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. On the summit there's a handy toposcope which details the landmarks you can see. From the summit 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. The longer Compton Abbas Walk visits the hill, Compton Abbas Airfield, Melbury Wood, the nearby village of Melbury Abbas and Melbury Hill. It's a good way to extend your walk if you have time.
PostcodeSP5 5AP - Please note: Postcode may be approximate for some rural locations
Fontmell and Melbury Downs Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
Fontmell and Melbury Downs Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
Fontmell and Melbury Downs OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
Fontmell and Melbury Downs Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
There's a couple of fine options for post walk refreshments in the area near the downs. You could head about 2 miles north east of the hill to the Rising Sun for example. The quaint pub has a free car park and a nice garden to sit out in on a sunny day. The pub is marked on Ordnance Survey maps and can be found on the Salisbury Road at postcode SP7 9LT.
The Grove Armsis also nearby and an establishment of some note. The dog friendly inn dates from the 16th century and includes a nice sun terrace. It can be found on Ludwell Hill just a mile from Win Green Hill at postcode SP7 9ND.
Further Information and Other Local Ideas
Just to the south east you can visit the pretty village of Tollard Royal where there's a 13th century church and the delightful Larmer Tree Gardens. The beautiful gardens include some nice walkways with tea rooms, peacocks and a folly viewpoint to enjoy.
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.
For more walking ideas in the area see the Cranborne Chase Walks page.