The track of the long-since abandoned Somerset and Dorset railway line has been renovated to provide a footpath and cycleway along the Stour Valley in North Dorset. Depending on your physical capabilities you can walk (or cycle of course) from Sturminster Newton to Blandford Forum, about ten miles. Partly because that is far too much for us these days and, in any event, to enjoy the nature you need to walk quite slowly, we tend to walk it in short stretches and one such stretch runs from the centre of Stourpaine north westwards and on towards Shillingstone,
We park in Stourpaine (usually at the White Horse where we book a table for lunch before setting off) and walk down through the village past the recreation ground and on to the trailway itself where the path leads through an avenue of beech trees. You then cross the river Stour with views along the river both ways before it opens up in to open farmland. There are pleasant views to Hod Hill and Hambledon Hill to the right. The path then leads on through a cutting and woodland until reaching the outskirts of Shillingstone which is where we tend to turn and walk back the way we came, it looks different going in the opposite direction!
It is a pleasant walk of around three miles but it is perhaps not a top wildlife location. Lunch at the White Horse in Stourpaine is a fine way to end ones expedition!