Walk - Moonfleet from Sea Barn & West Fleet Farms

6.2 miles (10.0 km)

West Fleet Holiday Farm - DT3 4EA West Fleet Holiday Farm

Moderate - There is a little very gentle ascent and descent, and the route is on footpaths through farmland and around the coast and can be very wet, so appropriate footwear is needed; but overall this is an easy walk, with an optional shortcut.

The rhythmic roar of the sea on the shingle of Chesil Beach and the plaintive cry of the gulls above it lend the perfect atmosphere to this stroll through the pages of the classic tale of 'Moonfleet', a ripping yarn of smugglers, ghosts and diamonds, shipwrecks, brigands and a happy-ever-after. Visit the church where the brandy casks were stored among the coffins in the vault, see the remains of the village which really was decimated in the great storm of 1824, glance into the gardens where John Trenchard's sweetheart watched every day for his return. There is a shortcut for those who want a gentler stroll.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Sea Barn Farm Camping

Sea Barn Farm is probably the most beautiful licensed camping park in Dorset. Its spectacular views of the Fleet Lagoon, Lyme Bay and Jurassic Coast are breath taking. Ad

Portesham Dairy Farm Campsite

Jurassic Coast farm site 15 minutes' drive from Weymouth. Farm shop serving food and pub within 1-2 minutes' stroll. Well-spaced pitches and spotless facilities

Coastal Hideaway

Cosy cottage 0.6 miles from the SWCP. Perfect location for walkers who want to do the Portland loop as a day hike!

Number Five

18 Century pretty cottage, quiet location, private bathroom. Dogs welcome, open all year. Minimum 2 night stay

Patricia's B&B

Walkers welcome at this B&B 5 mins from the SWCP. 2 rooms (double/twin)..

St Johns Guest House

Lynne & Andy welcome you to St John’s Guest house – a well appointed B&B in Weymouth, providing a luxurious experience just 60 yards from the beach and the SW coast path!

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Cherries at Chesil

Coffee and take-away ideally located at beach car park right on the SWCP.

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Fine Foundation Wild Chesil Centre

Visit our family-friendly visitor centre to discover more about the famous Chesil Beach and Fleet Lagoon which are of national and international importance for wildlife.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Walkers from Bagwell Farm Touring Park join here.
  2. Walkers from West Fleet Farm, turn right and follow the drive around the left-hand bend to the crossroads.
  3. Turn left here and walk downhill until you come to the footpath, on your left at the right-hand bend. Walkers from Sea Barn Farm turn left and continue up the drive to Fleet Road. Then turn right.

A short detour down the road to your right will take you to the Church of the Holy Trinity, built in 1826-29 after a huge storm sent waves crashing over the shingle barrier of Chesil Beach and the lagoon beyond, to destroy the old church at East Fleet, and several of the cottages nearby. Relics salvaged from the old church were brought across and can still be seen in the new church.

If you want to take the shorter walk, carry on down Fleet Road past the church, turning right when you come to the cottages on the left-hand bend, and following the footpath to the old church, where you rejoin the full route at 9.

  1. For the longer walk, retrace your steps to the footpath at 4 on the map, crossing the stile into the field on your left. In the field turn right, to walk diagonally to the far left-hand corner. Cross the stream and go over the stile to your right, turning left immediately, to follow the field boundary uphill. Carry on in the same direction, following the waymarkers over the hill and then away down the path to the left, until you come to the road at Chickerell.
  2. Cross the road to pick up the footpath immediately opposite, and follow it down the right-hand boundaries of several fields, ignoring paths away to your left, until you come to the stile in the right-hand corner of the last field.
  3. Crossing the stile, take the right-hand path along the bottom of the hill, and walk along the hedge until you come to the open field beyond. Here bear left when you come to the gorse bank, but keeping it on your left, and continue towards the cottage, where you will come out on a road.
  4. Crossing the road, go down the track to join the Coast Path at the far end.
  5. Turn right here and walk along the Coast Path until you come to the cluster of cottages and the old church at East Fleet.

Once again take a short detour to the right, this time to the old church. The entrance to the churchyard is at the top of this path, immediately before the first house.

In J. Meade Faulkner's 'Moonfleet', set in the eighteenth century, 15-year-old orphan John Trenchard is living here with his maiden aunt. He gets caught up in a search for a precious diamond, and in the process stumbles upon the casks and kegs of contraband which smugglers have hidden in the vaults of the old church. Hiding from them, he discovers the coffin of Blackbeard Mohune, and in it a locket containing a parchment with verses from the Bible written on it.

John finds himself trapped in the vault, and it is two days before kind-hearted smuggler Elzevir Block from the 'Why Not?' Inn finds him and takes him back to live at the pub when his aunt disowns him. When the local magistrate tries to seize the pub and put a stop to the smuggling, John stops Elzevir from killing him in revenge for the death of his only son, only for the soldiers arriving moments later to do so accidentally themselves.

They also injure John, and Elzevir carries him up a steep cliff to a sea cave, where they hide out for three months while Elzevir nurses him back to health. (The cliffs and the caves are over on the Isle of Purbeck, for those who care to go and look).

Their adventures then lead them away to Carisbrooke Castle, where they find the diamond, and then to Holland, where they try to sell it, finding themselves in worse trouble than ever as a result. It is ten years before John returns to Moonfleet, fortuitously being shipwrecked on Chesil Beach while on his way to a prison in Java. Elzevir is drowned while saving John's life, but John is reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Grace (who has looked out for him every day from the garden of Moonfleet Manor), inherits the wicked but repentant Dutch diamond merchant's estate, and ends his days as JP of Moonfleet.

  1. Retracing your steps to the Coast Path, turn right and continue around the Fleet Lagoon.

Please take note of the request along here to stay on the path and keep dogs on a short lead, for your own safety as well as that of others. The sand tracks around the fields here are used for training horses, and half a ton of galloping horse should be treated with the same caution as a moving car.

The white building ahead is Moonfleet Manor, formerly the seat of the Mohune family but now a hotel.

  1. When you come to the footpath signed Fleet Road, leading to the right just before Moonfleet Manor, turn onto it and follow the waymarkers through the fields to the road beyond.
  2. Turn right on the road and follow it up to West Fleet Farm.

Public transport

The X53 bus runs regularly from Weymouth to Exmouth, stopping at the Victoria Inn, above the start of the walk. For details visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.


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