• Cranborne Chase & Chalke Valley Landscape Partnership, Shears Building, Stone Lane Industrial Estate, Wimborne, BH21 1HD  Tel: 01725 517417
Mar 13, 2018

Discover Shire Rack in June

A boundary walk that will bring to life historic intrigue and hidden gems


Shire Walk THE County Boundary Research Group will lead two fascinating fact-finding walks along Shire Rack, the Dorset/Wiltshire border path, on Wednesday 6 June.

The two walks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon of approximately three hours each, will take place between Garston Wood and Shermel Gate, along the footpath which follows the boundary.

Learn about legends, historical intrigue and the hidden gems of the area.

Facts relating to the history of the boundary pointed out during this memorable day will include its ‘registration’ in Anglo-Saxon charters. These provide a list of boundary features found along its course in AD955-6 and the walks will follow in the footsteps of those 10th century land surveyors.

Centuries of management will also be looked at, including large veteran tree stools, rows of coppiced hazels and, where the Bowerchalke road crosses the boundary on the edge of Garston Wood, a huge Whitebeam, which may have been planted as a marker tree. Here you can find elements of a former funnel-shaped entrance relating to the driving of livestock over the border. A similar feature can be found at Shermel Gate.

The word shermel betrays the existence of a one-time tall wayside border cross, a shire mael — the signposts of an earlier world. Depending on which walk you attend, you may also be able to explore the overgrown micel burh ‘big fort’ or today’s Mistleberry Camp, which is understood to be an unfinished hill fort.

To register your interest, email: rogergoulding@cranbornechase.org.uk. Don’t delay — places are strictly limited to 20 on each walk and will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

The terrain is slightly undulating and unsuitable for wheelchairs. Sturdy footwear is recommended. Please bring your own refreshments – a packed lunch for the first walk and something for afternoon tea for the second. A free minibus will be provided. Park at the far end of the Sixpenny Handley Village Hall carpark where a bus will meet you and also drop you off at the end of the walk. Further timing details will be emailed to those who have signed up.