Dorset Walks

The Ox Drove & Vernditch Chase 12 or 6 miles

Every month in the Blackmore Vale Magazine we publish a walk in the beautiful Dorset countryside under the heading ‘Take a hike’. Not always in the heart of the Blackmore Vale perhaps, but always within reach for a day’s walk.

What is unique about these walks is the fact that we have created and then walked them all ourselves! We always aim to create interesting, unpopulated routes with as little road use as possible and of course as many beautiful views as we can squeeze in.

You can always see the routes we take and follow them yourself via the Outdoor Active App – see all our routes here. – Click on contents tab.

We usually aim for between 10 – 15 miles, although due to many requests and to keep everyone happy we have now added some shorter routes between 5 – 10 miles in length.

Above all, we hope you enjoy reading about the walks that we do and enjoying the pictures of course, but if you are taking them on yourself, we would love to receive your feedback on how you found the individual route and any suggestions you might have. Oh and of course we would love to receive your pictures to share as well!

The Ox Drove & Vernditch Chase 12 or 6 miles

The pinch point in the middle of this Vernditch Chase Walk is an easy and obvious point to split the route in two equal sections. The right hand circular was a shorter walk of ours which we have extended to make a decent day’s hike. If you want a shorter walk, when you reach  the road in the centre of the route simply walk up it back to the car – just a few minutes. Come back another day and do part two!

This walk combines wide chalk downland views from the ridge walking of the Ox Drove, with long straight roman route sections through forest paths. It’s an easy going route on well-defined paths – lots of long easy broad stretches for you to enjoy the plentiful panoramic views, combined with the cool shady sections – this is a good one for a hot day!

As we came down towards the road crossing at Pribdean Wood we were EATEN by horseflies – be aware if you don’t have any anti-bite spray on!

The long straight stretch of Vernditch Chase tends to be very wet – in summer there are still stretches which require careful navigating in all but the best footwear, in winter it will be very messy!

There’s plenty of off-road area for parking at the start of the walk.

Ox Drove & Vernditch Chase

The last straight track is a parallel course to the Ox Drove above the Shire Rack – by taking it you avoid the road stretch up to the Drove from Middle Chase Farm, but the track is dead straight and high-hedged all the way: slightly monotonous. On a stifling hot day I’d be inclined to take the Ox Drove instead to make the most of the views.

Ox Drove & Vernditch Chase

The path from the Ox Drove onto the Middleton Down Nature Reserve draws you down into the hidden valley.

Ox Drove & Vernditch Chase

Much of the route looks like this – according to the map, this path runs through the hedge boundary between two fields – it turned out to be an ancient green lane to Cobley Farm.

Ox Drove & Vernditch Chase

What I expected to be a tiny little copse beside Middle Chase Farm turned out be a beautiful  curved path through a cathedral-like stand of forest. 

Ox Drove & Vernditch Chase

The Middleton Down Nature Reserve loop is rather  unnecessary – but I do urge you to add the extra length on to see the beautiful folded valley, and the swathes of wildflower downland in the summer.

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