Felix and I drove to Wareham on Saturday morning in order to record instructions for the guide for the third leg of The Games Way. The route is shown below – you can get more details by clicking The route: day by day at the top of this page.
I have found this leg to be the trickiest one to plot. When I walked the full route a couple of summers ago I stayed on the South West coast path to Swanage, Studland, and then took a ferry across to Poole before going up the Castleman’s trailway to Wimborne. I loved Swanage and Studland, but I wasn’t really happy with taking a ferry, and with the notable exception of Upton House, the walk through Poole to Wimborne was not as good as I wanted.
Graham Faithfull, a fellow twitterer (@stourevalewalker) suggested going through Wareham Forest as an alternative route, and so I replotted the route. The last time I tried this route with Felix it wasn’t much fun – Felix was stressed about her PhD and I was throwing up in a field after eating something dodgy!
So we set out with some trepidation from Wareham, walking along the old walls before dropping into water meadows and heading north to Wareham Forest.
This leg is a very rural walk through woodland and farmland. There are no shops or pubs until Sturminster Marshall so it’s important to pack a lunch. Luckily Wareham offers plenty of choice!
The joy of this particular stage of the walk isn’t so much the spectacular views, although there are some great ones along the way. My particular favourite is from the top of Woolsbury hill fort across Wareham Forest. For me, the joy of this walk is in some of the smaller details along the way…
We found these ants the last time Felix and I came this way, and it was lovely to see them again, busily spring-cleaning the forest floor. They are inquisitive creatures and you can’t stop to watch for long without a shoe and trouser invasion being organised!
Near East Morden we came across a load of snowdrops on a bank around head height. They looked beautiful in the sunlight.
The walk goes across plenty of farmland and at Sellers Farm there’s a bit of a showcase for various tractor attachments across the ages, including this rather impressive looking plough.
As well as the snowdrops, there were plenty of other signs of Spring – the birdsong in the forest was a beautiful accompaniment to our lunch, and we saw deer and pheasants timidly pairing up. Rabbits were abundant and the lambs seem to be thriving on the new grass.
White Mill is one of the highlights of this walk although we had just missed closing time this time round. We spotted this warning on the bridge by the mill:
White Mill sits on the river Stour, which runs east to Wimborne and beyond. Wading in the water and successfully spearing several small fish was this fine bird. I’m not sure if it is a white heron or some kind of egret – any ideas?
A little further along was a small squadron of swans.
These three found a great spot for the weekend, unlike a pair we overheard bickering earlier. Apparently they had booked a romantic weekend away together at the travel agents, and had been promised something like this:
…but when they got there, they found that their “exclusive, quietly situated luxury pond for two” was actually this:
We arrived in Wimborne a little weary and ready to eat, so we got a taxi back to Wareham and ate at the Old Granary, right where we started the day. So much better than snacking out in the services on the way home!
Sign up now to join us on the first official walk of The Games Way. It’s free and you can bring your friends!
Join us for a day, a weekend or however long suits you. We’d love to share the experience with you.