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Description – Bordering on Dorset, this tranquil corner of south Wiltshire lies in the heart of Cranborne Chase, an undulating tract of chalk downland with breezy ridges and secluded dry valleys or ‘bottoms’ – one of which hides the village of Tollard Royal. Tangled copses and a belt of woodland are all that remain of the great forest that covered an area of some 90 miles (145km). The oldest part, with hunting rights dating back to the time of King John (1167-1216), is centred around Tollard Royal. John hunted on the Chase and owned a small estate at Tollard, hence the ‘Royal’ in the village name. His lodge was on the site now occupied by King John’s House, an elegant Elizabethan manor house near the church.
Start time – 10.00
Distance – 4.5 miles (7.2km)
Minimum time – 2hrs
Ascent/gradient – 616ft (188m)
Level of difficulty – Easy
Landscape – Paths Field and woodland paths, bridle paths and tracks, chalk downland, sheltered combes, woodland
Suggested Map – OS Explorer 118 Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase
Dog friendliness – Can be off lead along Ox Drove and on Win Green Hill
Parking – Limited parking by pond in Tollard Royal (please car share if possible). Additional car parking at Tollard Royal’s King John pub – where there is the option for a shared lunch after the walk.
Footwear – walking boots essential and a waterproof / windproof jacket. Bring a snack to share too.
E me back if you’d like to join us (there will be a good contingent going from Glastonbury). Mobile signal in Tollard Royal itself is pretty poor so if you are planning to come but are delayed for any reason – do call me on 07971 136584 before 09.30 on Saturday 15th February and we will wait for you to join us.