Pilsdon Pen

Moon rise over Pillsdon Pen

Pilsdon Pen is one of a number of impressive iron aged hill forts in west Dorset and can easily be accessed from the B3164.

  • Location: Latitude: 50.804796N Longitude: 2.83311W
  • Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 116 (ISBN 0-319-23536-X) Scale: 1:25 000
  • Grid Reference: SY414009
  • Walk Distance: Less than 2km (Allow an hour)
  • Rating: Moderate (Initial steep climb from car park)
  • When to Go: Summertime


This Iron age hill fortress is managed by the National Trust. There is a small car park on the B3164 at the base of the southern end of the pen. As always don’t leave anything in your car that you don’t want to be stolen.

From the car park you need to carefully cross the road an follow the path up the hil to the triangulation point. At 277 metres this point affords great views in almost every direction. There is an information panel which details some of the pens’s history and wildlife. You can follow the ramparts around in a circular loop around this rather amazing fortress.

Things to do

Pilsdon Pen is popular with picnic groups and dog walkers. Dog should be kept under close control during the lambing season or when there are animals grazing. The other activity that seems popular is the flying of radio controlled planes and gliders. Pilsdon Pen is also on the route of two long distance walks: The Wessex Ridgeway and The Jubilee Trail.


Pilsdon Pen once housed a medieval rabbit warren, the outlines of which can still be seen from the air. Rabbits are everywhere and the rabbits attract the buzzards. Foxes may also be encountered.


There are great views in almost every direction from the top of Pilsdon Pen – no wonder it was such a great site for a fort. Given the right conditions you may be able to experiment with some landscape photography.

Other places to visit near by

Shave Cross is signposted from the Pilsdon Pen car park. Marshwood is not far up the road too the west whilst the village of Broadwindsor is just up the B3164 to the west.

I definitely recommend popping in to the Shave Cross Inn for a feed, go for the Carribean menu if it’s available.

Other walks include: