Local folklore has it that the Cerne Abbas Giant was created in 1539 to symbolise a lustful abbot. If this remains a matter of conjecture, there is no doubting the beauty of this Dorset walk, one of splendid ridge views, country houses and, as its finale, the extraordinary chalk-carved giant himself.
Start at the New Inn in Cerne Abbas and walk up the lane towards the 15th century church, where you turn right into the graveyard. A detour to St Augustine’s Well is worthwhile before leaving the cemetery. Cross a field to Giant Hill and take the path beneath the giant. As you ascend Little Minterne Ridge there are fine views of the exquisite Dorset countryside.
At the top of the hill, cross a stile and follow the path north-east until you reach a road. Turn left and continue for half a mile until you find a bridleway just after a group of trees. The bridleway leads to a broad track; turn left here and keep going for a mile. Take a left onto a signed footpath, and go downhill over a field. There is then a sharp left as the walk heads south back to Cerne Abbas.
With the River Cerne to the right, the path traverses pastureland before reaching the village of Minterne Magna. Here another profitable detour, to Minterne House and its gardens, can be made. The walk continues with a short hike on the A352 before, after the last cottage in Minterne Magna, turning right up a tree-lined path. Bear left after a short distance and climb for a mile before finding a lane. A short, umbrageous descent leads to a pond; turn left and walk along another lane to the hamlet of Up Cerne. Turn right at a junction, continue along the lane to a second junction and take a left to return to Cerne Abbas. Soon the giant is revealed in all his tumescent splendour, his outsize phallus giving an added spice to a thirst-quenching ale in the New Inn.
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Glorious hilltop views – and a famous giant
OS ref: ST667012
Length of walk
The New Inn, Cerne Abbas,