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The Dorset walk – Cranborne

Matt Wilkinson and Dan Bold explore around the village which gives the Chase its name

This is another of the routes designed for those who like a rather shorter, easier walk. It is based on the village of Cranborne, which was once quite an important town with a market every week and two fairs a year. It was the largest parish in Dorset. However, both the turnpike roads and the railway passed it by, and it returned to being the quiet backwater that it is today.

The rolling track from Cranborne towards Pentridge

The rolling track from Cranborne towards Pentridge

Cranborne Manor has been the home of the Cecils, Earls and Marquesses of Salisbury, since the days of James I. In fact it has normally been lived in by the Earl’s eldest son, Viscount Cranborne, with the family’s main seat at Hatfield House. The manor’s central section was originally built for King John, who loved hunting on the Chase, but the house was much altered by the first Cecil to own it: Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury.

A typical Cranborne Chase sky

A typical Cranborne Chase sky

The church has an unusual dual dedication, to St Mary and St Bartholomew. It is a pretty church, with a good wagon roof. The oldest part is the 12th-century doorway and there are some faint 14th-century wall paintings.

Cranborne parish church

Cranborne parish church

Panel

Distance: 2¼ miles.

Terrain: Very easy.

Start: Close to the de-restriction sign in Salisbury Street on the north-western edge of Cranborne. OS ref SU05413J. Postcode BH21 5PU.

How to get there: From the south take the B3078 from Wimborne, from the west take the B3078 from Shaftesbury. Where these roads meet, drive downhill into Cranborne. As the main road bends to the right, turn left into the Square, at the end of which bear right into Salisbury Street.

Maps: OS Explorer 118 (Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase). OS Landranger 195 (Bournemouth & Purbeck).

Refreshments: The route passes the tea rooms at Cranborne Manor Garden Centre, and the Fleur de Lys. The Sheaf of Arrows is in the Square.

Map of Dorset Walk

Map of Dorset Walk

1. Continue up the road. As it bends to the right, fork left, signed ‘Bridleway to Pentridge’ and ‘No through road for motor vehicles’. In about 350 yards, turn left through a gateway onto a track. Follow this as it swings to the right and goes downhill. Then walk up a gentle slope, at the top of which follow the track round to the left.

2. At a T-junction with a lane, turn left. Pass the buildings of Manor Farm and in front of the farmhouse bear right, still on the paved lane. Follow it up to a road, where turn left. Walk carefully along the road, passing the south front of Cranborne Manor. At the junction, turn left and walk even more carefully down past the entrance to the garden centre.

3. Pass the war memorial and take the next turning on the left into Church Street. Walk straight ahead into the churchyard and turn right in front of the building’s north door to reach another gate. Go through it and turn right for a few yards before turning left down an alleyway opposite a BT building. At the road, continue straight ahead to return to your car.

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