Circling the unlikely by-product of an industrial process.
Distance 3.5 miles (5.7km)
Minimum time 1hr 30min
Ascent/gradient 165ft (50m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Country lanes, heath and woodland tracks (may be boggy)
Landscape Heath, woodland, rolling country
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL 15 Purbeck & South Dorset
Start/finish SY 931837
Dog friendliness Some roadwalking
Parking At roadside just south of phone box in Furzebrook
Public toilets None on route, unless visiting Blue Pool
1 Walk south on the main road through the village, passing the drive to Furzebrook House on the left. Furzebrook is an unremarkable estate village of Victorian houses and its roads are stained white by the lorries from the claypits. Furzebrook House is once more a private house. Commandeered during the Second World War, it was in such poor shape by the end of it that the Barnards refused to take it back - it became, instead, a government research establishment, which it remained for many years. At the end of the park wall turn left down a straight drive, signed to the Blue Pool. Descend gently, to pass a parking area on the left and then the entrance to the Blue Pool on the right.
2 Continue straight ahead, up the track into the woods, and soon emerge at the edge of an area of heath, dotted with Scots pines. Stay on the main track (ignore a path to the left), go through a kissing gate and follow the yellow marker on to the heath. Shortly after this, look for a post on your left, indicating that the footpath leaves the vehicular track. Bear left on the peaty path through gorse and heather, following green Purbeck Heritage markers. Go through another kissing gate. Turn right up the track at the marker stone, signed 'East Creech'.
3 Continue past a forest of drunken birch trees on your left, then through pretty woodland dripping with moss and lichen. Cross a sleeper bridge over a marsh, where the water is stained orange by iron ore. Pass through some pines, with a pool on the left, and continue along the boundary fence - you'll hear a waterfall off to the left.
4 At a junction of paths (with bridges to your left) go straight on, following the blue marker, again signposted 'East Creech'. Pass a reedy pool on the left. Keep straight ahead on the broad track (part of the Purbeck Way) that leads up through the woods. Pass a larger pool up on the right - it looks the sort of place where Henry Thoreau would have built his cabin. The soil underfoot is black and springy with peat. Look for the old holly trees with ferns growing all over them.
At the road turn left and walk down to a junction. Turn right here and walk up the road into East Creech village. This is an attractive corner of farmland and little hills. Pass Creech Farm with its duck pond, and a pretty pair of cottages: Wild Rose and Rockley. Keep right past the post box and walk along the valley, with distant views to Poole and Bournemouth.
5 Pass some woods on the left and the high point of Creech Barrow Hill, also to your left. The road rises steadily to pass a big thatched house, again on the left. As the road starts to descend there are magnificent views inland over the Isle of Purbeck, with Wareham ahead. Turn right along a lane just before a farm and soon cross a stile to the right (before the farm gate).
6 Turn left then bear right, down the field to the corner. Cross over the stile and bear diagonally left down the hill, following yellow markers across the heath, through trees and gorse. Go through an area of beeches, with bracken below. Pass between a shed and a garden fence, then pass a house on the right and walk straight ahead to meet the road.
7 Turn left and retrace your steps through Furzebrook to the start.
The Blue Pool is a real beauty spot on the Furzebrook Estate. It was first opened to the public by T T Barnard in 1935 and is owned by his daughter today. Gloriously set amid trees, the pool itself is an old clay pit filled with rainwater. Minute clay particles, that are suspended in the water, refract the sunlight, giving the pool its extraordinary, deep turquoise colour. The body of water refracts colours differently according to light and temperature conditions and is seen at its most vivid blue on a cold, grey day, when the clay particles rise more towards the surface of the lake. At other times it may appear emerald green. There are lots of woodland paths to explore, as well as an adventure playground for children. You can enjoy the beautiful setting on this walk, whether or not the pool itself is open (March to November).
On the western edge of the village of Church Knowle is a different sort of retirement centre - it's the extensive Margaret Green Foundation Trust Animal Sanctuary, where domestic, farm and wild animals come to retire, or to find a new home. There's even an aviary for lost, injured or oiled birds. Admission is by donation and there's a gift shop to help support the sanctuary's work.
Clay was dug here in the 17th century for use in the manufacture of clay pipes and later as a component of china manufacturing in the potteries of Staffordshire, most notably at Wedgwood. This story is told in the little museum by the Blue Pool and occasionally a pipe-maker is on hand to demonstrate.
The Tea House has operated since the Blue Pool first opened. In summer you can enjoy home-baked scones and tea out on the terrace, as well as morning coffee and light lunches. Ice creams and cold drinks are also available. For a pub break or in winter, try the venerable New Inn at nearby Church Knowle. The restaurant specialises in fish and there's a beer garden at the rear.