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More about Duncliffe Wood

Duncliffe Wood is a beautiful ancient wood and one of the largest in North Dorset. The highest point of the site is an incredible 210m above sea level and it can be seen from miles around.

A designated Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI), the wood has a rich mix of woodland species including a scattering of small-leaved lime coppice stools which are reported to be the oldest living things in Dorset.

Once an oak, ash and hazel woodland, the site had been traditionally coppiced but was clear-felled and replanted in the fifties and sixties with a mix of Norway spruce, oak, larch and beech. The wide range of notable plant species includes moschatel, yellow archangel, wood speedwell, early-purple orchid, and a profusion of bluebell in the spring.

The wood is a reservoir of wildlife with a rich butterfly mix including silver-washed fritillary and white admiral. Other wildlife includes various species of bat and birds such as tawny owl, buzzard, woodpecker and treecreeper.

There are fine views to be had from the summit of Duncliffe Hill, looking south to the Dorset Downs and Bulbarrow Hill and north to Gillingham, and beyond to Alfred's Tower at Stourhead in Wiltshire.

There is plenty to see and enjoy at Duncliffe Wood, making this a lovely woodland destination for all the family.


Duncliffe Wood is a large (92.16 ha) woodland which stretches over the double summits of Duncliffe Hill like a saddle as they rise out of Blackmoor Vale. Lying 4.8km (three miles) west of Shaftesbury, its prominent setting ensures it can be seen for miles around. The surrounding landscape is characterised by sweeping valleys and rounded hills with a dominance of woodland on the scarp faces. 

Maps: OS Explorer 129 and Landranger 183

Access and walks

The main visitor access into the wood is via a track from New Lane into the western side of the wood. This access point can be extremely popular, especially at weekends. There is a small car park just off New Lane, accessed via the start of the track that leads to Duncliffe’s western edge. There are kissing gates on the main track and leading from the car park onto the main track. Other access points are along public rights of way from the south, north and east
These access points (permissive and public rights of way) link with several permissive paths and rights of way which run throughout the Wood. The main track which runs east to west, bisecting the wood, is an old Forestry Commission track which is topped with stone and is fairly steep near the entrance gate on the western side but is the driest route. Other tracks leading from this are grass and are steep in places with numerous wet patches that can be extremely muddy in wet weather.

The long distance path, The Hardy Way, runs through the wood. Information boards installed at the three main entrances also highlight three walking routes.

Walking/cycle routes can be downloaded from GPS cycling and walking routes and Get Outside.


By bus
• Damory Coaches run the 309 service that includes stops at Stour Provost and East Stour

• Shaftesbury & District buses run limited bus services:
   No. 36 that includes stops at East Stour, Stour Provost and Stour Row
   No. 40 that includes stops at East Stour and Stour Provost

• South West Coaches run service 42 which stops at East Stour and Stour Row

From East Stour and Stour Row there are various public footpaths and minor roads leading to the main entrance on the west side of the wood.

Please check bus times and services with traveline as they are subject to change.

By train
Nearest railway station: Gillingham 6.4km (4 miles) from the site.

For further information on public transport, contact Traveline on 0871 200 2233 or visit traveline.

By car
From Salisbury, take the A30, heading west. After passing through Shaftsbury, turn left opposite the Kings Arms, onto New Lane, following the signs for Stour Row. The entrance to the woodland is on the left after New Gate Farm.

There is parking available for approximately 25 cars in a small car park just off New Lane, at the start of the track which leads up to the western side of the wood.

Nearest amenities

Public toilets
Shaftesbury Bell St carpark is 6.4km (four miles) away and has disabled facilities.

A wide range of pubs, restaurants and cafes can be found in Shaftesbury. Visit TripAdvisor or Britain's Finest for details.

Accommodation and tourist information
For accommodation, visit, or TripAdvisor for suggestions; or visit the Visit Dorset website.

Entry into our woods is free but please donate now to help us care for them.