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The Castleman Trailway

The Trailway starts at Upton Country Park in Poole and follows much of the old Castleman Corkscrew railway line through Broadstone and on to the River Stour at Wimborne. The Castleman Trailway is 16 miles long, and after leaving Poole it continues to beyond Ringwood. The Trailway can take you on foot, bike or horse through some of South East Dorset's most attractive countryside. When all the links are in place you will be able to travel from Poole to the edge of the New Forest without needing a car, and for the most part you need not even see one.

Walkers are able to follow the entire route but cyclists and horse riders are restricted on some sections:

  • Currently cyclists have to find their own route through Wimborne (i.e. between Canford bottom roundabout and the Willet Arms)
  • Horse riders are restricted to: Ringwood to West Moors section and Ameysford to Stapehill Section

The terrain is relatively level throughout apart from when coming off and on the old railway line. 

The route is marked by waymarkers, please keep to the indicated path and follow the Country Code.

The Route

You can download the full map and text in PDF format by clicking here. Alternatively, cut and paste the taster text below to help you along the trail.

Castleman Trailway (16 miles, 26 kms)

The Trailway follows the old railway line as closely as possible, but in some places the line is inaccessible. Alternative routes have been found, please follow the waymarkers, even when they are leading you away from the old railway line.

Upton Country Park to Merley (4 miles, 6.5kms)

From Upton Country Park, leave the park by the main gate and cross the slip road. Go through the gate opposite and follow the cattle track under four roads. Then follow the Roman road north to the railway bridge. Turn right up the slope onto the line and follow it, through Broadstone, to the Willet Arms in Merley.

Merley to Stapehill (2.4 miles, 4kms)

Walk north down Poole Road towards Wimborne, turn right just before the river bridge through the large wrought iron gates of Canford School and follow the footpath under a "Gothic" railway bridge (a short diversion here takes you along part of the old railway to a viewpoint overlooking the Stour where the line once crossed the river), pass under a road bridge, shortly afterwards turn left and cross the Stour using the suspension bridge. Then follow the footpath to your right to Ham Lane. Turn right, then turn left up Fox Lane to Wimborne Road West.

Stapehill to Dolman's Cross (3.3 miles, 5.3kms)

Turn down Wimborne Road West and then turn left up Uddens Drive. Turn left again onto forestry tracks which will take you over the Ferndown By Pass and eastwards, through Uddens Plantation, to Dolman's Crossing. This section is open by kind permission of the Forestry Commission.

Dolmans Cross to West Moors (1 mile, 1.6 kms)

The route from Dolmans Crossing to West Moors may well change during the lifetime. Please follow the waymakers on footpaths and roads.

West Moors to Ashley Twinning (4.5 miles, 7.2kms)

Follow the waymarkers through West Moors to Arnold Close, where you re-enter the trailway (this section open by kind permission of the Ministry of Defence). From West Moors Plantation the route follows the disused railway to Ashley Cottages on the Ringwood Road.

Castleman and the Railway

Early in 1844 the "Southampton and Dorchester Railway Company" was formed to build a line between these two towns. The route finally chosen snaked across the New Forest to Ringwood, then via Wimborne to Hamworthy (the junction for Poole) before heading west to Dorchester. Because of the twists and turns the line was nicknamed the "Castleman's Corkscrew" after Charles Castleman, the Wimborne solicitor who was chiefly responsible for the building of the line. The railway was opened to the public on the 1st June 1847, with festivities in many places along the route.

The Southampton and Dorchester Railway Company lost its independence in July 1848 when it was taken over by the London and South Western Railway.

In 1888 a new main line was opened from Brockenhurst through Bournemouth to Poole. The stretch of line between Brockenhurst and Hamworthy was downgraded to a branch line, but was still well used and remained profitable until after the Second World War, when increasing competition from road traffic led to a fall in passenger numbers.

In the years following 1964, as parf of Dr. Richard Beeching's plan to make the railway system viable, the branch line between Brockenhurst and Hamworthy was closed to passenger traffic and the process of demolition started.

For more information the Castleman Trailway visit the Dorset For You link will open in new window website

Castleman Trailway
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