Wild garlic walks
As we look forward to being able to move outside our local area from next month, now seems like a good time to start planning some springtime walks to catch the wild garlic in bloom. It favours old, deciduous woodland and chalky soils, where it will grow in abundance on the forest floor; walking amid these great pungent drifts can be a rather heady experience! Read on to discover our favourite ramsons rambles in Dorset...
Easily reached from the northern edge of Shaftesbury just off the A350, Kingsettle Wood is an astonishing sight in spring, when it is densely covered in both wild garlic and bluebells. Its scarp location gives it particularly good views across the surrounding countryside. The walk linked below is a satisfying circular route from Shaftesbury’s Castle Hill, itself worthy of a visit for its far-reaching views over the Blackmore Vale. Further information
Early one spring morning during the first lockdown, we set off from Shaftesbury in time to catch the sunrise from the top of Melbury and continued on from there to Ashmore Wood. A combination of broadleaf woodland and mixed conifers, it is abundant with wildflowers and a wonderful place to wander through carpets of bluebells in late spring. The wildflower joy continued as we walked on to Fontmell Wood, where the wild garlic became the star of the show. The walk from Shaftesbury is a fairly strenuous leg-stretcher; for easier access to Fontmell Wood, you can park at the National Trust car park at Fontmell Down and take the fenced Dorset Wildlife Trust bridleway path south. Cross the road carefully to enter Fontmell Wood.
Tyneham Gwyle is a thickly wooded glen between the abandoned village of Tyneham and beautiful Worbarrow Bay. It’s inaccessible to the public owing to the presence of shell splinters from the Ministry of Defence's use of the area for army training but the footpath to the bay runs alongside, providing a tantalising glimpse and heady scent of wild garlic in spring. It’s a level walk that’s easily doable in about 20 minutes but if you want to extend your route, we recommend heading from the car park up to the ridgeway and along the top of the Purbeck Hills to the Iron Age hillfort of Flowers Barrow before descending sharply to Worbarrow Bay and then returning along the level path to the car park with Tyneham Gwyle to your left:
NB Having been caught out ourselves several times before, we strongly advise checking the MoD opening times before making a special journey to Tyneham and the Lulworth Ranges.
Wimborne St Giles
The villages of the Cranborne Chase have a distinctive appeal and this walk links two of its finest, Wimborne St Giles and Gussage All Saints. The rolling uplands of this area are wonderful walking country, while the woodlands near Wimborne St Giles are among the best places in the area to see wild garlic in spring. Look out for views of the ruined Knowlton Church en route, standing in the centre of a Neolithic henge.