Richmond Hill St. Andrews Church
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Saturday October 16th was a lovely bright day, and 19 turned up for our ramble, including 10 who have responded to our recent small ads in the Advertiser.
Our first stop was Bryanston; a school since the 1920’s, the big house (only built 1897) was formerly the home of the Portman family. Richmond Hill Church has a tenuous link with the family in that, when they moved out of Bryanston, they also parted with their seaside home in Boscombe.
As Chairman of the Governors, our minister then, Dr J D Jones, played a major role in the house being acquired as the premises for Wentworth School for Girls, now known as Bournemouth Collegiate School.
We parked in the next village, Durweston, a small community with its own primary school, modern village hall and several thatched cottages. Walking across the main road, we came to Durweston Mill, now converted into dwellings, but still in its attractive riverside surroundings.
There was still quite a crop of blackberries to sustain us, continuing our walk under the old bridge of the Somerset & Dorset Railway line (from Bath to Bournemouth West): the old station sign for Durweston & Stourplaine Halt now stands in Durweston playing fields.
Stourpaine also has some interesting properties which we passed on our way up Hod Drive, which eventually drops down to the river below Hod Hill; this path is considered one of the country’s prettiest (but it can get quite muddy in wet weather). This brought us to the foot of Hod Hill, a very steep climb, the knowledge of which had deterred some from coming on the ramble.
Hod Hill rises to a height of 469 ft, and was one of the country’s largest Iron Age hill forts, roughly a rectangle measuring 600m by 400m. In pre-Roman times it was occupied for over 500 years by the local Durotriges tribe, but in AD43 Vespasian made short shrift of occupying it. It commands wonderful views over the Blackmore Vale, and we could locate Shillingstone, Sturminster Newton and (possibly) Marnhull.
This was our lunch stop, warm when the sun was out, but too breezy when not, so we soon made our way down the long, less steep, slope to Stourpaine again, passing alongside the diminutive River Iwerne en route.
Following the path back to Durweston, we then drove into Blandford for a pleasant tea at the Georgian Tea Rooms, along the Georgian Passage opposite the Parish Church.
All enjoyed the day, and are looking forward to the next ramble on November 6th, a short walk into Cranborne and then exploring an interesting site there total distance about 3 miles.
Why not join us on another outing? We make a 9.30 start, for a morning-only walk, finishing with a pub lunch.