A 3.5km (2ml) stride along Fontmell Down, a spur of chalk sticking out into the Vale of Blackmore with some of the finest views anywhere in Dorset, and that is saying a lot.
The paths can be a bit indistinct in places, but let's face it, you're never in any real danger of getting lost. Being on chalk it is usually good going underfoot. Probably best visited in the autumn, when the trees are turning.
Cups of tea are available at the nearby Compton Abbas Airfield.
Although the route out to the end is straight forward, on the way back there are three alternatives:
- The easiest to find, is the broad track along the top of the ridge (coloured red) which has fine views both to the north and south. However, we've already seen the view to the north and the view south into Longcombe Bottom is restricted by the edge of the hill.
- The second option is to take the lower path on the south side (coloured green). This affords good views into the valley, but is indistinct and tricky to follow in places.
- Both the above options suffer from intrusive levels of noise from the busy main road, particularly at the far end were there is a short stretch of path that runs right next to it. The third option (coloured yellow), therefore, is to cross over to the quieter north side of the hill and return by the same path we used on the way out.
It's a matter of personal preference, of course, but I'm beginning to get a bit obsessed by the level of traffic noise we have to put up with, so you can guess which one I prefer.