Walk 2289 - printer friendly version
Abbotsbury Castle and Chesil Beach from Abbotsbury Walk
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 6.0 miles / 9.8 km
Ascent - 950 feet / 288 metres
Grade - easy/mod
Start - OS grid reference SY579851
Lat 50.66404 + Long -2.5970306
Postcode DT3 4JL (approx. location only)
The village of Abbotsbury is a wonderful place to start with its many stone built thatched cottages in a spectacular location beneath the downs. Other points of interest include the remains of St Peter's Abbey, Chapel Hill, Abbotsbury Gardens and the Swannery so what starts as a half day walk soon becomes a full day visit to the village. Cafés, pubs and a few shops complete the amenities of what is a very good place to start a walk.
There is a car park (Grid ref SY579851) adjacent to the remains of the Abbey on B3157 at the eastern end of the village. Normally there is an attendant to collect the fee. Exit the car park and turn left into Rodden Row and walk towards the village centre. At the T-junction turn right into Market Street and then first right into Back Street. A short way along on your left is a signed footpath, take this walled lane and begin the steady climb onto the downs to the north of the village. Nearing the top you reach a junction of paths (Grid ref SY574860). Bear left here to complete the climb turning left when you reach the ridge path, which is part of the South West Coast Path (inland route).
Walking west along the ridge of the downs, you have a wide ranging view. Of particular interest is the panorama to the south where Chesil Beach dominates the scene. Continuing west the path crosses a lane (Grid ref. SY557863) to skirt the earthworks of Abbotsbury Castle, an iron age fort. A few minutes exploring this antiquity is a worthwhile exercise as the earthworks are surprisingly intact. The exploration complete, continue heading west to reach the B3157 (Grid ref. SY550865). Cross over and follow the path for 200 metres to the first junction.
Turn left here and follow the path downhill keeping the field boundary to your left for the first 500 metres. Here the path goes half left towards East Bexington Farm where clear way marks direct you around the farm and south to a track behind the shingle bank of Chesil Beach (Grid ref SY546854). The beach is certainly spectacular from a distance especially when you can see the lagoons trapped behind the beach. However close hand there was a feeling of anti-climax as you topped the shingle bank and looked along its length. The missing ingredient was some idea of scale as shingle stretched in both directions almost as far as you could see. Notwithstanding this point of view, the beach is still remarkable.
Walking the shingle is hard on your legs so return to the track and walk south-east passing the old coastguard cottages to the point where the track becomes a lane. Stay on this lane to reach the parking area with toilets. An information board gives some background to the beach and the habitats it creates and there is a boardwalk making access to the beach much easier. From here continue along behind the beach and follow clearly signed path as it veers away from the sea towards Abbotsbury. At grid ref SY568847 there is the option to turn right and walk across the southern flank of Chapel Hill but on this occasion I opted to stay on the track and bear left at the next junction to exit onto West Street. Turn right and walk the full length of the village bearing right into Market Street and then left into Rodden Row. The car park where you started is on your right.