Barrows and Bluebells

Maddy and I went walking last week.  Armed with my Explorer Map sheet 117 and an AA book of Dorset walks, which effectively provides 50 crib sheets for walks of 2 – 10 miles in length, we set off to walk the route Nick and I intend to take the Winterborne Walkers in May.

We parked at the picnic area just north of Turnworth and walked east then south to the woodland at Bonsley Common.  The bluebells are just beginning and I think they will be in full flower on May 7th.  The information board at the picnic area tells us later that these are some of the finest bluebell coppice in Dorset.  There are barrows in this landscape and also wood anemones, a sure sign of the longevity of this woodland.

We turn down across some farmland to gain the road into the ancient hamlet of Turnworth.  There are a few houses, all brick and flint and of the same vintage.  The church of St Mary’s is bijou with some interesting features including a lovely owl corbel which my niece would love.  In the graveyard there are Andrew’s family ancestors.

We press on through the village and strike off west along a bridle path.  This takes us past Turnworth Farm with a view of Turnworth House as we descend to a track which takes us past Okeden House, a rather attractive, beautifully proportioned building with a portico in attractive fretwork giving a slightly oriental feel.  As we turn up a steep track which sets us on the final leg of our course, we turn to face downhill and walk backwards, which makes the going easier and perpetuates the view.

Crossing a rape field we cut through to an area known as Ringmoor.  Here, to the trained eye, is the ground plan of a Celtic farmstead and field system; a barrow with banks and ditches  It’s an important Dorset site, and as you take in the 360 degree view from this high topographical point, you can see why it would have represented sanctuary.  In additon to depressions which represent ancient ponds, there is a natural pond nearby, an indispensable amenity for a Celtic community.

We now join the Wessex Ridgeway path for the descent to the picnic area.  The views continue to impress whilst in nearer view there are Buckthorn shrubs in full flower and stylishly carved fingerposts.

During the walk we probably took a couple of wrong turns but nothing to deflect us from the prescribed route.  I’ll need to rewalk the second half to make sure there is no dithering on the day.

Back home we have a bowl of soup then Maddy is off to do her Census work and I go to Homebase for sweet pea canes, thence to the quaintest plant shop/nursery called Digwells at Red Lion Cottage in Blandford.  It hides along one of the coaching alleys that leads off Market Square.  They have such a lovely selection of unusual plants, things you won’t find in Homebase.  I buy two little Acer and a couple of Auricula in colours I do not have.  Digwells is a find.

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