Dorset Group 21Mar24 : Upwey Springs and Ridgeway Barrows

Our walk today promised spectacular views both seaward and inland, but alas was sadly thwarted by mist! However, it didn't rain, something we've seen too much of!

Commencing at Upwey, a charming village of beautiful houses, nestled amongst the chalk hills north of Weymouth, we passed the famous Upwey Spring and it's accompanying ever popular tearooms, then took a steep, very muddy track to join the Jubilee Trail.
Heading westwards along the trail, passing tumuli on Friar Wadden Hill, we eventually descended into Corton Farm, comprising a fine Grade 2 listed house and the tiny, charming St Bartholomew's Chapel and other classic old farm buildings.

Taking a short break here to explore the interior of the chapel and views of this remote hamlet, we then circled Corton Hill, heading north to the higher ground of Corton Down, eventually arriving on the South Dorset Ridgeway, part of the South West Coast Path.
This was an ideal spot to rest after the very steep climb, to enjoy our picnic lunch despite the poor visibility on higher ground. Once refreshed, we then headed eastwards along the Ridgeway with faint views of Dorchester to the north and the massive Maiden Castle, one of Europe's largest Iron age hillforts with its Roman Temple remains, and Weymouth and Portland on the coast to the south. We passed many tumuli or barrows on the way, further evidence of this area's rich and ancient past, which continues along the Ridge to the 'Bincombe Bumps' and a rare long barrow, but not included in our walk today.

We then began our descent southwards to Upwey, following a long and very fine new stretch of dry stone walling, leading to the old Roman Dorchester to Weymouth Road. This is adjacent to the area where the mass grave of a large group of beheaded Vikings was discovered during the construction of the newer Dorchester to Weymouth relief Road, and their remains are on display in the new and impressive Dorset Museum in Dorchester. Eventually arriving at The Old Ship Inn at Upwey, our original start point, this completed our 8 mile circuit, so we enjoyed a well-earned drink at the Pub!

Our turnout today? 13, who all enjoyed the day despite the occasional mud and lack of great views denied us by the mist!

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