Art along the Wessex Ridgeway
Sculptures to see along the Wessex Ridgeway
Local poet James Crowden has walked the Wessex Ridgeway and reflects some of its history, geography and natural history in his poems. Poignant verse from these poems has been integrated into 10 specially commissioned sculptures and installations by local artists.
The sculptures can be seen at Ashmore, Ringmoor, Melcombe Horsey, Minterne Parva, Maiden Newton, Kingcombe Centre, Beaminster, Pilsdon Pen and Lyme Regis. In addition, dotted along the trail is a series of log boxes containing poems written by schoolchildren and participants of writing workshops led by James Crowden.
A soundscape by David Rogers featuring sounds recorded along the Dorset section of the Wessex Ridgeway is available as a CD ROM within the Creative Footsteps guide. .
The Creative Footsteps guide featuring information on the commissioned sculptures, photographs by Catherine Batten and poems by James Crowden is available from Artsreach.
Beside the pond in the centre of this picturesque village is the first of the Creative Footsteps-commissioned pieces. This beautiful stone bench has been designed and carved by Rachel Jackson and provides a welcome rest spot.
This small hamlet, nestled by the River Hooke, is home to the Kingcombe Centre. This famous nature reserve was created in 1987 to preserve the unimproved grassland that is rich in wildlife and the unaltered old-fashioned field systems. There are a variety of picturesque and fascinating walks around this 400-acre reserve. Within the gardens beside the pond is a 'cast' fawn, a young deer created by Jonathan Fry.
On the ridge westwards of Beaminster is Pucketts Wood, which is owned and managed by the Woodland Trust. In the wood beside the trail is a curious sculpture, created by Caroline Sharp, which reflects Beaminster's prosperous past in the manufacture of cloth, rope and twine made from flax and hemp. The sculpture of a woven spiral encircles an oak marker post and incorporates a rope that reflects the local practice of picking oakum. This involved untwisting old ropes (oakum) that would then be used for caulking the seams or the spaces between the planks of a ship. This was common employment for prisons and workhouses. The Beaminster Union Workhouse was situated nearby at Stoke Water.
Turnworth / Ringmoor
Between Okeford Hill Picnic Site and Woolland Hill you pass Ringmoor. This small Romano-British settlement is owned by the National Trust and can be accessed by a small gate from the trail. Through the gate is a lovely old dew pond that was once used as a watering hole for animals using this drover's track. Situated by the pond are four oak posts designed and carved by Andrew Whittle.
Following the track from Giants Head to Minterne Parva is a small round building believed locally to be an 18th century cockfighting ring. A little further along the road are the remains of a water mill and a sheepwash. Look out for a series of slate posts created by Rachel Jackson. Carved on them are the local field names found on an old map from 1728, courtesy of Lord and Lady Digby