Well that was a good walk. Thirteen miles in five gentle hours. Walked from Blandford Forum in Dorset along the North Dorset Trailway to Sturminster Newton and then onto Marnhull via various footpaths/bridleways.
You know those little gizmos that air hostess’ have on planes, they walk down the aisle clicking away counting the number of passengers on board? Well I’ve got one. I once counted the number of cars going both ways on the M25 motorway in an hour with it. I’ll dig out the tally I came up with for that in part 8.
I wanted to count the number of drinks bottles/cans and cartons that I saw on the trip from Blandford to Stur. I wasn’t obsessive about it. I just scanned the pathway side to side and clicked away. In nine miles of the Trailway which basically only sees foot, cycle and horse transport, how many vessels do you think I found?
It was good to see a gentleman out on his mobility scooter with two black labradors by his side. The Trailway is a path being developed by Dorset Countryside along the route of the old Somerset and Dorset railway line which closed in 1966. It’s a three metre wide path with an all-weather surface. The North Dorset section will eventually connect Poole to Bristol and will be totally free from motor traffic. The Bath to Bristol Railway Path in the west, the Poole to Wimborne Castlemain Trail in the east, as well as the North Dorset Trailway are all open at present and are part of this scheme. The National Cycle Network is also involved, this being a 10,000 mile cycle route scheme co ordinated by the charity Sustrans.
The N.D.Trail follows both the river Stour and to a degree the A357 main road yet you rarely notice the road coming close to it on only a few occasions.
Leave your ipod behind if you like birdsong because the North Dorset Trailway Bird Choir follows you the whole way-a complete surround system!
I counted 12 benches to sit on, two of them a mile apart from one another with a view straight towards Hambledon Hill, plaques on each. The first was ‘In joyful memory of Cecil Colyer, skilled designer, craftsman and lover of Dorset’, the second, ‘In happy memory of Ruth Colyer, doughty campaigner for the Dorset countryside’.
You pass Hamdown green burial site, more than 200 souls overlooked by Hambledon Hill, guarded by a line of grand oak trees. If you keep turning your head to the right, and then behind, Hambeldon Hill can be seen for a large part of the 9 mile walk to Stur.
You cross The Wessex Ridgeway at Stourpaine, the Ridgeway is a long distance footpath of 136 miles and connects Marlborough in Wiltshire to Lyme Regis in Dorset.
You pass Bere Marsh Organic Farm with its camping and 40 Cashmere x Boer goats…..You pass Shillingstone Railway Heritage Centre, museum and café, (open Wed/Sat/Sun). You pass through avenues of beech trees, get a great view of Blandord Forest to the west and get a glimpse of sheep, cows, (goats) and pot belly pigs en route. It will be a great place to pick blackberries in season.
And the drinks containers!
If you add the mileage of the Ridgeway to the number of benches I saw, add the motorway number to that, add the hours I walked, add the number of days Shillingstone Heritage Centre is open, then add the number the total number of miles I walked and then take away seven, that’s how many I saw…and I didn’t pick one of them up. I must get hold of my litter picker.
We appreciate your descriptions very much and can imagine something of each journey. The photos are good. The single short installments work really well. The encounters are vivid. the litter is appalling. Your Chesil Beach plan sounds just right and we’ll see you there one day soon and will gather litter with you, starting at the Portland end, I expect.