Powerstock Common is a wooded area once part of the old Royal Forest of Powerstock in West Dorset. Referred to as the ‘Common of Poorwood’ in 1774 records, today it is part of the Kingcombe National Nature Reserve looked after by Dorset Wildlife Trust. Its intricate mosaic of unimproved wet and dry grassland, scrub, woodland and small copses supports an impressive list of rare and protected species. This sometimes-hilly walk rewards your efforts with exceptional views, wildflower meadows browsed by an abundance of butterflies and bees, traditional thatched cottages and historic farmhouses.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: The former brick kilns and ponds at the start of the walk. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)The former brick kilns and ponds at the start of the walk. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

The Walk

1. From the car park, follow the track edged with trees and bushes, enjoying the bird song as you go. Past the second car park with Powerstock Common information boards, go through 1½-gates. Continue to the ‘Bridleway and Dorset Wildlife Trust’ arrow-post. Turn right, then take the left green ‘Brick Kiln’ bridleway-path - before the railway cutting. Follow the right trees/bushes up the open common, past a low bridleway-post, and into the meandering path through trees. Past the left fenced brick kilns and pond, continue up through woodland (some mud) and along open common’s right edge. Pass another low bridleway-post in trees with a small right pond. Keep meandering through trees and bracken. Cross a main track with 1½-gates right. Continue up through coppiced hazel and ancient oaks. Through a bridleway-gate, continue, ignoring side turnings, through trees with commons outside both sides. Soon, on your right, there are extensive views towards Lewesdon Hill, Pilsdon Pen and distant Charmouth.

2. Continue on the path, in and out of trees, past a left gate into fields with Barrowland Farm across the valley. Descending now, through bracken, pass two spindly pines. Ignoring side turnings, continue down through coppice and bracken - following hoof-prints. Meeting a green track T-junction with a bridleway-post, turn right and continue down. In a few yards, the track bends right. Don’t! Go straight past a bridleway-post into the narrow path through coppice with some mud and marsh grass. Still descending, negotiate the boggy area, becoming clear again through coppice and descending steeply to the fence’s bridleway half-gate out of the woodland onto the green with facing trees - actually the end of a deep hedge. Turn left and instantly right to follow the right trees/hedge path down the field with Eggardon Hill far left. Follow the path bending right into the trees to the nearby bridleway half-gate leaving Powerstock Nature Reserve.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Down the field with Eggardon Hill far left. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Down the field with Eggardon Hill far left. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

3. Through, walk down the field, then along the right hedge towards some barns. Go through the wrought-iron bridleway-gate with left stone-barn. Here, take the designated but un-arrowed footpath through the grounds of Whetley Orchard house by turning instantly right up the mown grass. The footpath was originally a farm track for taking milk churns to the railway for collection, not to a crossing point. Up to 1½ iron-gates, go through and continue past left stone-barn to 2½ iron-gates. Through into a large field, follow the mown path left along the wooden fence then bend right up along the hedge, looking out for temporary electric fences and possibly a ram and sheep (dogs on leads here). Into the top-left corner, go through any stored items, climb over the old railway fence and scale the embankment. Cross the railway track to the footpath-arrowed stile in bushes. Over, follow the right fence path to the corner gate. Through, follow the left hedge north (N) past a left gate to the hedge’s footpath-stile and ditch sleeper. Over, go over the fence’s footpath-stile into the field corner.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: 17th-century Wytherston Farmhouse. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)17th-century Wytherston Farmhouse. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

4. Follow the left hedge under oaks and over the field (N) to the left corner and right along trees/fence and down past a solitary ash and left gateway to the footpath half-gate in the fence. Through, walk down the path under trees onto mown grass. (The footpath half-gate down by the stream comes from Powerstock village). Follow the ‘lawn’ around past the tree’s footpath-arrow and past the left cottage. Continue up past another cottage to the facing gable-end with two-way bridleway arrows. Turn left. Pass right Wytherston Farmhouse, which dates from the 17th century with rubble-stone barns and cart-sheds of the same period. Continue straight on to Wytherston Farm Lane, Hungry Hill, the road to Powerstock. Hungry Hill, called Hunger Hills in 1840, is a derogatory name for poor ground, too stony, too wet and non-productive. Continue over the stream bridge, then take the right two-way bridleway-signed gate. Through, follow the right trees through several paddocks and un-arrowed gates to a half-gate into a field corner. Through, turn right along the trees and across the valley to the corner bridleway-gate. Through onto the track, go right and swing left between thatched cottages.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Woodland track after Copse Barn. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Woodland track after Copse Barn. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

5. Through the facing gate, walk straight up the field track to a bridleway-gate hiding under bushes. Through into the field corner, keep straight on (NNE) towards timber-clad Copse Barn cottage. Ignore facing bridleway-gates. Take the right bridleway twin-gates onto the ascending hardcore track to the top bridleway-gate. Through, continue up the stony woodland track, becoming grassier until the track makes a definite bend left. Caution! On your right at this bend, take the scarcely visible narrow path. In a few yards, this widens to a grassy track. Continue through trees to the fence-gate (new sleeper gateposts, but no arrows). Through into a high wide field, walk ¼-right (E) across to the new hedge/fence-gate. Through, with Gray’s Farm forward-left, walk ¼-right to the new bridleway half-gate near the right corner.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Field path to Gray's Farm. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Field path to Gray's Farm. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

6. Through, go through trees/hedge to the wooden half-gate. Through, walk up the field to the right corner bridleway 1½-gates. Through into a working yard, walk straight through and along the concrete track past the low right stone cottage. Onto Gray’s Farm drive, turn right. Continue around the left bend and the drive becomes a hedged track, rising slowly for ¼ mile and passing right barns. At the road T-junction, turn right. It’s ½ mile back to the start, all downhill with long views right. Down to the railway bridge, go under. If flooded, take the ascending fenced path/track. Over the rail track, go down the blue-posted path on the other side. Continue to the right car park where you started.

Compass Points

Distance: 4 miles/6.25 km

Time: 2½ hours

Start: Powerstock Common DWT free car park off the Toller Whelme to Eggardon Hill lane (Grid Ref: SY547974)

Exertion: Sometimes hilly, sometimes boggy requiring waterproof footwear

Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194

Public Transport: None

Dogs: On leads where livestock is or where requested, abide by The Countryside Code.

Refreshments: Spyway Inn, Askerswell (Weds-Sun) for wood-fired pizza and local beers or The Coach House Café at Mapperton (Sun – Fri) for light lunches and cream teas