' On Sunday 11 September, 22 walkers (plus one dog) met at Badbury Rings near Wimborne for a largely flat circular walk on good tracks around the Kingston Lacy estate.
Badbury Rings is one of a series of Iron Age earthworks starting from Hambledon Hill in the Blackmore Vale, five miles northwest of Blandford Forum, which includes Hod Hill (a location on the forthcoming October walk), through to Hengistbury Head, where a final Iron Age monument concludes this small chain of ancient sites. Kingston Lacy is a large country house and estate that was for many years the seat of the Bankes Family who lived nearby at Corfe Castle until its destruction in the English Civil War. The house and estate, which also comprises extensive areas of land in the Isle of Purbeck, was given to the National Trust in 1982 and is open to the public. The walk today was essentially through the surrounding countryside and the periphery of the house grounds not the house/ grounds itself.
The weather forecasters had predicted torrential rain for Saturday - which had duly arrived - but had said that good weather would follow on Sunday, so we set off in the hope this would prove to be the case. Taking the track from the car park at the Rings we headed north east towards a small wood known as The Oaks where many of the trees are shrouded in ivy, creating a dark, macabre effect. Local folklore suggests this wood was once the abode of evil witches; however, we successfully navigated our way around this without losing any of the group to 'magic spells'. Our walk continued along a series of good farm tracks that afforded excellent views across the countryside towards Cranborne Chase, the occasional tumulus and, picturesque estate cottages, before reaching the main Blandford to Wimborne road. Here a re-routed footpath took us down into a little valley, then up the other side (the only steep climb on the route - and short at that) to the village of Pamphill. Lunch was taken on the large green which also serves as the village cricket pitch. Some of the group adjourned briefly to the nearby Vine Inn for beverages, a tiny hostelry where four people at the bar could be considered a crowd. No cricket match was scheduled to play on the green so we were denied the sound of leather on willow but enjoyed the tranquil environment. As we were leaving an ice cream van arrived, playing a terrible rendition of 'Land of Hope and Glory' that shattered the peace. Had it played 'The Happy Wanderer' (and in tune) it may have encouraged some sales!
After finishing our lunch we continued across the green, the ice cream van pursuing us along the road seemingly desperate for business but no-one was tempted. Following the avenue of oak trees away from our lunch spot we began to skirt round the Kingston Lacy estate proper, passing St Stephen's church. Although known as Kingston Lacy church and, having been built in 1907 by the trustees of W R Bankes, it is also the parish church of Pamphill, since there is no longer a village of Kingston Lacy. Our route then continued along past the old forge, various estate houses and, the large Kitchen Garden that has been significantly restored and brought back into use in recent years with allotment plots behind. Then, picking up a wide track we returned to the main road we had crossed previously. Here a magnificent avenue of beech trees stretches into the distance. The trees were originally been planted in 1835 and extend 1.5 miles from the main estate towards Blandford. Legend has it that there were originally 365 trees on one side of the avenue and 366 on the other (to account for leap years). Leaving the beech avenue by means of another track we headed back towards the earthworks, returning to the car park along the grassy ramparts which give spectacular views across the Dorset countryside. Here, another ice cream van was a bit more successful in tempting some of the group. The weather? Well, that stayed fine throughout, so the forecasters got it right! '