Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.
One of the advantages of being local is being able to pass on knowledge so that those of you travelling here on holiday can truly enjoy the beauty of the countryside and all it has to offer. Detailed below is just one of the excellent walks that criss-cross our stunning region. Enjoy!
On this route, you could head up to Lawrence of Arabia’s home, now owned by the National Trust, and pass by the site of his unfortunate motorcycle accident which caused his death. Alongside the fascinating history, you can take in marvellous views and see if you can spot wildlife trails in the woodland.
A particularly useful map is the Ordnance Survey OL 15 which is double sided and covers Purbeck and South Dorset - an ideal tool to help plan your Dorset Walk.
Lawrence Trail: Moreton and Clouds Hill
OS Land Ranger 194 and Explorer OL 15
How do I find it?
Moreton is a charming rural village tucked away on the River Frome, 10 miles east of Dorchester. You can get there from the A35 road to Bere Regis or via the A352 Wareham Road. Parking is available on the road near the cemetery.
Food and drink in Moreton:
Moreton has a dainty tearoom in the old school, offering brunch till midday and then scrummy afternoon tea is served.
Around the next corner, you’ll find the Victorian Walled Garden, also offering homemade cakes and meals at their cafe. You are also able to stock up on some local supplies of fresh produce from their own Victorian Kitchen Garden at the farm shop.
What's it like to walk?
6 miles (9.5 km) ᛫ 2.5 hours
A mix of forestry roads and muddy tracks over heath which can become so boggy in places as to require detours.
What you need to know before you visit:
Moreton has two unusual claims to fame. The pretty church was almost destroyed by the German Luftwaffe in 1940, the bombs were probably intended for the nearby airfield at Warmwell. The rebuild retained the ancient box pews and apsidal chancel but added a dramatic innovation. All the windows are clear engraved glass designed by Laurence Whistler. The result is a church interior like no other; it literally sparkles.
The second claim to fame is the connection with Lawrence of Arabia. We might well have forgotten him but for David Lean’s four-hour biopic starring Peter O’Toole. His grave is to the rear of the nearby cemetery; he was killed on a Bovington Heath road riding a motorcycle towards his home at the remote cottage, Clouds Hill. A full explanation of his life is on a display board by the church. His cottage is maintained by the National Trust and is open to the public.
On the heels of Lawrence of Arabia
Start at the cemetery in order to visit Lawrence’s grave which is at the far end. Return to the entrance and go down the road towards the tearooms then turn right in order to visit both the church referred to above and take in the display board detailing the life of Lawrence of Arabia.
Next, leave the church and turn right down the unsealed road. Cross the river by the concrete footbridge. Cross a second bridge over a tributary then, shortly after, turn right where it is signposted: Lawrence Trail. Bovington 2.
After the Forestry Commission gate, the boggy areas can be avoided by taking a higher path to the right. Beginning from the edge of the woodland, walk for about 20 minutes then turn left at the signpost: Lawrence Trail. Clouds Hill 1½.
For a shorter walk: When arriving at the Clouds Hill Road junction do not take the bridleway on the right but go straight on for 400m and turn left, following a Forestry Commission track into the plantation. Keep straight on and, in due course, this path will lead you back to Moreton.
Go uphill and eventually a fenced track passes through Ministry of Defence land to a country road. Cross with care to the small car park opposite and exit the far end onto a track through woodland. On arriving at the road turn left.
For a longer walk: When you visit Clouds Hill (NT) turn left again down the Bovington Road. From here, take the marked bridleway opposite the T-junction over Turnerspuddle Heath.
On arriving at the road junction, fork left towards Briantspuddle. Walk on the grass verge for 900m and, after a cattle grid just prior to a road junction, turn left beside a house. From now on, follow signs for the Jubilee Trail.
At the Tincleton Road go straight over. Watch out for a sharp right turn and again follow the Jubilee Trail signs to which will lead you across a couple of fields then back over the bridges to return to the village.
Once back, it’s time to treat yourself to a lovely cuppa at one of the tea rooms in Moreton, or collapse onto the sofa of your cosy holiday home.
Alongside our insider's knowledge of Dorset, we also have a collection of coastal cottages. Rest your weary feet after this walk in one of our holiday homes or seaside retreats.