Stonehill Down © James Hitchen

Stonehill Down © James Hitchen

Stonehill Down © James Hitchen

Stonehill Down © James Hitchen

Stonehill Down © Neil Gibson
High on the chalk ridge in the Isle of Purbeck, this downland reserve has far-reaching views across to Poole Harbour.

Location

Church Knowle
Wareham
Dorset
BH20 5AP

OS Map Reference

SY9221282127
A static map of Stonehill Down

Know before you go

Size
28 hectares

Entry fee

N/A

Parking information

Limited roadside parking

Bicycle parking

No

Grazing animals

Cattle grazing for most of spring/ summer.

Walking trails

Grassland is Open Access. Make a loop of the site or link in to public rights of way along the Purbeck ridge.

Access

Main entrance field gate to rough track at top of reserve. Very short grazed grassland along top of ridgeway provides some level ground/ easy walking but elsewhere steep slopes. Access by stile to woodland and lower lying part of down.

UNDER THE COUNTRYSIDE AND RIGHTS OF WAY ACT 2000 (CROW), DOGS SHOULD BE KEPT ON SHORT LEADS ON THIS SITE (OPEN ACCESS LAND) FROM 1ST MARCH TO 31ST JULY TO PROTECT GROUND NESTING BIRDS.

Head through the entrance gate and bear left to follow along the top of the down or follow straight on and down into the valley. There are no formal paths but several desire lines through the woodland and across the down with further access points at the bottom of the valley and along Ridgeway Hill. Generally fairly even under foot but steep slopes into and out of the valley.

Cattle graze the site at times and there may be ticks on site. Be mindful of the risk of falling branches in the woodland in or after strong winds. The quarry area to the east of the site is a no access area with dangerous loose rocks and very steep slopes. For more information on these general countryside hazards and other aspects of visiting our nature reserves please see our visitor information page.

Dogs

On a lead
Please remove all dog mess from site.

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

Spring & Summer

About the reserve

This stunning downland nature reserve is high on the chalk ridge running west/east across the Isle of Purbeck and has far-reaching views across the Wareham Forest, with Poole Harbour to the east.  On a clear day the views go on for miles.  

The short, chalk downland here is home to a profusion of flowers including horseshoe vetch, chalk milkwort, common rock-rose, carline thistle and hairy violet. Common spotted, early purple & bee orchids speckle the down in early summer while autumn ladies tresses and autumn gentian can be found from late August.

Lulworth skipper & Adonis blue butterflies are occasionally seen, with more regular sightings of brown argus, dingy skipper and small heath. The open, dry grassland also supports a number of rare and notable insects including the two coloured mason bee and the limestone snipefly.

Not to be outdone, the woodland also offers a show of primroses & ramsons early in the year below a mixed canopy of ash, field maple, birch and hazel with some large oak. The woodland and scrubby areas of the open down provide habitat for birds such as bullfinch, song thrush, common whitethroat, stonechat, meadow pipit and wheatear.

Useful Information

Heading south from Wareham, turn off the A351 for Springfield Country Hotel & continue straight along this road. Take the second left signposted to East Creech and follow to the top of the hill. Access is at the top of the hill opposite Creech Barrow. 

Contact us

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Stonehill Down Nature Reserve Map

Stonehill Down Nature Reserve Map