Dorset lads and BBC Folk Award nominees Ninebarrow have released a book featuring some of their favourite musical walks in the county. Joanna Davis finds out more.

KEEN walkers are invited to go on a journey with a pair of rising folk stars.

Dorset residents Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchadiere, collectively known as folk act Ninebarrow, are walking enthusiasts when not appearing on stages throughout the UK and have put together Ninebarrow’s Dorset, a book of diverse ‘musical walks’.

The strolls take in the landscape that has played such a huge part in the success of Ninebarrow's music.

The duo, named after Nine Barrow Down in the Purbeck hills, have carved themselves a distinctive niche on the folk roots scene with their outstanding harmonies, delicate instrumentation and engaging songs.

In 2017 they were nominated in the coveted Horizon category for Best Emerging Artist at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at the Royal Albert Hall – only a few months after Jon gave up his job as a teacher and Jay as a GP in favour of a full-time music career – a leap of faith that has clearly paid dividends.

“We’re so excited about this project.” says Jon. “The landscape of Dorset has inspired our music so much. We spend a lot of our spare time walking in some of the most stunning places and for a long time we have been wanting to share these walks with fans of our music. So many people we meet around the country have some kind of tie to Dorset – a friend living here or a family holiday they once had. They speak of its fairy-tale quality in a way that we totally understand - it’s exactly how we feel!"

Ninebarrow’s Dorset features 10 scenic and distinctive walks for all abilities, each the inspiration for one of the duo’s songs and accompanied with detailed instructions, stories, photography and hand-drawn maps.

The walks vary in length, with the longest from Corfe to Kimmeridge at nine miles, and the shortest, at Arne nature reserve, at four miles.

There are two walks at Abbotsbury, with one exploring the area's ancient stone monuments, one at the Osmington white horse described as 'a beautiful Ridgeway ramble', another at the lost village of Tyneham, one at Worth Matravers taking in St Aldhelm's Chapel and a Corfe Castle ridge walk at Nine Barrow Down, from which the band got its name.

Jay, who was brought up living on East Blagdon Farm near Cranborne, said: “We’ve split the tasks relating to the book quite evenly. Jon tends to do most of the writing and video editing while I’ve got more of a flair for the graphic design side. I’ve been drawing the maps and sifting through 20 years of photos to find the ones that capture these walks perfectly. It’s been a long time in the making.”

Jon grew up in Canford Heath near Poole.

He said: "For Jay, the ancient woodlands and chalk escarpments of Cranborne Chase were all around him until the age of ten.

"For me, whilst the heath and woodland that backed on to my childhood home certainly became a key part of my growing up, it was probably more the numerous weekend family walks on which I was taken that have inspired my life-long love of the county."

To celebrate publication of the book, Jon and Jay have unveiled a striking new music video which shows Dorset’s hills and coastline at their very best. “We’ve really tried to capture some of Dorset’s spell in this video”, says Jon.

The video is of the song Hwome [sic], taken from their 2018 album The Waters and the Wild. Released to widespread critical acclaim in April, it received 5-star reviews in both the English Folk Dance & Song Society’s EDS Magazine and The Morning Star, while it was described by folk luminary, Mike Harding, as ‘absolutely monumental’. In June 2018, the album also reached Number 2 in Amazon’s Folk Best-Seller chart.

The words of the song are adapted from the poem Comen Hwome [sic] by Dorset dialect poet William Barnes and take the listener on an aural journey ‘hwome’ through the county’s countryside. The video complements the poetry of the song perfectly with stunning shots of the Dorset landscape combined with crisp black and white footage of the duo performing the track at the old Corn Exchange in Dorset’s county town of Dorchester.

*See the video at

* Ninebarrow’s Dorset can be ordered at the duo’s website


Walks Included in the book and the Ninebarrow songs they inspired

1) Studland Circular | Blood on the Hillside

2) Arne | Birdsong

3) Langton Matravers | Halswell

4) Nine Barrow Down | Summer Fires

5) St Aldhelm's Chapel | The Pinner

6) The Ridgeway | Overthrown

7) The Grey Mare and Her Colts | To The Stones

8) Tyneham | For A Time

9) Osmington White Horse | Mother

10) Corfe Castle and Kimmeridge | Siege