Standing at 180ft tall, the Cerne Giant is Britain’s largest chalk figure and certainly a sight to see! Once you’ve oggled the giant, you can follow a short river walk to the village for tea or walk up the Giant’s hill for great views over the Cerne Valley.
This ancient chalk figure has an enigmatic history and is best viewed from the viewing car park. However, walking on Giant hill always gives outstanding views of the valley follow the footpath up from the free car park, but be sure to wear stout footwear as it’s a steep climb!
The origins of the Giant, now owned by the National Trust, are a mix of fact and speculation. Some believe that he represents the Roman god, Hercules and is over 1500 years old or that he is a Pagan fertility symbol. However, there is no known historical record before 1694 and it has been argued that the Giant is a more recent caricature of a historical figure, the most probable being Oliver Cromwell.
Once you’ve had your walk (or view from the car park!) follow the tranquil riverside path down to the historical village. Keep your eyes peeled for orchids in the spring and an array of rare butterflies such as the Adonis Blue, Marsh Fritillary and the Duke of Burgundy as you go.
The village grew around a great Benedictine Abbey which was founded in AD 987 however the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century sadly saw the Abbey destroyed. The Abbey remains can still be seen today and are well worth a visit and take in the nearby architecture of the Tudor houses which housed the Abbey’s lay workers.
St Mary’s church, which was built by the Abbey for the parish in the late thirteenth century remains a focal point of the village today, with many original features still intact. Look out for the face carved by the porch door – this was a chimney and would have been a fine sight with smoke pouring out of his nose and mouth! Explore the cemetery and spot the pirate’s grave!
Once you’ve enjoyed exploring there are a good choice of pubs and refreshments available in the village – choose from a delicious cream tea in a local teashop to a cool, frothy beer in one of the village’s 3 pubs!
You can also pay a visit to the Cerne Abbas brewery – meet the brewers, view the brewing process first hand and sample some of their great ales!
If you’re interested in history, download our Walk Dorset’s History – Cerne Abbas for a easy access trail, comparing pictures of old photos and postcards to see what has or hasn’t changed over the past century or so.
For a longer walk, download our Drawing Inspiration walk to follow in the footsteps of past artists and see how they have depicted the Giant hill over the centuries,
Or try this circular walk around the Cerne Valley and take in the wildlife and landscape along the route.
For a longer circular walk taking in the hamlets and villages of Minterne Magna, Cerne Abbas, Nether Cerne, Godmanstone, Forston and Charminster follow the Cerne Valley Way
Dorset Food & Drink celebrate and support the great tastes of our outstanding landscape and there’s lots to choose from in this area. Find out where you can stock up on local produce for your picnic.