Walk - Legacy Trail 1 - Around Lorton Meadows
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2018. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
Go for a wildlife wander around Lorton Meadows nature reserve – and take a step back in time with old fashioned hay meadows, lightly grazed pasture, mature hedgerows, small copses, dew ponds and seasonal streams.
The patchwork habitats of Lorton Meadows, the Woodland Trust’s ancient woodland Two Mile Coppice, the RSPB’s wetland reserve at Lodmoor and Lodmoor Country Park all combine to form the Lorton Valley Nature Park – a green oasis within Weymouth, dedicated to wildlife and people. There are a number of paths linking the sites, for an introduction to Lodmoor try the circular walk 2 in this series.
- From the entrance to Lorton Meadows, the start of the Legacy Trail, follow the Trail as it leads east along the top of Littlemoor Meadow.
Take in the fantastic views across Lorton Valley Nature Park and Weymouth Bay to Portland.
As the path splits, take the track to the right towards a narrow woodland on the slope – Horse Lynch Plantation.
In summer look out for meadow brown butterflies flittering in the long grass and green woodpeckers swooping over the meadow.
Go through the gateway, leave the Legacy Trail, turn right and walk down the edge of Horse Lynch Meadow, by the hedge.
Before you leave look at the windswept shapes of the trees and listen for woodpeckers tapping the trunks.
- When you reach the next gate, go through and walk diagonally across Rodway Mead to the gate in the opposite hedgerow.
Look for birds of prey overhead. You might see resident buzzards, kestrels, the occasional sparrowhawk or peregrine and possibly a marsh harrier from the adjacent Lodmoor reserve.
Go through the gate into Cowleaze following the path across the field to the gate on the opposite hedge.
In summer listen out for grasshoppers and crickets, attracting a mate or defending their territories.
Go through the gate into Old White Roughit, turn left and walk towards the corner of the meadow and Two Mile Coppice.
In autumn look out for purple sloes on blackthorn, red haws on hawthorn and maybe hazelnuts or acorns – if the squirrels haven’t beaten you to it!
- Go through the gate and follow the track a short way to another gate on your right.
As you go through it, listen to the woods – whatever time of year you’ll hear something, birds calling, trees creaking or leaves rustling.
Once you’re in White Roughit, follow the path alongside Two Mile Coppice.
In summer look out for marbled white butterflies near the bright pink/purple common knapweed flowers.
Cross the boardwalk into Eighteen Acres Mead, follow the grassy path diagonally across the field.
In spring you’ll see yellow cowslips in the meadow. Try and spot the kestrel and tawny owl nest-boxes in oak trees on the edge of the Withy Woods. Go through the gateway onto the track leading to the Conservation Centre.
If it’s open pop in for a tea/coffee or have a well earned rest in Poplar Barn or the picnic area (opposite the Centre) or perhaps stop for a while by the pond to see dragonflies.
- Walk through the Picnic Area to the gate on the further hedge and turn left, walk up the track and go through the gate to your right. Walk through Sheep Plot diagonally (avoiding the lightning damaged ash tree), cross the stile, bridge and stile into West Bottom.
Notice changes to the geology, with wet areas, full of rush and drier sandier soils indicated by gorse – smell the coconut scented flowers or listen to the seed pods exploding.
Walk across the field, towards the lower corner of Coffin Plantation, go through the gate and walk along until you reach a bench.
A great place to admire views of the reserve.
Climb over the stile, go up the steps (take care if conditions are wet), at the top, turn right and follow the path until it forks.
Look out for woodpecker holes in the trees and Stinking Iris (the leaves smell interesting!)
- Take the path to the left (uphill) and follow it until you reach the Look Out and a WW2 bunker and shed, relics of a decoy operation - ‘Starfish’.
Walk a little further along the path and you’re back to the start.
Refreshments at the centre.