The North Dorset Trailway is a well maintained path which extends approx. 14 miles from Sturminster Newton to Spetisbury.

A safe route for walkers, runners, cyclists, equestrians and people with mobility scooters.

The Trailway is largely made up of sections of the old Somerset and Dorset Railway which linked Bristol and Bournemouth until the 1960s.

Enjoy views of the River Stour for most of the route.

Take a closer look

This walking, cycling and horse riding route runs along the route of the old Somerset and Dorset Railway line and takes you through some picturesque villages of the Blackmore vale.

The old railway line closed to rail traffic in 1966 and provides an ideal route for a Trailway as it links many of North Dorset’s towns and villages.

You can dip in and out of the route from Sturminster Newton to Spetisbury, take in the superb views of Hambledon Hill and follow the course of the meandering River Stour, which is a haven for wildlife, looking for otters and kingfishers as you go.

As the trail runs along a flat, surfaced, three metre wide track it is suitable for pushchairs, mobility vehicles, horses, bicycles and walkers.

Download a map of the North Dorset Trailway here

A historical trail

Enjoy history as well as nature …..

  • In Sturminster Newton the restored water mill is in a beautiful setting on the Stour next to the A357 and dates from the 1600’s. This is the landscape that internationally renowned poet and novelist Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) used time and time again as a backdrop for his tales of love and tragedy.  William Barnes perhaps the best known writer of Dorset dialect lived in Bagber, near Sturminster Newton. His poems are seen as a valuable record of the old Dorset dialect and working people’s lives in the 19th century.
  • Fiddleford Manor English Heritage site (DT10 2BX off A357) has free parking close to the Trailway and the Manor is an amazing mediaeval building.
  • At Shillingstone Station – discover the history of the railway line at this restored station which has a museum and cafe (not open everyday).
  • In Blandford –  explore the Town Museum, Fashion Museum, visit the historic church and fine Georgian buildings.
  • In Spetisbury – explore and picnic at the Old Station site. Take the public footpath to Spetisbury Rings, an Iron Age hillfort close by.

Clack, clack, clack, went the mill-wheel as I came,
And she was on the bridge with the thin hand-rail,
And the miller at the door, and the ducks at mill-tail;
I come again years after, and all there seems the same.

- The Second Visit by Thomas Hardy

Get a taste of the local landscape

Dorset Food & Drink celebrate and support the great tastes of our outstanding landscape and there’s lots to choose from in this area, including cafes, farm shops and bakeries full of delicious goodies for a picnic.

Walk, cycle, ride a little ... or a lot!

The Trailway is the perfect place for a short walk with the dog, a leisurely stroll with friends or family, or more strenuous long distance hikes.

It’s a safe place to walk – there are numerous access points onto the Trailway, which offer a firm surface, safe crossing points, no stiles, and most importantly it’s traffic free.

There are links to the Stour Valley Way, The Wessex Ridgeway, The Jubilee Trail, and Hod and Hambledon Hills. Open access land, nature reserves and woods (such as Piddles Wood and Blandford Forest) are within easy walking distance.

Why not try some of these downloadable walking routes

Fiddleford Manor

Hambledon Hill

Three Churches


For cyclists the Trailway provides a link to many rural roads, which allows cycling for miles, virtually traffic free, whilst enjoying the Dorset countryside.  This Circular Mountain bike ride, incorporates The North Dorset Trailway, Stourpaine and Blandford Forest.

For horse riders, there are many routes to enjoy in and around the area.

Wild flowers line the North Dorset Trailway (C) Graham Rains

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