Musical walks with Ninebarrow

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Regular readers of The BV will know that editor Laura and husband Courtenay Hitchcock are keen walkers, sharing some of their routes – and stunning photographs – in the magazine.
But for those who would like even more of Dorset’s dramatic and inspiring landscape, there is a new collection of walks from Dorset’s much-loved folk duo Ninebarrow – James LaBouchardiere and Jon Whitley.
For some years, the duo, renowned for their beautiful harmonies and charming original songs, have been leading walks and writing books to introduce their fans and fellow walkers to different areas of their home county, which inspires so much of their music – they even took their name from the Purbeck landmark Nine Barrow Down.
Their third volume of Ninebarrow’s Dorset Walking Book contains ten routes in some of Dorset’s most spectacular and exciting scenery – the Purbeck coast, North Dorset’s ancient hillforts and the mysterious landscape of Cranborne Chase where you can find traces of human activity that date back many millennia.

The muse is the wild
It is some years now since Jon and Jay gave up their day jobs (Jon was a teacher and Jay was a GP) to become full time musicians. That decision has paid off, with a string of critically acclaimed albums – the most recent is their fifth, The Colour of Night – as well as two books of walks, and a sideline in organising musical walking holidays, which combine three days of walking with fine food and evening concerts.
Walking is an essential part of their lives: “The outdoors is our muse,” says Jon. “For Jay and I, walking is a creative experience. We never feel more creative than when we’re out hiking.”
There is certainly plenty to inspire your imagination in this latest collection of walks, which are graded from easy to moderate to challenging to hard, and are mostly around five to six miles. The ten routes are: Hambledon Hill and Hod Hill; Badbury Rings; Martin Down; Ballard Down; Ringstead and White Nothe; Lulworth Cove and Mupe Bay; Lyscombe Bottom; Duncliffe Hill; Cerne Abbas; and Tynehgam and Kimmeridge.
The walks are well-researched and described, both in words and in beautiful photographs. There are clear maps and directions, and essential advice on the basic facts such as availability of loos, where to leave your car and where you can find refreshment on or after your walk. There are also handwritten side-bars giving additional information on such features as medieval lynchets, Iron Age hill-forts, the origin of place names or what you can see from a particular high-point.
The book is a handy size that fits in a pocket or backpack and has a sensible, strong plastic cover. It all adds up to a very useful addition to the walking library of anyone who loves Dorset – and if you don’t already know it, it should also encourage you to listen to Ninebarrow’s music.

Ninebarrow’s Dorset Walking Book – Vol.3 is available to pre-order now from their shop: ninebarrow.co.uk

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