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24 September 2014

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You are in: Dorset > History > Local History > Badbury Rings Walk

Sally Taylor and Joe McGann

Joe McGann and Sally Taylor

Badbury Rings Walk

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 archaeology team

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.

Badbury Rings

Bradbury Rings

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.

Stunning views

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

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 near Market Harborough

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

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.

Shapwick Monster

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.

Shapwick Church

Shapwick Church

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
created: 01/03/2005

Have Your Say

Have you walked around Badbury Rings? - tell us your tips and highlights.

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Annette Mostyn
I walked around last week and found a tiny blue flower which I cannot identify. It grows very close to the ground, the flowers are as bright as a Gentian with the white stamens protruding from a bell-shaped flower which was no longer than 1/2cm. The leaves are smooth. Can you help?

richard patterson
I walk around the rings 2 or 3 times a week and i have done for around 2 years its so peacefull i see deers rabbits i always feel nice and relaxed when i get home

matthew strawbridge
look out for the ghost Sue from BBC Dorset writes: Please can you let me have some more details about the ghost!? Email: or leave a reply here! Thanks

rhoda p
what a joy to find this site. in 1948 I used to go horse riding at badbury rings. will be back in Bournemouth next year and plan to visit the rings again.

Ron Lee and Garfield Jones
We, as boy, living near by, cycled this place, and had lot of fun, and imaged all sorts of thing that may have happened here.

M and D
Just got back from this beautiful walk. We would recommend it to anyone, however we found it took longer than we expected and estimated it to be closer to 11 miles rather than 6.

gerry Hird
When I first came to live in Dorset, the centre was full of trees with "avenue" pathways flowing from the trig point in the centre. It was very dark there after sunset. Today the lightplaying through the now open views provides some good photographic opportunities.

Nev Simpson
On a quiet summers night, if you close your eyes and listen very carefully you can hear the sounds of people talking and children laughing, and smell the smoke from cooking fires from an ancient time....a magical place!

colin alborough
some wonderful views are being spoiled by covering the top of the hill with a conifer plantation. Why? when about 15 years ago they cut down the deciduous trees to improve the view.

Derek Watkinson
The Rings make a good staring point for longer walks as there are easy connections to rights of way to other areas. The Dorset Group from the Long Distance Walkers Assocition have often started their social 20 milers from there. There are connections to bridleways as well at footpaths so its also a good pont to start an offroad cycling day.

Graham Botterell
Reading this has brought back memories of my childhood. I was five in the Mid Fifties and we went ther on my fathers works outing,( Lockes of Bournemouth)

Alan Ronchetti
Refreshments.just passed the church, Pamphill Dairy,Cream Teas Cakes Lunches open all year. also farm shop and butchers. We walk around Pamphill the river Stour, Cowgrove and All Fools Lane. ALL DOG FRIENDLY. 3-4 miles.

Malcolm Higgins
The rings are such a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful Dorset scenery. When you stand on a ring, imagine a Roman army assembling at the bottom of the hill and imagine what the Celts must have felt.

Eric Basire
My wife Rita & I visit the rings with most of our friends when they visit. One of the wild life events which is always around in summer are the hundreds of butterflies. Down between the rings in the protected areas away from the wind you will be amazed at teh wide variety which inhabit the masses of wild flowers.

Ian & Sue Smith
This is one of our favourite walking areas with a wealth of interest. Just to the northeast of Badbury Rings is the WW2 airfield at Tarrant Rushton from which troup-carrying gliders took off for the assault on Normandy in 1944. No aircraft today of course but the perimeter track is great for a Sunday afternoon walk or a jog if you're feeling really energetic.

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