Melbury Beacon walk

Walking trail

Melbury 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 longer walk you will discover an open expanse of flowery downland, excellent butterfly populations and magnificent views.

The view looking north towards Shaftesbury from Melbury Hill


An OS map of the Melbury Beacon 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 to Shaftesbury for about 300 metres.

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Walk through the gate and continue straight on, following the fence line towards Melbury Beacon. Drop down into 'the saddle' and continue straight up Melbury Down.

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The view looking north towards Shaftesbury from Melbury Hill


Once on the Beacon, take in the magnificent 360 degree view of the Blackmore Vale, Vale of Wardour and Shaftesbury.

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The Chalkhill blue butterfly perched on grass


From the Beacon, head left over the stile, taking a more southerly route along the fence until you join the path back to the main road and to the car park where you originally started.


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

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Melbury Beacon 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.

Melbury Beacon walk

Contact us

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

Melbury Beacon 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.

Melbury Beacon walk

Facilities and access

  • Pub in Fontmell Magna
  • Restaurant at Compton Abbas Airfield