Work starts to clear former military railway route – now a public footpath

A HISTORIC former military railway route has finally been recognised as a public right of way – and is being cleared for walkers.

The old Cordite Factory railway route, at Holton Heath, was used for many years by the people of Sandford to glimpse the harbour, to fish, to walk and cycle.

In 2003, the route was highlighted by campaigners as a potential key connection between Holton Heath and Hamworthy.

But it was obstructed in 2010, leading to a 13-year effort to have it recognised as a public right of way.

Now, work is finally underway on clearing the Cordite Way footpath between the Holton Heath Trading Estate and Rockley Jetty.

The first volunteer working party, on Sunday, September 3, was led by Dorset Councillor Beryl Ezzard (Lib Dem, Wareham), with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Councillor Andy Hadley (Ind, Poole Town) and others, under the supervision of Dorset Council ranger, Katie Black.

They got to work clearing years of undergrowth from the route of the former military line that connected the Royal Naval Cordite Factory to the pier at Rockley Jetty, opposite Rockley Sands.

The route has now been designated a public right of way

The route has now been designated a public right of way

Cllr Ezzard said: “The Cordite works is part of the heritage of Sandford which we should celebrate, and the track gives locals their only means to glimpse the harbour. This is a great step forward.”

Members of the Friends of the Cordite Way Clearance group hope to complete the first section of the footpath to the viewpoint overlooking Poole Harbour and Arne peninsular by summer 2024.

“There was an Admiralty bridge over the main line, demolished months before the Footpath Appeal was won, which will need to be replaced to reach a second viewpoint on the harbour’s edge opposite Rockley Sands, the group said.

Land on which the route lies is owned by the Lees Estate and leased by Jade-Aden Services, both of whom have supported the scheme.

The path will, with the generous support and help from the landowners, become a permissive path for cycling giving access to green spaces for walkers and cyclists.

Cllr Hadley, chair of the Poole Harbour Trails group, added: “Encouraging sustainable travel and tourism needs good quality routes.

“Reaching our future aims, the Cordite Way avoids busy roads and gives fantastic views onto the upper reaches of the harbour. It will provide a great link between communities.”


  1. Dave Peters Reply

    I have just seen your article about clearing the path for the proposed cycle route at the Cordite Factory, Holton Heath. Can you please give me details as I would like to volunteer. I live in Wareham.
    Many thanks, Dave Peters

  2. Ian Reply

    As a local resident in Holton Heath living next to the old Cordite Factory I think this is an amazing project. Can you please share with me details of how I could get involved.

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