Set among the lovely Purbeck Hills, East Creech Farm offers camping and camping pods as well as…
Until quite recently, Furzebrook’s roads were stained white by lorries from the clay pits: the village was once the centre for the Dorset extraction of ball clay. This is a clay formed of particularly fine, uniform particles, useful for many sorts of pottery, from fine white teapots to toilet bowls and basins. Dorset and Devon have some of the world’s most important deposits.
Furzebrook is an unremarkable estate village of Victorian houses, while Furzebrook House is once more a private home. Commandeered during World War II, it was in such poor shape by the end of it that the owners, the Barnards, refused to take it back. It became, instead, a government research establishment, which it remained for years. The Blue Pool is a beauty spot on the Furzebrook Estate. It was first opened to the public by T T Barnard in 1935. Gloriously set amid trees, the pool itself is an old clay pit filled with rainwater, and it is the minute ball-clay particles suspended in the water that refract the sunlight and give the pool its deep turquoise colour. The body of water is at its most vivid on a cold, grey day. At other times it appears emerald green.
There are lots of woodland paths to explore, as well as an adventure playground for children and a museum of the clay industry. You can enjoy the beautiful setting on this walk, whether or not the pool itself is open. The heathland, woodland and open water, all undisturbed for more than 50 years, were in 1985 designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). There are areas of ancient oakwood, with lush secondary growth on the abandoned clay workings. Deer (including the tiny Sika), badgers, grey squirrels and dragonflies are common here. Luckier sightings could include the greencoloured sand lizard and smooth snake, plus birds such as the Dartford warbler. Rare in the UK as a whole, marsh gentians are fairly common here. Look out for them between July and October.
Walk south on the main road through the village, passing the drive to Furzebrook House on your left. At the end of the park wall turn left down a drive, signed to the Blue Pool. After a parking area (for paying visitors), pass the entrance to the Blue Pool on your right.
Continue ahead (signed ‘Purbeck Way’) into the woods. Stay on the main track (marked ‘Purbeck Way and Corfe Castle’; ignore a path to the left), to go through a kissing gate onto the heath. In 30yds (27m), at a marker stone (‘Purbeck Way’), bear right off the track onto a peaty path through gorse and heather (southeast). At the heath edge go through another kissing gate. At a marker stone signed ‘F.P. to Corfe’, turn right over the duckboard walkway. The wet path leads you (southwest) through pretty woodland dripping with moss and lichen. Cross a sleeper bridge over an orange-stained marsh. After a pool on your left, continue along the boundary fence and further duckboards.
At a junction of paths (with bridges to your left) go straight on, following the blue marker, signposted ‘East Creech’. Pass a reedy pool on your left on the broad path up through the woods. Ignore any side paths to the right, and keep on the main path (west), marked for East Creech, to a road.
Turn left, past the turning for East Creech Farm camp site, to a junction. Turn right here, up the road into East Creech village. At the end, keep right at a left turning. The quiet valley road passes woods and Creech Barrow Hill, both on your left. It rises steadily to pass thatched Cotness Cottages, again on the left. As the road starts to descend there are views over the Isle of Purbeck, with Wareham ahead.
Turn right along the driveway of Cotness Farm, and before the farm gate cross a stile to the right. Cross the narrow part of the field ahead and turn left along the foot of the woods, down the field to cross a stile at its corner. Turn half left away from the fence, through laurel and rhododendron, and then on a faint path (northeast) across the heath, through trees and gorse.
At a waymarker (yellow arrow), cross over two tracks to join a track, bending to the right (east). After a kissing gate the track runs through birches, with bracken below. Pass between a shed and a garden fence, then pass a house on your right and walk straight ahead to meet the road. Turn left and retrace your steps through Furzebrook to the start.
Country lanes, heath and woodland tracks (may be boggy)
Heath, woodland, rolling country
Some road walking; on lead in the Blue Pool reserve and on heath to east of Cotness Farm where deer abound
OS Explorer OL15 Purbeck & South Dorset
At roadside just south of phone box in Furzebrook
None on route
WALKING IN SAFETY
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Dorset means rugged varied coastlines and high chalk downlands. Squeezed in among the cliffs and set amid some of Britain’s most beautiful scenery is a chain of picturesque villages and seaside towns. Along the coast you’ll find the Lulworth Ranges, which run from Kimmeridge Bay in the east to Lulworth Cove in the west. Together with a stretch of East Devon, this is Britain’s Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, noted for its layers of shale and numerous fossils embedded in the rock. Among the best-known natural landmarks on this stretch of the Dorset coast is Durdle Door, a rocky arch that has been shaped and sculpted to perfection by the elements. The whole area has the unmistakable stamp of prehistory.
Away from Dorset’s magical coastline lies a landscape with a very different character and atmosphere, but one that is no less appealing. Here, winding, hedge-lined country lanes lead beneath lush, green hilltops to snug, sleepy villages hidden from view and the wider world. The people of Dorset are justifiably proud of the achievements of Thomas Hardy, its most famous son, and much of the county is immortalised in his writing.
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