Distance – 4.5/5 miles (the walk can be shortened by around a mile by driving down Cowgrove Road to park at Eye Bridge near point D on the map).
Grade – Mostly easy with some short and gentle climbs.
Description – This is a pretty walk, mostly through National Trust land, taking in river bank, meadows and woodlands, starting in the delightful and historic market town of Wimborne.
Parking – Parking is available throughout Wimborne but for this route, the easiest is Pye Corner Car Park – this is in two sections, a few spaces near to Victoria Road, plus more spaces in a gravelled section further along Old Road.
Notes -1) Parts of the walk can become muddy/waterlogged in really wet weather (see route description), 2) the river at Eye Bridge is very popular in summer, 3) there are a number of styles along this walk but most are squeeze styles and fairly easy to negotiate.
Refreshments – Lots of eateries in Wimborne itself, or on route at The Pamphill Parlour (slight detour needed), or The Vine Inn (short detour needed)
Route Description – From the car park, follow Old Road west, away from Wimborne and at the end, bend to the left to come out onto the B3078. Turn right to follow the road a short distance till you see a gate on the right leading to a riverside path. Follow this path along the river, passing the new housing estate to come out onto open riverside meadows. Continue to follow the river, crossing one hedge line, and just before the second hedge line, take the path that goes diagonally off to the right away from the river, passing through a second hedge line, to reach a squeeze style onto Cowgrove Road.
Cross the road diagonally to the right to reach another squeeze style into a field. Follow the bottom of the field, keeping the tree line on your left, until you see a squeeze style on the left, into the woods. A short walk across the woods will take you to another squeeze style to the right. Cross this and continue to follow the obvious path with trees and shrubs on either side. When you reach a cross road of paths, continue straight on to come out of the woods into an open field. Cross this field and the next, keeping the stream and shrub/tree line on your right, and then at the end of the second field, curve round to the left and climb the gentle slope till you see a squeeze style on the right that takes you into another tract of woodlands.
In the woodlands, keep to the left and follow the higher path that skirts around the top of the woods and then curves to the right to reach a boardwalk. On the boardwalk, turn left to exit the woods into a sloping field. Take the path that goes diagonally up to the left to reach another squeeze style into a flat field at the top. Follow the path across this field to reach a farm gate with a style beside it. Crossing this style will bring you out to Pamphill Green and you will see the avenue in front of you. Cross the meadow to reach the avenue and turn right to follow the road to point (A) on the map.
From point (A), you have choices (see below) but for the purposes of our walk, turn left and follow the road a short distance till you see a rough track on the left – this is All Fools Lane. Follow this track for 3/4 mile, but if you are walking in spring, do take the short detour to explore the bluebell woods (B). This is off to the right part way down All Fools Lane – go through a gate and cross a field into the woods (I believe there are usually signs up when the flowers are in bloom). Afterwards, retrace your steps back to All Fools Lane (C). When you reach the road, take the track immediately on the left, passing in front of a red brick cottage and follow this until you reach Cowgrove by The Woodshed (Note, this track can become waterlogged in very wet weather, in which case stay on the country lanes to reach Cowgrove).
Cross the road and take the track opposite that passes in front of a thatched cottage. Stay on this track for around a mile, following the fence line on the left, until you reach the river again. At this point, the track turns to the left to follow the riverside path once more, passing Eye Bridge (D) on the way. Just after Eye Bridge, you will meet the path that you walked out along. Simply retrace your steps from this point along the riverside path to reach the road and then turn left to return to the car park.
Points of Interest –
(A) – From Point A there are several points of interest, (1) The lovely avenue of oak trees that you will have just walked down, together with the cricket pitch and picnic space, (2) Ahead of you at the junction, you will see St Stephen’s Church, built in 1907 for the Bankes family of Kingston Lacy (now National Trust), (3) For refreshments, a short walk down the road to the right will take you to Pamphill Parlour with its cafe, children’s play area, and farm shop.
(B) – The Bluebell Woods – accessed from All Fools Lane, a short detour off to the right will take you to the well known and loved bluebell woods in spring.
(C) – All Fools Lane – this is one of Dorset’s ancient trackways that has become a Holloway, a sunken lane, worn and eroded by centuries of feet, hooves, cartwheels and rainwater. The sunken nature of this stony lane is most visible at the lower end.
(D) – Eye Bridge is a crossing point on the River Stour, both by wooden footbridge and by ford. There is a weir nearby and picnic areas, and it is a popular place in summer, with children often swimming in the river.
Blog Posts for further information –
Holloways and Sunken Paths, the Mysterious Ancient Highways
This really is a delightful walk at any time of year or day. The habitats are varied, there are countryside views aplenty, the walking, even if muddy, is wonderful, and in spring the bluebells are stunning. Keep your eyes pealed and you will almost certainly see kingfishers, plus peregrines, red kite, some ancient trees, and maybe even otters. And afterwards, enjoy a stroll around the lovely town of Wimborne, with its Minster church, or enjoy a drink at the quaint Vine Inn at Pamphill. Enjoy, you will find it a delight.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
If you would like to contact me, my email address is email@example.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.
All words and pictures in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and may not be reproduced without permission.