Sturminster Newton Walks
This Dorset based town has some lovely river and country walks with historic mills and local pockets of woodland to visit as well. It's also notable as the former home of author Thomas Hardy who lived here from 1876 to 1878. He wrote The Return of the Native while residing in the town. The town is set in the vale on which Hardy based his the Vale of the little dairies which features in the novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
This circular walk from the town takes you to the ancient Fiddleford Manor, the picturesque Fiddleford Mill, Piddles Wood and Newton.
The walk starts in the town centre where you can pick up the Stour Valley Way and follow the waymarked footpath east along the river to Fiddleford Manor. This small stone manor house is thought to date from around 1370 and was built for William Latimer, Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset. The house is now run by English heritage who often run exhibitions at the property.
The route then crosses the river and heads past the old Fiddleford Mill. The watermill is thought to date back to the 18th century and includes a tiled roof with stone slate verges and gable ends. From the mill you head south west to explore the woodland trails in Piddles Wood where there are good bird spotting opportunities. The route then heads north west through Broad Oak and Glue Hill before crossing the river on the Sturminster Newton town bridge. You can then follow another riverside footpath north back into the town centre. This section will pass close to the historic Stuminster Mill which is now run as a museum.
Sturminster Newton Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
Sturminster Newton Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
Sturminster Newton OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
Sturminster Newton Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
In the town the Swan Inn is a nice place for post walk refreshment. The former coaching inn includes a large open bar, a separate dining area and a lovely secluded garden. It's located in the medieval market place at postcode DT10 1AR for your sat navs.
The river and woodland trails make for a fine walk with your dog. The Swan Inn mentioned above is also very dog friendly.
Further Information and Other Local Ideas
Just to the north of the start of the walk you can visit the Butts Pond nature reserve in the town centre. The reserve includes meadows, hedges, ditches and ponds. It is notable as the last remnant of the grazing land associated with the Sturminster Livestock Market. It's a great place for a peaceful stroll in the town centre with wildlife and wildflowers to see in the summer months. You can access it off Selwood Close, just north of the old railway line.
The North Dorset Trailway passes through the town. The shared walking and cycling path follows a dismantled railway line from Stalbridge to Spetisbury.
To the south there's the climb to Okeford Hill to try. There's great views here and some popular mountain bike trails for cyclists as well. The epic Wessex Ridgeway can be picked up on the hill too.
To the east there's Child Okeford and the climb to Hambledon Hill. Here you'll find one of the country's best preserved Iron Age hill forts and a nature reserve. Another fort sits atop the adjacent Hod Hill, near to Stourpaine.
For more walking ideas in the area see the Dorset Walks page.