Walking with heels at Holt Heath

Holt Heath, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 7JZ

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Explore the South West countryside with our collection of one mile walks © National Trust

Explore the South West countryside with our collection of one mile walks

Enjoy a walk past the vibrant heather and gorse © National Trust

Enjoy a walk past the vibrant heather and gorse

Holt Heath is teeming with wildlife © Mike Harry

Holt Heath is teeming with wildlife

Route overview

A circular walk around Holt Heath nature reserve which holds European importance.  There are woodland secrets and wildlife to enjoy and the walk start is a treat in itself and a lovely place to catch your breath.

  • Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder)
  • Type of walk: 'Flora & Fauna', 'Hidden Places'

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map of the Holt Heath walk in Dorset
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Whitesheet car park, grid ref: SU048037

  1. From the car park at Whitesheet walk through the gate in the fence, which is close to the car park entrance, and follow the track that meanders through conifer woodland.

    Show/HideHolt Heath formation and history

    The heath owes its origins to Neolithic man who cleared the established forest. Light grazing and burning, along with the extraction of peat and furze in later times prevented trees and scrub from re-emerging. The great drought of 1976 brought chaos to the countryside and East Dorset was no exception. Whitesheet Plantation was almost completely lost to the heat and forest fires, but fortunately the veteran trees in nearby Holt Forest and Wood survived.

    Explore the South West countryside with our collection of one mile walks © National Trust
  2. Head along the path, taking in the views until you get to a where the paths meet at a junction.

    Show/HideHolt Heath acreage

    In the 1630s the Lord Chief Justice of the day, Sir John Bankes, acquired the forest, wood and heath with additional holdings to the south. Today the area of the heath, from the north to the south of the Holt-Mannington road is approximately 1,048 acres (424 hectares).

    Enjoy a walk past the vibrant heather and gorse © National Trust
  3. Take the path heading towards Mannington Road.

    Show/HideBiodiversity

    The site supports a rich invertebrate community and all of Britains six reptile species can be found here. The heath is a stronghold for the Dartford warbler and many locals believe the area is a breeding site for curlews. The beautiful silver-studded blue butterfly can be spotted around the area along with dragonflies and damselflies. Children really enjoy finding the sundew, a carnivorous plant which loves the wet habitats and acidic soil found at Holt Heath.

    Holt Heath is teeming with wildlife © Mike Harry
  4. Turn left again and follow the narrow path through the heath.

  5. Turn left on the track adjacent to Upper Row Road to return to the path crossing then head back to the car park.

  6. We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk

End: Whitesheet car park, grid ref: SU048037

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
  • Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
  • OS Map: Landranger 195; Explorer 118
  • Terrain:

    Mostly heath tracks which can get wet under foot after rain. The heath is a great place for dog walking.

  • How to get here:

    By bus: Wilts & Dorset run a bus service No. 3 to Wimborne from Poole. Damory Buses have a limited service No. 301 to Holt from Wimborne

    By train: Poole Station 11.5 miles (18.5km) away

    By car: From Wimborne head north-east on B3078. Turn right onto Furzehill and continue onto Holt Lane, then turn right onto Holt Road

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