Compton Down walk

Walking trail

Compton Down was bought in memory of English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy, to protect the landscape in which his novels of the Blackmore Vale are set. On this short walk you will discover an open expanse of flowery downland, excellent butterfly populations and magnificent views.

A view of a field of grass at the Fontmell Downs near Shaftesbury Dorset


An OS map of the route of the Compton Down walk


Car park at the top of Spread Eagle Hill, grid ref ST886187


Turn left out of the car park and follow the road north towards Shaftesbury for about 300 metres.


Go through the pedestrian gate and continue straight on, heading towards the beacon.

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Cowslips in the grassland on Fontmell Down


As you drop down into 'the Saddle', turn left through the pedestrian gate.

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View across Compton Down looking south west


Head along the top of Compton Down in a southerly direction with the fence on your left.

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Step over a stile (concealed within the thick hedge) and down onto a track.


Turn left up the track in a westerly direction which will bring you back to the car park.


Car park at the top of Spread Eagle Hill, grid ref ST886187

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Compton Down walk


The down has open access, so you can explore the whole area. The well used paths and tracks include steep slopes, with uneven surfaces which become muddy and slippery after wet weather. Dogs are welcome under close control, as livestock grazes the down.

Compton Down walk

Contact us

For more information please contact the Ranger Clive Whitbourn on 07788 480686 or by email.

Compton Down walk

How to get here

The car park at the top of Spread Eagle Hill
By road

From Shaftesbury head south on B3081 and follow signs to Melbury Abbas. There is a car park on the right at the top of Spread Eagle Hill, just before the left turn to Compton Abbas Airfield.

By bus

From Shaftesbury take the Wilts & Dorset service 182 to Compton Abbas and Fontmell Magna.

By bicycle

The North Dorset Cycle Way passes through Shaftesbury and runs just south of the estate, passing through the village of Fontmell Magna.

Compton Down walk

Facilities and access

  • Pub in Fontmell Magna
  • Restaurant at Compton Abbas Airfield