Joe McGann and Sally Taylor
Badbury Rings Walk
By Joe McGann
BBC South Today's Sally Taylor and I took a walk at Badbury Rings, the Iron Age hill fort in the grounds of Kingston Lacy House near Wimborne. We met some of the people who live and work in the area and found out more about its facinating history.
This is a walk of around five to six miles, with no hills to speak of and so is suitable for all levels of fitness. You will need OS map number 118 and the walk is very easy to follow from the map.
Joe and Sally with the archeology team
We started the walk in the car park of the Badbury Rings themselves and walked up to the hill fort.
It's a National Trust maintained site with helpful information on various notice boards around the area. You will need three and a half hours for the full walk or you can vary the length and time by using the various car parks en route.
We met the National Trust's consultant archaeologist for the Rings, Martin Papworth, and were surprised to find that the first dig on the site had turned up evidence that the area had been occupied for twice as long as had first been estimated - almost 10,000 years.
This means that the Rings were occupied 4,000 years before the pyramid at Giza was built.
We also discovered that the site may well have been the location of a battle between the Romano-British and that most legendary of British heroes, King Arthur. Stunning views and all this history make this a most rewarding place to visit.
Walking from the Rings towards Kingston Lacy House and grounds, we met with Doug Lucas, who was making traditional wattle hurdles, as he and his family have done in the area for the last 200 years.
Blacksmith, Annabelle Stewart
The wood was sourced from coppiced Hazel and it was delightful to see such a traditional craft at first hand.
Heading further towards the village of Pamphill, we passed through part of the Kingston Lacy estate with its beautiful Church, magnificent avenues of trees and a carpet of snowdrops.
Walking the Highlights of Harborough
Stour Valley Path
At this point of the walk we found ourselves following the route of the Stour Valley Path and up the lane into Pamphill village itself were we found the Abbot Street Forge, and the work that Blacksmith couple Giles and Annabelle Stewart do there. The forge itself is about 150 years old and was the main Smithy and Farrier for the estate.
Moving on and along the Stour Valley Path we meet the river itself at White Mill, with its stunning bridge and views along the Stour Valley.
The path then follows the river west along its banks towards the village of Shapwick.
Climbing the hill fort
There are NO DOGS allowed along this section of the walk – this is to protect the wildlife along the river’s edge - we saw Herons and Egrets, there are otters, swans and all sorts of creatures living on the banks and the water meadows in the valley. Absolutely delightful.
The village of Shapwick and its lovely Church come into view. There is a local story of the Shapwick Monster. Apparently, 100 or so ago, some locals were working in the fields near to the Church and they came across a 'monster' lying in the field, just near to where an itinerant trader had previously set up his stall.
The creature caused so much astonishment that the local wise man of the village was wheeled down from his sickbed to the site in a wheelbarrow to investigate. The wise local took one look at the 'monster' and declared it to be 'a very fine crab!' Amazing to think that most of the village couldn't recognise the creature.
The legend of the Monster can be found on the wall of the Anchor Pub at Shapwick, where we ended our walk.
Peter and Janet Miller are the hosts and offer a warm welcome to the various walkers and television personalities that step hungry and muddy through their doors.
After fortifying ourselves, there was a short walk north up the lane and back to the car park at Badbury rings.
last updated: 05/03/2008 at 13:28
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