 mile walk within a day?