DISTANCE: 10 MILES
MAP: OS 195, Bournemouth & Purbeck
START: In the National Trust car park at Badbury Rings, 961032, on the B3082 road between Wimborne Minster and Blandford Forum. A full page road map showing the start point is available here. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed within the area of the rings but can use the car park as this is outside the site. This is a good walk for those wanting to complete a relatively easy ten mile stroll.
THE WALK: Leave the car park and walk back down to the B3082 road. Turn right and walk along the wide grassy verge, passing the long procession of beech trees. Once the avenue of trees comes to an end, cross over the road and continue along in the same direction. The verge here is quite narrow but we found we were able to use the right-hand side of the field which we followed for about 400 yards to reach a footpath sign.
Turn left here, signposted Tarrant Crawford. After about a mile, look out for a stony track on the right which you take to climb steadily then steeply drop down to reach a stream at a T-junction of tracks. Turn left here and follow the track as it soon reaches Tarrant Crawford church. Pass the church and carry straight on for a short distance. Just before reaching some farm buildings, take the well-signposted path on the left to cross the field and reach what was at the time a gate entrance with a stile on the right. Pass through the entrance and continue angling up the slope passing behind Tarrant Abbey House to reach and cross a field at the top, following the line of the electricity pylons.
Cross the road and enter the field opposite, walking downhill on the right-hand side to cross a tarmac track and pass beneath power lines. Follow the well-signposted footpath as it turns left over a stile, then turns right to follow the right-hand edge of a field and turns sharp left at an electric fence to lead you to a metalled road. Turn right and walk along this road towards Spetisbury. Fifty yards or so short of Crawford Bridge, turn left over a stile into a field and follow the path ahead which you should see reasonably clearly worn straight across the middle of the field. Cross the stile at the far end and follow the river bank for a short distance. When the river soon bends to the right, bear left away from it to cross the field to another stile in the fence. Cross this and aim for the middle of the far side of the next field to cross another stile. Keep left of the oak tree in this next field and aim for a gate towards the left which you walk through to follow the track past houses into the village of Shapwick. Carry on to reach the Anchor Inn.
Continue eastwards along Stewarts Lane for about a mile until you reach a metalled farm track on the left which leads you arrow straight between farm buildings and uphill to another minor road. Turn right along this road to reach a T-junction. To shorten the walk at this point, turn left and follow the lane back to the B3082 to turn left back to the car park. To continue to do the whole ten miles, carry straight on along the bridle way ahead. Turn left at the T-junction of tracks after approximately 3/4 of a mile and follow the track north to reach the B3082. Those without dogs wishing to visit Badbury Rings can cross the road and take the right hand of the two tracks just off to the right. A footpath leads off to the left at the end of this track and takes you to the northern part of the rings. Those with dogs can turn left after crossing the B3082 and follow the wide track past the beech trees back to the car park.