Valley of Stones National Nature Reserve
Coombe Rd, Dorchester DT2 9HX, UK
Hidden in the hills between Dorchester and Weymouth lies a remarkable landscape just waiting to be discovered.
This is the South Dorset Ridgeway, not just an ancient trackway but a ridge of high land that has attracted people for thousands of years – a special place to celebrate life and bury their dead.
Experts tell us that this ridge of land is as important as Stonehenge and Avebury for the scale of monuments and what they tell us of life in the past. But without a stone henge, this vast ceremonial landscape remains one of the UKs best kept secrets!
You don’t need to be a history buff to enjoy this ‘land of bone and stone’ – it’s an intriguing mix of wildlife, geology and history all wrapped up in modern day life.
Our South Dorset Explorer Guide will show you that the South Dorset Ridgeway is a great place not just to celebrate life but to live it too. Whether you’re interested getting out and about with the kids, letting off steam, going for a hike, spotting wildlife or simply enjoying a stunning view … you’ll find plenty to do here.
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!
The South Dorset Ridgeway is a fantastic place to go walking in Dorset. Here are some of the best routes for you to immerse yourself in this remarkable landscape, with original artwork developed by renowned artist Amanda Wallwork as well as a highly informative Field Guide to the South Dorset Ridgeway landscape to enrich your visit, also produced by Amanda to accompany the walks and to enjoy in your own time.
“The concept behind the Field Guide and maps is to highlight how the unseen geology beneath our feet dictates or influences the landscape we see today. From landforms, soil, plants, wildlife and early human intervention – all relate to the rocks below the surface. The colours on the maps indicate the type of rock and its age of formation. The accompanying Field Guide gives an introduction to this remarkable landscape and some of the things to look out for.” Amanda Wallwork
Find out more about artist Amanda Wallwork and the inspirations behind her work.
You can download the walks below or for a free printed copy of the Field Guide and Maps, try the Tourist Information Centre in Bridport or email Kate Townsend, Project Support Officer for a copy.
This Field Guide accompanies a series of six maps with walking routes that explore the remarkable landscape of the South Dorset Ridgeway. Written and illustrated by artist Amanda Wallwork, the Field Guide is a fascinating insight into the geology, habitats, earthworks, old ways and names of this ancient landscape.
This 5 mile walk starts in the monastic village of Abbotsbury and climbs up on to the ridge with stunning views of the Jurassic Coast.
This 6 mile walk starts in Portesham village and takes in Rocket Quarry, Hampton Stone Circle before dropping down to Abbotsbury village.
This 5 mile walk starts at Littlebredy and reaches the enigmatic Valley of Stones National Nature Reserve.
A selection of short walks start from the free car park and picnic area at Black Down. Explore the Hardy Monument, woodland, heathland and Bronkham Hill.
You can walk or cycle 6 miles from Littlemoor to explore the Bronze Age round barrows which are steeped in legend … taking in wildflowers and butterflies along the way.
Exploring the eastern end of the Ridgeway, these two short circular walks with options to extend explore White Horse Hill with sweeping views across to Chalbury Hillfort and the Jurassic Coast.