Walks and open spaces

Pathway Plantation
Swans on the Uddens
Riverside Walk in the snow

The population of West Moors in 1961 was around 3000; 20 years later, after some dramatic building developments, which took over many acres of former farmland & heathland areas, the population in the 1981 census had more than doubled to around 6600. It has gone up since of course - latest estimate would suggest a figure of nearly 8000. However, despite the undoubted loss of green space, our community has a surprising amount of pleasant walks & open space to enjoy. This note will describe those areas.


One of many enjoyable walks in and around West Moors is Riverside Walk. One way to access this is to take Farm Road ( opposite the Library ) as far as it goes, merging left into Mannington Way then you will see a gate directly ahead of you.

Entrance to Farm Road parkland

End of Farm Road

As you approach and enter through the gate there is a sign for the walk. Follow the sign. To your left there is a woodland, Pennington Copse, a local nature reserve looked after by Dorset Council Countryside Management Team. There is a diversity of wildlife to be found here from deer to the occasional adder and many bird species. On a clear day you may hear an eerie cry, look skyward and perhaps espy two or more buzzards soaring, or if around dusk, perhaps a Tawny owl will be the culprit!

Another access point ( which brings you into Pennington Copse ) is from roughly half-way down Farm Road, off Birch Grove and yet another, as mentioned elsewhere, is via the footpaths either side of the bridge over the Uddens at the end of Station Road. In 2013, as part of the upgrade to the pathways across the Woolslope recreation area ( see below ), the path alongside the river here was re-laid and made much more accessible - from time-to-time though, the paths need re-surfacing, so take care when using them; they get a lot of hard wear, especially after heavy rain.

This image shows that even in winter, Riverside Walk ( and other similar local pathways ) can be very attractive after a light fall of snow: here [March 2018] the heat retained by the gravel path has melted the snow allowing easy access. Even after a heavier fall of snow, some shelter by the trees can reduce the amount of accumulated snow along the path.

Riverside Walk after snow

Riverside walk after snow

The Castleman Trailway very roughly follows the line of the old Southampton & Dorchester Railway that used to pass through the village. Within the village itself though, the route is greatly displaced from the old railway due to building development. It is a pleasant way to enjoy a short walk, a more strenuous tramp or a long bicycle ride: in damp/wet weather though - wear some stout footwear!

The site linked above to the Dorset Council web site gives some more information and links to appropriate maps.

Castleman Trailway - near Fuel Depot

Castleman Trailway

Plantation entrance off Moorlands Rise

Plantation entrance Moorlands Rise

The 'Plantation', dating from the 1940s, covers an area of approximately 360 acres [ circa 145 hectares ] in one large and two smaller parcels, all lying along the north-eastern 'flank' of the residential area of West Moors. It is owned and maintained by the Forestry Commission - but the largest section is easily accessible to residents of the village.

Historically, this woodland has been dominated by pine and other coniferous species, but it is intended to transform the Plantation by allowing mixed woodland to develop and to increase the open areas slightly, with a return in some places to the original heathland that would have existed prior to the 1940s plantings.

The woods are already well-used by residents for recreational walking, cycling, riding etc., and it is hoped to enhance the facilities in the years to come.



The fields bordering the northern bank of Uddens Water once belonged to the long gone ( 1970s ) Woolslope Farm but are now owned by Dorset Council (but initially by East Dorset District Council - ceased to be in 2019) on behalf of the community.

The intention is to manage the several former fields, copses etc., as a fully-accessible recreation area and to this end, in 2013, a network of well-surfaced, 'all-weather' paths was laid out for all to use. Access the area from Canterbury Close & Woolslope Close ( both off Woolslope Road ), from alongside the bridge over the Uddens on lower Station Road ( on the parish boundary ) and adjacent to the A31 underpass, a little way west of the Priory Road junction.

Pathway on Woolslope Farm community area

Bridge on Woolslope Fm pathway

Woolslope pathway

Woolslope pathway

This image was taken in autumn 2013 once the work had been completed. The vegetation adjoining the paths has quickly grown, enough to 'soften' the edges and this facility has become a very attractive feature that all can use - either for recreation, or as a pleasant way to reach the shopping areas at Tricketts Cross!

The Petwyn: our 'village green' . . . .

The last 'open space' to be described wouldn't take anyone too long to walk along - or round! It is the strip of grassed land between Queen's Close and Pennington Road, running alongside Station Road, that is known as " The Petwyn ". It got its unusual name from a past yeoman farming family living in this part of West Moors in the latter 16th and early 17th century - one of several such who farmed in a small way along the Mannington & Uddens waters - and who, in 'combine' with several other such farmers, bought tracts of rough heathland for low-level agricultural use - principally the supply of fuel through cutting of turf and collecting gorse & furze.

The Petwyn from Station Road

The Petwyn

Central seating area: The Petwyn

Central Seating Area

By the 1990s, much of the lands around The Petwyn had been thoroughly developed ... and there were plans for building on the open space which led to a large public response to prevent its development. Through the efforts of the whole community the land was purchased on behalf of West Moors, and was further safeguarded when it was granted Village Green status in 2006.

It is now administered by the Town Council and hosts the War Memorial at one end, a 'secular' memorial at the other, a collection of seating areas and the village flagpole. Remembrance services and the annual Christmas Fair ( " Carols on the Petwyn " ) also take place.

There is a little more on the background history in a document hosted on this web site.

Armistice Day assembly

Armistice Day assembly

Images of The Petwyn

Memorial seating

Memorial seating area

Memorial stone

Memorial stone on The Petwyn


Flagpole on The Petwyn

That completes this short note regarding our open spaces and walks around West Moors. In addition to those mentioned above, the largest open space within the council bounds is Fryer Field, named after the family that once owned large tracts of land hereabouts. This is is managed by the Town Council on behalf of the community and there is much more about this facility on the 'council' part of this web site.

There is a companion 'Village Trail' [ in two parts ], and a 'Nature Trail' which deals with our local natural world elsewhere on this site; follow the links below as required.


[ Text last checked / updated 22nd February, 2022 ]