Black Down and the Hardy Monument

Set within the ancient South Dorset Ridgeway landscape, there are panoramic views of the unique Fleet and Chesil Beach and the rolling Dorset Downs … a great place to stroll, picnic and enjoy the views.

Black Down is the ridge of land around the Hardy Monument, the iconic landmark which can be seen from miles around.  This area is part of the South Dorset Ridgeway ancient landscape, as special as Stonehenge and Avebury for the monuments that remain here (over a thousand and still counting) and what they tell us about the past.

But you don’t need to be an expert in deep history to enjoy this place! From the new Black Down car park, you can walk along to the Hardy Monument for spectacular panoramic views across the South Dorset Ridgeway and the Jurassic Coast. Or picnic at the car park and enjoy a short stroll along easy access paths around Black Down.

If you have a bit more time and energy, a walk along to Bronkham Hill – with its round barrows and wildlife – is a rare treat, scroll down for route maps below.

South Dorset Ridgeway landscape by Phil Bardswell

Sit and enjoy the view

Park at the National Trust car park at the Hardy Monument and enjoy stunning views over the Jurassic Coast. Wrap up warm though – it’s always a few degrees colder on Black Down!

The Hardy Monument isn’t a celebration of Thomas Hardy, it was erected in 1844 in memory of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Flag-Captain of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Monument is owned by the National Trust and is open occasionally – you can climb the steps for even more breathtaking views.

Woodlands at Black Down (c) Graham Herbert

Walk a little ... or a lot!

For longer walks in this area, you are spoilt for choice!

  • Try one of our Field Guide series of walks, free downloadable maps created by artist Amanda Wallwork which give an insight into the history and geology of the area while you walk. FIND OUT MORE
  • The inland route of the South West Coast Path also runs past Black Down, the 13 mile section stretches from West Bexington to Osmington Mills. FIND OUT MORE

Explore the South Dorset Ridgeway

Download our guide to the great sights, walks and days out in this most ancient landscape. It’s an intriguing mix of wildlife, geology and history, yet remains one of the UK’s best kept secrets!

How to get there

The land around Black Down is owned and managed by Dorset Council.

From Winterbourne St Martin (Martinstown), travel west through the village, follow signs for Portesham/Hardy Monument. Cross a cattle grid and pass the monument on your left. After crossing the second cattle grid the Dorset Council free car park is well signed and located on the right hand side.

The National Trust also have a car park at the Hardy Monument with restricted opening times, visit their website for details.

Other places to visit