UK coastal walks: Stonebarrow, Dorset


Trail: Walking

Grade: Moderate

Distance: 1.7 miles (2.9km)

Time: 40 minutes to 1 hour

The highest points on this walk have lovely views over to Lyme Bay (Photo: VisitEngland/VisitDorset)

OS Map: Explorer 116 Lyme Regis and Bridport

Terrain: A circular walk off-the-beaten track. There are some steep steps and slopes on this walk as well as sections of coast path close to cliff edges. Walking boots are advisable. Well-behaved dogs are welcome but please keep them on a lead in fields with livestock.

How to get here

By foot: The South West Coast Path passes through the Golden Cap Estate

By bus: Coastline X53, alight at Newlands, Charmouth, then walk up Stonebarrow Lane, approximately 1 mile (1.6km) away. The First 31 bus can also be used.

By train: Axminster station 5 miles, on X53 and 31 service routes (see above)

By car: Come off the A35 between Lyme Regis and Bridport. From the west, go through Charmouth and take turning on right by Stonebarrow Manor into Stonebarrow Lane to top of hill, over the cattle grid. From the east, turn off at Charmouth, go past Newlands Holiday Park and take the next lane on left, as above.

The route

Start: Stonebarrow car park, grid ref: SY382933

1. The Stonebarrow shop and information centre is housed within an old radar station. From the shop, turn left and head for the clump of pine trees at the end of the car park.

2. Turn right before the trees and follow the fingerposts for Westhay Farm, passing by Monument Copse. The grassland on Stonebarrow is home to lots of butterflies like the small bordered fritillary and the common blue.

Point of interest

Westhay Farm was once part of a settlement dating back to the medieval period. The term ‘Hay’ is common in West Dorset and means an enclosure. In this area, the patchwork pattern of fields has been preserved and the traditional methods of farming have encouraged a plethora of wildlife including butterflies.

• Great days out in the UK

3. From here you can take a short detour into Monument Copse which marks the spot where local squire Robert Hilliard died in 1876. Continue through the hay meadows to Westhay Farm, given to the National Trust in 1961. This was the first land obtained by the National Trust in the area now known as the Golden Cap Estate.

Golden Cap is prominent on the Jurassic Coast landscape. (Photo: AP)

4. Turn right and head uphill to the next set of fingerposts, then turn left along the smugglers’ path. The next fingerpost should be signed Charmouth. Turn right and go up a few steps, then turn left and go up some more steps.

Point of interest

At the end of the 19th century, the main route from London to Exeter crossed the parishes of Chideock, Stanton St Gabriel and Charmouth. The sloping, unstable geology of Stonebarrow hill created difficulties for road builders, forcing them to try three different routes between Morecombelake and Charmouth.

• How the National Trust saved our coastline

5. At the top of the steps, turn left for Charmouth and walk to Cains Folly. There was once a Second World War radar station here.

Point of interest

The old radar station, made of concrete and brick, was built by the Ministry of Defence in the 1950s as part of the Cold War defences. It’s now used as a bunkhouse for our working holiday groups. It enjoys a fantastic elevated position on Stonebarrow hill with magnificent views across Lyme Bay, including Golden Cap, Chesil Beach and Portland Bill. The ruins of a Second World War radar station that collapsed during a landslide in the 1970s can be found nearby.

The highest points on this walk have lovely views over to Chesil Beach (Photo: VisitEngland/VisitDorset)

6. Continue up the hill and turn right before the kissing gate, through the squeeze and follow the marker back to the Stonebarrow car park.

End: Stonebarrow car park, grid ref: SY382933

More great coastal walking holidays in Britain

• Blakeney, Norfolk

• Gower peninsula, Wales

• Whitehaven, Cumbria

• Prawle Point, Devon

White Cliffs of Dover

• Old Harry Rocks, Dorset

• Lindisfarne and Holy Island, Northumberland

• Runkerry, Northern Ireland

• Stackpole, Wales

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