During the Iron Age (between 800BC and 100AD) local tribes built defensive forts on the surrounding hilltops like here at Pilsdon.

These tribes strengthened the natural defences of the hills by digging out deep ditches and building up high embanked walls.

Pilsdon Pen has a long history of occupation.

Flint tools over 10,000 years old and two Bronze Age burial mounds confirm that this site was used long before the hillfort was built.

Today Pilsdon Pen, set within Dorset AONB, is owned by the National Trust.

You can explore the hillfort on foot. There is a car park opposite the start of the walk, on B3164.

From there it is a short, steep climb up the hillside until you reach the flat top.

From the top there are magnificent views of the Marshwood Vale, Golden Cap and the sea to the south.

Hardy’s Monument to the east, Exmoor and the Quantocks to the west and Polden and Mendip Hills to the north.

You can also see several other hillforts including Lewesdon Hill, Lambert’s Castle and Coney’s Castle.

Images by Cool Places Britain

Wessex Ridgeway

Pilsdon Pen is on the route of three long distance walking trails: the Wessex Ridgeway, Monarch’s Way and the Jubilee Trail.

The Wessex Ridgeway is approximately 58 miles (93 kilometres) long.

Starting at Tollard Royal on the Dorset/Wiltshire border, the Dorset section of the Wessex Ridgeway meanders across the Chalk downs.

The section Beaminster to Pilsdon Pen takes you on a 5,5-mile linear walk towards Broadwindsor.

Then you will climb Lewesdon Hill and end on top of Pilsdon Pen.

Here you can join the Monarch’s Way.

Monarch’s Way

The Monarch’s Way is a 615-mile (990km) long-distance route.

It roughly follows the escape route taken by King Charles II in 1651 after being defeated in the Battle of Worcester.

It takes in Boscobel (the Royal Oak Tree), Stratford upon Avon, the Cotswolds, Mendips and the South Coast from Charmouth to Shoreham.

There are many historic buildings, features of interest such as Pilsdon Pen and antiquity.

Or join the Jubilee Trail.

Jubilee Trail

This 90-mile (145km) trail winds across the county from Forde Abbey on the Somerset border across Dorset to Bokerley Dyke on the Hampshire border.

It goes through quiet villages, passing rural churches and offers extensive views over the rolling downs and secret valleys.

Cool Places to Explore

West Bay | Forde Abbey House & Gardens | Mapperton House & Gardens | Beaminster | Hive Beach | Colmers Hill | Golden Cap | Hell Lane.

Cool Places to Eat

Hive Beach Café | Brassica | The Three Horseshoes | The Ollerod | Lord Poulett Arms.