Sturminster Newton – the ‘capital of the Blackmore Vale’ – is a sleepy town which holds a market on Mondays. This used to have one of the largest cattle markets in England but it closed in 1998. The larger part of the town, Sturminster, lies to the north of the River Stour with Newton, the smaller part, to the south.
How To Get Here
Sturminster Newton is in North Dorset, about 7.5 miles north-west of Blandford Forum and 7.5 miles south-west of Shaftesbury. From Blandford, head north on the A350 towards Shaftesbury. At the traffic lights, turn left onto the A357. Go through Durweston and Shillingstone and after 5 or 6 miles, you will be approaching Sturminster Newton Bridge. On the right, opposite Common Lane and The Bull Tavern is a small car park.
For Cutt Mill, cross over Sturminster Newton Bridge and continue through the town on the B3092 until you reach Hinton St Mary. Turn left into Marriage Lane, which then bears sharp left and becomes Cutt Mill Lane. At the end of the lane is the mill, with parking for around 6 cars. The last section of the lane is steep and if it is icy, park further up and walk down to the mill.
- Parking Lat/Long: 50.921298, -2.306581
- Parking Postcode: DT10 2BS
- OS Map grid ref: ST 785 135
- Parking Lat/Long: 50.948070, -2.319414
- Parking Postcode: DT10 1NG
- OS Map grid ref: ST 776 165
- Map: OS Explorer 129 (1:25 000) Yoevil and Sherborne
What To Shoot and Viewpoints
The main photographic interest is the mill, one of several our mills built on the River Stour. It is an L-shaped building, partly 17th-century stone and partly 18th-century brick. It lies about 300 metres upstream of an impressive 6-arch medieval bridge. By following the footpath upstream from the mill it will take you to Riverside Villas, where the Dorset novelist Thomas Hardy lived when he wrote The Return of the Native.
Viewpoint 1 – Sturminster Newton Bridge
From the car park, walk towards the bridge. There are some good angles to shoot it from the side of the river.
Viewpoint 2 – Sturminster Newton Mill
From the car park, walk along the main road towards the bridge. Cross the bridge, and then immediately on your left is a footpath which takes you along the river to the mill. There is a weir, which means that the water in front of the mill is still, with good re ections. There are plenty of reeds for foreground interest. For a slightly different shot, try taking a low viewpoint and framing.
Viewpoint 3 – Cutt Mill
A mile and a half north of Sturminster Newton is the village of Hinton St Mary. Beautifully situated on the banks of the Stour here is Cutt Mill. Its origins are unclear but the present stone dates from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Unfortunately, the building is in a sad state of repair following a re in 2003. Nevertheless, it makes a nice focal point for a photograph looking up the river from the bridge.
It’s a short, level walk from the car park to the viewpoints, which should present no problems for any fitness level. There is no disabled access to the banks of the river to photograph the mill.
Best Time of Year/Day
Most shots of Sturminster Newton mill are taken early in the day in summer, when the sun falls nicely onto the building. However, it does also shoot well in winter, especially on frosty mornings, when you can make the most of the reeds in the foreground. The bridge is a good early morning subject year round.
Cutt Mill is a good late afternoon and sunset location year round, though especially around mid-summer, when you can shoot directly towards the setting sun. From mid summer through until early autumn, the early morning light can also be quite flattering.