Walk 1328 - Minterne Magna & the Cerne Giant
Walk Route Description
Dorset is a county full of rural charm. This walk includes some fine ridge walking, two fine country houses, interesting village scenes and the Cerne Giant on the hillside to the north of Cerne Abbas. The start is the Kettle Bridge picnic area (Grid ref. ST663014) which is signed from the A352 Sherborne to Dorchester road.
After parking walk to the car park exit and turn left down the lane. Turn right and follow a footpath beside the River Cerne into the village. At the path fork go left over a footbridge to reach Abbey Street. (Note - The village of Cerne Abbas is worthy of further detailed exploration and this can be undertaken either now or at the end of the walk). Turn left towards the ruins of the Abbey and go through a metal gate just after passing a small pond. Go diagonally across a cemetery to emerge into a field. Keep in the same direction to reach the base of Giant Hill.
Cross stile and continue uphill to reach the fenced area protecting the Cerne Giant. Do not go steeply uphill but contour across the side of the hill on a clear path with the fence surrounding the Giant on your right. The view of the Giant is disappointing at this stage of the walk and you have a few miles to put under your boots before the grand finale!
Continue across the side of Giant Hill climbing gradually with views across the valley to the Manor House at Up Cerne and beyond. The path reaches a stile. Cross the stile and aim for the barn. Continue in the same direction following a waymarked path with the fence on your left to reach a road (Grid ref. ST 673031). Turn left along the road for approximately 500 metres. Just after a group of trees take the bridleway on the left. This leads you across fields keeping the fence on your left.
Reaching a broad track (Grid ref. ST 669 043), turn left. Stay on this track for just over a kilometre. The track descends towards the road at Dogbury Gate. However a few hundred metres before the road is reached take the signed foot path on your left (Grid ref. ST 657 051) which descends across a field to a cottage. Do not exit onto the road but turn sharp left across the field to start the walk back towards Cerne Abbas.
The path crosses pastureland with the River Cerne on your right. Minterne House comes into view ahead. Built in the early 20th century its gardens are open to the public. The path becomes a track and crosses a stream by a footbridge and then climbs up to meet the main road with Minterne Magna Church worth a visit.
Turn left along the main road taking care with the traffic. After passing the last cottage turn right up a tree lined path (Grid ref. ST 658 040). At the top of the avenue the path bears left and climbs up to reach a lane. Cross the lane and descend through trees to a lane with a pond opposite. Turn left into the hamlet of Up Cerne. At the road junction turn right and continue along the lane to a further junction (Grid ref. ST 654 024). Turn left and follow this lane back towards Cerne Abbas.
Turn right onto the main road and a short way along on the eastern side of the road is the viewing point for the Cerne Giant together with some information boards detailing its history. From here fork left off the main road and take the first left. This leads you back to the start.