Opening times for 4 December 2023
Asset Opening time Countryside Dawn - DuskMTWTFSS2728293012345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728293031
The small car parking area at Spread Eagle Hill provides level access onto the downs
Dogs are welcome under close control, as livestock graze the downs. Any limited restrictions will be notified by appropriate signs
The small car parking area at Spread Eagle Hill provides level access onto the downs. The downs comprise of open grassland with some well-used routes. There are areas of steep sloping downland, which will become muddy and slippery after wet weather. Main routes are accessible for most wheelchair users and pushchairs. Keep dogs on leads as livestock graze the downs.
Accessible route and/or map
Main routes are accessible for most wheelchair users and pushchairs.
The downs comprise of open grassland with some well-used routes. There are areas of steep sloping downland, which will become muddy and slippery after wet weather. At Win Green, a route leading to the topograph and trig point is accessible along flat grassland Fontmell Down has a circular route along fairly level grassy paths, starting from the car park
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
A series of bridleways and footpaths lead onto the downs from the local villages of Melbury Abbas, Compton Abbas and Fontmell Magna
Gillingham train station 9 miles from Fontmell car park
From Shaftesbury take the Wilts & Dorset Bus service 182, Mon-Sat, stopping at Compton Abbas and Fontmell Magna.
The North Dorset Cycle Way (National Cycle Network Regional Route 41) is a 73-mile route along quiet country lanes and villages. It passes through Shaftesbury and runs just south of the estate, through the village of Fontmell Magna
Find out where you can walk your dog on Fontwell Down, an area of natural beauty with views across Blackmore Vale, and the things to be aware of when you visit.
The Forest School at Fontmell Down is a private woodland hired out exclusively for the use of schools and community groups. Find out more about the learning experience on offer.
An area of natural beauty, bought to protect the landscape in which Thomas Hardy's novels are set.
A short circular walk that takes in the cross dyke (wall and ditch) and chalk downland landscape, and the wildlife on Fontmell Down, with far-reaching views.
A quiet coastal getaway awaits at this seaside cottage set on a farm, with stunning sea views over Chesil beach.
Get a spectacular taste of 1930’s glamour in this stunning Art-Deco, Hollywood -Spanish inspired style villa on the Dorset coast.
Deep in the Dorset countryside with views of the coast, is this pretty thatched cottage.
A thatched farm house with a cosy country interior and acres of surrounding land to explore.
This area of natural beauty was bought in memory of Thomas Hardy, to protect the landscape in which his novels are set. Fontmell Down and Harding's Down offer stunning views that stretch for miles across the Blackmore Vale.
From the car park at the top of Spread Eagle Hill, you can embark on many circular walks across the chalk downland. It's a fantastic place to spot butterflies and orchids, which thrive here.
Head north towards Compton Down and Melbury Hill and you will find one of the best displays of glow-worms during June and July (if the weather is good).
Melbury Hill, meanwhile, marks the high point of a spur, offering sweeping views across much of the downs.
The Melbury Beacon is located 863 feet above sea level and reaching it rewards walkers with wonderful views to the north of the Saxon town of Shaftesbury and across to the surrounding counties.
Nearby Melbury Down is a dry valley that cuts the ridge of Cranborne Chase and straddles the counties of Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire.
Wild juniper has been in steady decline for decades and is also under threat from a root disease caused by a fungal pathogen. Find out how we’re saving the shrub at Compton Down.