Fontmell and Melbury Downs
Enjoy a variety of beautiful flora and fauna in this nature reserve in Compton Abbas on the Dorset/Wiltshire border. The area is associated with the novels of Thomas Hardy and includes a climb to Melbury Hill for wonderful views over the area. Also look out for a variety of birds, butterflies, wildflowers and orchids in this delightful area.
The walk starts from the car park at the top of Spread Eagle Hill and follows footpaths to Compton Abbas. From here you climb past Compton Down before reaching the 863 feet summit of Melbury Hill. From here there are splendid views over Blackmore Vale, Vale of Wardour and Shaftesbury. The walk then descends back to Compton Abbas before crossing Fontmell Down and returning to the car park.
At the end of your walk you can enjoy refreshments at the Compton Abbas Airfield Restaurant which is located just to the east of the car park.
If you would like to continue your walking in the area then you could head east to Win Green Hill. It is the highest point in the Cranborne Chase AONB and commands wonderful views over Shaftesbury, Salisbury Plain, Glastonbury Tor, the Mendips, the Quantocks, the Purbecks and the south coast. Also nearby is Melbury Down, Melbury Wood and Fontmell Wood.
If you head a few miles to the north west you could visit Duncliffe Wood where there is a nice climb to Duncliffe Hill, pretty bluebells in the spring and bridleways suitable for cycling.