Roger Donne's Miscellany

Further Afield - Cranborne Chase

The Tour

This tour of about 100km is suitable for a day and incorporates a ride through Rockbourne, along the valley of the Ebble, and a climb over Cranborne Chase.

Christchurch to Fordingbridge

The tour starts over familiar ground as on my Routes page. involving the Christchurch to Ringwood route and the Ringwood to Fordingbridge route.

Fordingbridge North through Rockbourne

Old milestone on Toyd Down

In Fordingbridge,  bear right at the end of the high street,and climbing the hill out of Fordingbridge to Sandleheath.

At Sandleheath, look for the crossroads and turn right towards Rockbourne.  The pretty village of Rockbourne is famed for its Roman Villa site, under the care of the Hampshire Museum Service.  You need to continue through Rockbourne.  Eventually the road bears sharp right across Toyd Down.  To the left, one of the original routes across the Downs to Poole is preserved as a farm track.  A relic of the importance of this road is preserved in the hedge in the form of a milestone, showing the distance to Poole Gate and to Cranborne

Into the Ebble Valley

Coombe Bissett

Continue along the Rockbourne road towards Salisbury and you will eventually reach the junction with the main road from Blandford Forum to Salisbury.  You need to join this road for a short distance, riding towards Salisbury.  The road leads you through Coombe Bissett, which is the next landmark to look out for, because here, a left turn will take you off the main road onto the quieter route up the valley of the River Ebble.

The Ox Drove - the drove road continues as a muddy track


The route along the Ebble is delightful, through the villages of Stratford Tony, Bishopstone and Broad Chalke. For the least strenuous trip, keep to the valley.  However, to retrace a piece of history, climb out of Broad Chalke towards Bowerchalke and continue to climb until you reach the only metalled section of the old Ox Drove or Ridgeway.  The old way runs for the complete length of the ridge, but I was daunted by mud and puddles and stuck to the short metalled stretch, which leads you down into the valley again at Ebbesbourne Wake. 

Over Cranborne Chase

Climbing up Charlton Down

From Ebbesbourne Wake, continue along the valley towards Shaftsbury, through Alvediston, and Bewick St John.  At the junction with the main A30, a left turn leads you back from the main road up the steep side of Charlton Down.  At the top you are rewarded by a splendid view over Cranborne Chase, at Win Green.  Leave Win Green, and return to the road, heading off the ridge towards Tollard Royal, and on towards Sixpenny Handley.

Crossing the line of the Roman Road

From Sixpenny Handley, head towards the Farnham village and the main Blandford to Salisbury road.  Pass through Gussage St Andrew and cross the road, heading for Gussage St Micheal and Gussage All Saints. Between the two villages, cross the line of Roman road, still clearly evident on its embankment as it heads north to link up with the main Salisbury road which in sections still follows the Roman course.

Knowlton Circles

Heading from Gussage All Saints back towards Cranborne and the Cranborne to Wimborne Road, a curiosity worth stopping for can be found at Knowlton Circles.  A fascinating combination of a ruined medieval church built within a prehistoric circle of ditches.

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