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Route Phase 1 Phase 2 Clearance Artefacts

Cordite Way

On this page we tell you about the Cordite Way and how the project to open the route is progressing.

The Cordite Way is the designated Right of Way (RoW) footpath from Holton Heath Trading Estate to the former Rockley Jetty, opposite Rockley Sands near the entrance to Lytchett Bay. It will be a crucial part of our hoped for Walk 5. The landowners are soon expected to confirm that permissive rights for cyclists will be conferred.

The Cordite Way derives its name from the Royal Naval Cordite Factory (RNCF) and the Admiralty line which originally linked it to Rockley Jetty for transfer of Cordite by sea to Gosport. The RNCF manufactured cordite, which was the propellant used in Naval shells from 1916 to 1956. The cordite traffic was transferred to the mainline in 1938 due to possible enemy action on shipping. The Admiralty line was used for disposal of ash from the RNCF boilers until the 1950s, the line becoming redundant about 1959.

Route Description

Walk 5

The Cordite Way route is planned to include the roads and paths from the Trading Estate west to Sandford past Holton Heath station, then to the A351 either via road for cyclists or via footpath for walkers.

The designated footpath begins at the roundabout at the north east end of Holton Road and heads through the industrial estate entrance gates and down the pavement towards the Jade-Aden building on the right. The footpath continues to the left of the Jade-Aden building as a countryside and woodland path that, subject to funding, aims to provide access for all. Seating along the footpath will also be provided for pausing and enjoying the harbour views at two viewpoints. An illustrative sign with QR code will be positioned near the path start. A heritage sign will be sited further along the path and a landscape sign at the far viewpoint.

Enjoy the route, but please respect the countryside code. No fires or BBQs are permitted. Please take all your litter, including dog litter and cigarette ends, home. No amenities are provided on this short path.

A leaflet describing the Cordite Way will be published on this website in due course.

Route Development

The Cordite Way is intended to closely follow the ex-Admiralty trackbed where possible. Unfortunately, after 60 years, the intended route was in a sadly neglected state, most parts being overgrown with brambles, nettles and a few trees. The first part of the trackbed was also obstructed by building rubble from the demolition of the nearby former pyrites store. In addition, the ditch alongside this first part was overgrown and silted, turning the first 200m into a swamp. To make matters worse, just before the order for the footpath was made, the bridge over the mainline enabling access to Rockley Jetty was demolished, dividing the footpath into two roughly equal half-mile sections.

The project to develop the Cordite Way is being undertaken in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Trading Estate to missing bridge (Viewpoint)
  • Phase 2: Missing bridge to Rockley Jetty
  • Phase 3: Extension to Hamworthy⁄Turlin Moor
  • Three subgroups are working on the project, covering Clearance, Flora and Fauna Studies and Publicity.

    Phase 1 - Trading Estate to Viewpoint

    Cordite Way

    Work began in September 2023 to identify a potential route, with weekly volunteer working parties to clear the first section of path to the missing bridge viewpoint. The work is being supervised by the Dorset Council Senior Ranger and managed by leaders from the Poole Harbour Trails Community Group, a not-for-profit organisation promoting Rights of Way.

    Fortuitously, old RNCF maps identified next to the trackbed a cinder path, formerly used by security guards, running parallel to the trackbed for the 200m of route starting adjacent to the current Jade-Aden private car park. Whilst initially overgrown and covered in boggy mulch, this has now been cleared to reveal a firm base underneath, but still requires further infill and top dressing. Otherwise, much of the countryside path is on or adjacent to the former trackbed, running through a woodland area followed by an open area. On the way, you will see the amount of mulch removed as you walk the route.

    The route is scenic providing views of the harbour. There is now a continuous path from the car park to the two agreed viewpoints. The path is walkable and improving week by week as it is gradually cleared by volunteers from the Friends of the Cordite Way Clearance Subgroup. The drains that kept the original railway dry still require further work, but clearing them out has worked wonders.

    Water continues to flow across various areas of the former muddy section from ponds and ditches on the original trackbed, but future work should address most of this. Currently, wellies may be preferred to walk that part. Please be aware of trip hazards, including tree roots and stumps, dips and metal spikes, exercising extreme care while path construction is underway.

    To 24th March 2024, time spent clearing the Phase 1 section totals 546 hours by the Clearance Subgroup and over 70 hours by the DC Ranger.

    Photos showing some of the route, path, clearance work and artefacts to be seen are on the Cordite Way Photo Gallery page. They are accessed via the five buttons near the top of this page and as described under the Further Information section below.

    Note that the Cordite Way is on private land. Motor cyclists are prohibited. Anyone seeing motor cyclists on this land should take photos ensuring that riders and vehicles, including their transport vehicles can be identified. Photos of such trespassers should be sent to Poole Harbour Trails who will inform the landowners of date and time for any follow up action. CCTV cameras are in operation on this private land. (See our Contacts webpage for contact details.)

    Phase 2 - Viewpoint to Rockley Jetty

    This section gives the best scenic views of Poole harbour. Discussions are already underway regarding how to restore the missing bridge over the mainline railway that now divides the path into two sections.

    Fund raising will be required to replace the missing bridge. Meanwhile, a boat will be needed to access this final section, which will also be constructed to cater for cyclists. The wooden jetty at the end of the route was demolished in 1982. No clearance work has been started on this section.

    Phase 3 - Extension to Hamworthy⁄Turlin Moor

    The Cordite Way will hopefully be extended in future across the entrance to Lytchett Bay to Hamworthy⁄Turlin Moor. A feasibility and consultation process will be required to assess options for the route.

    The extended Cordite Way would form part of a strategic RoW network linking communities such as Wareham and the Isle of Purbeck to Poole and Bournemouth in the east and Broadstone, Wimborne and Blandford in the north. Crucial onward links will be the Castleman Trailway Extension to Hamworthy station and the North Dorset Trailway to Broadstone. The former possibility is already mentioned in BCP Council’s RoW Improvement Plan. These links would, for example, provide access to green spaces, nature reserves, country parks and industrial estates.

    Further Information

    More information on the Cordite Way is in our latest press release. See what the the BBC said about our clearing activities.

    Photos of the Route, Phase 1 Path, Phase 2 Path, Clearance work and Artefacts to be seen are available on the Cordite Way Photo Gallery pages accessed from the five buttons near the top of this page. Return to this page by pressing the CORDITE WAY Logo near the top of the Photo page.

    Directions & Parking

    If joining the route by bus, use service 40 to Sandford Holiday Park. Turn left at the traffic lights on the A351 and right at the roundabout into Blackhill Road. Turn left on to Holton Road. At the roundabout, turn right. The designated footpath starts through the industrial gates marked ’Private Road’.

    If joining by train, Holton Heath station is on the Cordite Way, noting there is a footbridge that needs to be crossed from the Poole direction. Head north east, initially parallel to the railway in the Hamworthy direction, through the industrial estate to join Holton Road. The footpath starts at the far end roundabout.

    If cycling, head down Blackhill Road from the A351.

    If joining by car, park in Blackhill Road or Holton Road. The road leading from the industrial gates at the start of the footpath is a private road for the sole use of the Units within this part of the Trading Estate Complex and must remain clear for security and safety reasons. Please do not park near or opposite road junctions or site entrances as HGVs that require a wide turning circle may enter or leave at any time of the week. Note: the whole area from the A351 is a busy industrial estate.

    This page updated on 29th March 2024.