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Priors Copse



Dorset Map

Last Visited: 2009

Interestingly varied walk (with one or two surprises) through two old forestry plantations, Horton Wood and Priors Copse, now both part of the Forestry Commissionʼs Queenʼs Copse plantation.

Park in the triangular gravel pull-in on the edge of Wigbeth by the Forestry Commission 'Queens Copse' sign. Strictly speaking Queens Copse is the area of woodland immediately to the south of our walk, but the Commission use the term to cover the whole of this area.

View in Google Earth

A few hundred metres into Horton Wood the land on either side of the gravel path quickly drops away and you find yourself on the top of an embankment. You could almost believe you were on an old railway line, if it were not the fact that trains never came this part of the world.

On you right, through the trees, you will be able to see the bottom end of Wigbeth Lake. The OS map of 1901 shows the plantation and the embankment, but not the lake, which must presumably have formed at least partly as a result of the building of the embankment.

Horton Tower from Prior's Copse

Horton Tower from Prior's Copse

However, it has clearly been extended and enhanced over the years, and is now being further developed as a fishing lake. It now looks like something the Capability Brown wouldnʼt disown. All it needs is the big house and the landscaped garden to go with it.

At the far end of the walk, you can see Horton Tower. The tower is currently used as a mobile phone mast, with most of the transmitter equipment buried in a rather sinister looking air-conditioned bunker just off the path. Other than the views, there is not much else to be seen up there.

On the way back we pass through a delightful old meadow full of colourful grasses and buttercups in the late spring, and then come across some old, rather stagnant, ponds that could well have been marl-pits