• Cranborne Chase AONB, Shears Building, Stone Lane Industrial Estate, Wimborne, BH21 1HB  Tel: 01725 517417
Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is one of the nation’s finest landscapes. At 981 square kilometres it is the sixth largest of 46 AONBs in the country.
The immense historic and biodiversity riches in this nationally protected area are held in high esteem by local communities and visitors alike

New chairman is wildlife enthusiast

Nick GosseTHE Cranborne Chase AONB has appointed Nicholas (Nick) Gosse, a former oil company executive with first-hand experience of preserving critically endangered wildlife, as chairman.

Nick and his wife, Claudia, have lived within the AONB, near East Knoyle, for the last three years, where they are active in various community activities, including writing nature notes for the local newsletter. 

It was Nick’s childhood interest in natural history and the environment that took him, as a young man, to Kenya for two years where he worked for a game translocation specialist. On returning to England he pursued a career in mechanical engineering and project management.

“This provided me with a wonderful opportunity to explore natural environments as diverse as the jungles of Borneo and the mountains and deserts of the Iran, the Gulf States and the Maghreb, always with a camera to hand,” he said.

Nick spent the last 15 years of his career running the interests of an international oil company, first in North Africa and then in Russia. In the latter he linked up with the Director General of the Astrakhan Biosphere Zones and secured company sponsorship for a breeding programme to preserve the critically endangered western population of the Siberian Crane, as well as a breeding and release project for three native species of sturgeon in the Volga Delta.

Of protected landscapes in the UK, Nick said: “There are encouraging signs from the government that it is coming to recognise the vital importance of the link between agriculture and the conservation of the natural environment. This provides real hope for the creation of a sustainable nationally designated landscape.

“To quote the Environment Secretary: ‘This Government has pledged that we must be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.’ For this enlightened policy to take root, we need centres of learning to promote an understanding of why agriculture and nature must harmonise. They are the indivisible components in the creation of a sustainable landscape and ecosystem that will survive for future generations.”

  • The AONB Partnership is very sad to say goodbye to Zam Bearing, who is standing down as vice-chairman, a role he has occupied for three years. "Zam has been a fantastic vice-chair," said Linda Nunn, Director of the AONB. "He was responsible for driving forward many great projects, and we will miss his input into the Cranborne Chase Landscape Trust in particular. We wish him well in his new life in Hampshire."

Discover Shire Rack in June

Shire WalkLEARN about legends, historical intrigue and the hidden gems of a part of the beautiful Cranborne Chase AONB when the County Boundary Research Group leads two fascinating fact-finding walks along Shire Rack, the Dorset/Wiltshire border path, on Wednesday 6 June.

The two walks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon of approximately three hours each, will take place between Garston Wood and Shermel Gate, along the footpath which follows the boundary.

Facts relating to the history of the boundary pointed out during this memorable day will include its ‘registration’ in Anglo-Saxon charters. These provide a list of boundary features found along its course in AD955-6 and the walks will follow in the footsteps of those 10th century land surveyors.

Centuries of management will also be looked at, including large veteran tree stools, rows of coppiced hazels and, where the Bowerchalke road crosses the boundary on the edge of Garston Wood, a huge Whitebeam, which may have been planted as a marker tree. Here you can find elements of a former funnel-shaped entrance relating to the driving of livestock over the border. A similar feature can be found at Shermel Gate.

The word shermel betrays the existence of a one-time tall wayside border cross, a shire mael — the signposts of an earlier world. Depending on which walk you attend, you may also be able to explore the overgrown micel burh ‘big fort’ or today’s Mistleberry Camp, which is understood to be an unfinished hill fort.
The morning walk will commence at 10.30am and the afternoon one at 1.30pm. More details will be sent out on receipt of bookings.

The terrain is slightly undulating and unsuitable for wheelchairs. Sturdy footwear is recommended. Please bring your own refreshments – a packed lunch for the first walk and something for afternoon tea for the second. A free minibus will be provided. Park at the far end of the Sixpenny Handley Village Hall carpark where a bus will meet you and also drop you off at the end of the walk. Further timing details will be emailed to those who have signed up.

The walk is one of the Cranborne Chase & Chalke Valley Landscape Partnership (LP) events. The LP is currently compiling an exciting portfolio of projects that, once approved, would provide a £2.5m programme of activities from 2019 to 2024 to help conserve the area, to engage people within and outside — to enjoy and play a role in celebrating and safeguarding its unique qualities into the future.

Booking is essential. Email shirleymerrick@cranbornechase.org.uk to reserve your place.

  • The Landscape Partnership is waiting to hear from people within the Partnership area with great ideas for projects. So whether a community would like to enrich the flora along its verges, restore a village pond, develop a star-gazing point or set up a hedgehog survey, the Landscape Partnership team would love to hear from them. For more information, contact Roger Goulding, Landscape Partnership Development Officer; tel: 01725 517417; email: rogergoulding@cranbornechase.org.uk. A map of the Cranborne Chase & Chalke Valley Landscape Partnership area can also be found at http://www.cccvlps.org.uk/

Guided walk will take in butterflies, flowers and wildlife

ButterflyTHERE is still time to sign up for the guided walk on Sunday 17 June in Stratford Tony and Throope Down, led by the Wiltshire branch of Butterfly Conservation in conjunction with the Cranborne Chase and Chalke Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Butterflies, flowers and other wildlife of these two impressive areas of chalk grassland in south Wiltshire will be the main focus during the day, with species identification and downland ecology also covered.
The plan is to spend the morning at Stratford Tony and the afternoon at Throope Down. Bring a packed lunch if you intend staying for the afternoon visit to Throope Down.

Contact Nigel Spring, tel: 07981776 767; email: nigelspring@yahoo.co.uk.

AONB seeks Dark Sky Advisor

Dark skies logoTHE Cranborne Chase AONB has a vacancy for a Dark Sky Advisor, based in Wimborne.

This 10-month temporary/fixed term post would suit an enthusiastic and committed person who would be helping to co-ordinate the team’s bid for International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) reserve status, as well as promoting the multiple benefits of that status to the widest possible audiences. This will be achieved through presentations and developing a ‘Dark-Sky Friendly’ accreditation scheme for AONB tourism businesses.

The successful applicant will assist in lighting data collection for the lightscape management plan, take regular dark sky readings across the AONB and be the first point of contact for public and media enquiries.

They will need a good understanding of the international dark sky reserve concept and designation, knowledge of the lighting industry, terminology and light fittings. As well as proven experience in communicating to, and engaging with, a wide variety of audiences, the ideal candidate needs to be able to self-motivate and use their initiative, plus they will require excellent IT skills, including PowerPoint.

Linda Nunn, Cranborne Chase AONB Director, said: “If you enjoy working to a deadline in a positive and friendly environment, you will have the strong support of the AONB team as we work together towards this prestigious designation.”

The closing date for applications is 5pm on Tuesday 29 May 2018. Interviews will be held on Wednesday 13 June in Wimborne, Dorset. This post is based in Wimborne and offers a salary of £21,074 - £23,111 pro rata per annum.

View the advert at https://jobs.wiltshire.gov.uk/details#/reference/WAE00064.

For an informal discussion about the post, contact Linda Nunn, AONB Director, tel: 01725 517417; email: lindanunn@cranbornechase.org.uk.

  • Light pollution is a big issue. It not only wastes energy, costs money and impacts on wildlife. It even affects our health. It also stops people from enjoying the night skies. The Cranborne Chase AONB is putting together a bid to make the area an International Dark Skies Reserve. First we need to map where the dark skies are, then work with communities to find where light pollution is coming from and where lighting can be improved to make our dark skies even better. You can help our bid by saying that you support the vision of the Cranborne Chase AONB International Dark Skies Reserve. Please sign here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NL375VD It only takes a moment. Thank you.

SDF money available for projects

PoundTHE Cranborne Chase AONB has a small fund available to support community projects in 2018/19 within the area via the Sustainable Development Fund (SDF). Past projects supported include the Deverills Festival, the restoration of historic fingerposts in Gussage All Saints and a groundbreaking crayfish research project on the River Allen.

The fund supports projects that bring social, environmental and economic benefits to the AONB. It aims to develop and test new methods of achieving a more sustainable way of life. The exact amounts of the awards differ from year to year, dependent on budget, but projects typically receive £500-£1,000.

It is important to remember two things:

•    The grant must be spent in the financial year (1 April – 31 March) in which it is awarded.

•    Successful applicants will be expected to help publicise the Fund and the AONB.

Examples of the types of projects that might be eligible for awards are:

•    Community shops and local products.

•    Projects that work with disadvantaged young people.

•    Fund raising events for community action; so that the funds raised are not used in putting on the event.

•    Projects to develop sustainable technologies, such as renewable energy schemes.

•    Projects that communicate and celebrate the history and culture of this area.

This is a fund that seeks to foster innovative ways of working and living in the AONB, so we hope that you will come up with ideas that we have never thought of.

If you think that your project fits the bill, you can apply online at http://www.ccwwdaonb.org.uk/our-work/grants-funding/

Further funding opportunities for worthwhile projects

Money VOTING opens on 31 May for the Jewson Building Better Communities Fund. Has your community submitted an idea for potential funding? If so start voting on https://www.buildingbettercommunities.co.uk so that your favourite can win. Voting closes on 20 June.

Jewson Building Better Communities rewards good causes with a £250,000 prize fund. Since 2015 the competition has donated more than £600,000 worth of building materials to 68 people and projects that are at the heart of communities.

The Fund awards a top regional prize of £50,000 (split equally between labour and building materials costs) and multiple prizes ranging from £500 to £10,000. Local Trade Heroes (which seeks to celebrate construction workers who play a big role in their community) can also win £50,000 worth of building materials to enable them to complete worthy projects, such as new sports club changing rooms, a much-needed play area for children or a facelift for a community building. If you have missed entering your project this year, make a note in your diary for 2019, as nominations open in April.

Weston Anniversary Fund – Garfield Weston Foundation: To celebrate the Foundation’s anniversary and the vital role of volunteers and community charities, an additional grant scheme opened to applications in January and will close on 30 June 2018. One off grants are available to support capital projects to provide new or improve existing community facilities that will benefit local communities across the UK. The Fund is open to UK registered charities, CIOs, places of worship and state schools only with a total income under £3m. Grants can range from £30,000 -£150,000 with total project costs not exceeding £300,000.
Decisions on applications will not be made until October 2018. For more information, visit https://anniversary.garfieldweston.org/weston-anniversary-fund/

Horse riders enjoy beauty of the Chase

Arc rideALMOST 190 horses and riders took part in the inaugural ARC ride on the last Sunday in April. The riders, one as young as six, found themselves crossing parts of the stunning Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) that is in private ownership and is not normally open to the public.

Tisbury-based Nova Robinson, who piloted her mare Lily around two of the three routes that took in the Ashcombe, Rushmore and Chettle estates, said: “I’ve done quite a few pleasure rides, but this is the best one I’ve been on. It was really well organised and the routes were so well marked.”

Many of the riders had come along to have fun and admire the amazing scenery, while others were using the ARC Ride with more serious goals in mind, as a pipe-opening run and part of their preparations for the Endurance GB Golden Horseshoe Ride (18-20 May).

The ARC Ride was organised by Kay Allen and it had been eight months in the planning. Kay, who runs her own consultancy business, Diverse Advice, had pulled together a team of 45 volunteers and had enlisted the help of numerous friends and members of her family, including her husband, Brian, and friend Peter Caudell who marked out the route together.

“It took them in excess of nine hours yesterday,” said Kay. “They are already trying to work out how long it will take them to take all the markers down again.”

Thanks to the sponsorship money raised by Kay’s nephew, Phil Allen, the costs of running the event were covered and, with an estimated £4,000 raised from entry fees and the raffle, several good causes — the Dorset Air Ambulance, Wilton Riding for the Disabled and the historic local churches of Tollard Royal, Farnham and Chettle — were set to benefit.

“The whole idea of the ride came about when my friend Jennifer Jenke broke her neck out hunting. She was rescued by the Dorset Air Ambulance. At the time I had no idea that air ambulance services were self-funded, but once I found out, Jenni and I decided that we wanted to do something to help,” said Kay, who went on to pay tribute to Ed Jenke, who supplied the marquee for the event, as well as Carol Lewis, Natalia Palmer and Rob Shaw, who took hundreds of photos during the day.

“And I can’t forget Angie Cox and Ali Worden for letting me invade their equestrian homes,” added Kay, who tackled the ARC Ride herself once the last public entry had set off from the Tollard Park Equestrian Centre start point.

“I rode with my friend [GB endurance rider] Jackie Lloyd,” added Kay. “I was lucky enough to ride Jackie’s mare Redhouse Lily Marlene, while Jackie rode her well known Khalifa BJ. We had a wonderful time.”

Can you help us with our Turtle dove research?

Turtle doveTHE iconic Turtle dove (right) is one of our fastest declining birds, with the UK population dropping by 95% since 1995.

The Cranborne Chase AONB has a small breeding population, particularly around Martin, and needs to know where Turtle doves might be feeding for a planned research project to help them. They only eat seeds and food shortages are one of the reasons for their decline.

Turtle doves migrate to the UK from Africa in April to breed and have a distinctive purring call. Click here for a link to familiarise with it.
https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/turtle-dove

Clean water is also important for the birds, so a shallow tray on the ground would be beneficial to them.

Collared DoveThe Collared dove (below right) is often seen in gardens – please don’t contact us if have seen one of these birds as they are not endangered.

Please get in touch if you have seen a Turtle dove. Email: tracyadams@cranbornechase.org.uk; tel: 01725 517417.

 

 

 

 

How you can help our wild birds

WITH spring having arrived, so have the birds that grace the AONB during the breeding season, writes Nick Adams, wildlife advisor at Lower Pertwood Farm.

A number have been held up by a run of northerly gales in Northern Africa, but the flyway now looks clear so any that seem to have not arrived will be piling in any day. I was pleased to hear my first cuckoo of the year on 2 May.

CuckooPictured right is a female waiting for me to move away so she can find a meadow pipit’s nest.

I do like to hear the warblers singing heartily after their journey from Africa.

ChaffinchBelow right is a chiffchaff taking advantage of a piece of recently removed farm fencing to perch on and look for insects to catch.

Species like chiffchaff and the closely related willow warbler nest on the ground in areas of rank, tussocky grass, usually near to some scrub or woodland. They will take advantage of the tussocky grassland around recently planted trees on farms.

•    If possible, leave as much of the tussocky grass around recently planted trees for species like the chiffchaff to nest in. It is great for voles too.

Another favourite of mine is the whitethroat. They often sing from the top of a hedge or bush and breed again on or near the ground, often in the rough edges to farm tracks among the parsley and hogweed stems.

•    Leave the rough track edges uncut for species like whitethroat and stonechat to nest in.

 

Don’t miss the LP’s exciting displays at the Chalke Valley History Festival

CVHF MapMAKE sure you visit the Cranborne Chase AONB and the Cranborne Chase & Chalke Valley Landscape Partnership scheme at the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival (25 June-1 July) to enjoy the historic demonstrations and characters from other eras who once lived locally. The LP marquee will be sited between the Hiscox marquee and the activity area (see map). As a result of the LP’s involvement, a number of local schools will enjoy heavily subsidised entry to the Festival.

This year at the CVHF there is an increased focus on local history, with a plethora of talks that will bring to life the characters who have lived within the Landscape Partnership area, including some relating to those who lived in the LPS and Chalke Valley area.

William Poole will be giving an expert guide on the achievements of the antiquarian and historian, John Aubrey; Hugo Vickers will explore the legacy of legendary photographer and designer Cecil Beaton; Rob Wilkins will talk about the life, work and inspiration of author Terry Pratchett; Rick Gekoski will take a look at the life of the author William Golding; Primrose Campbell will be outlining the turbulent life of her grandfather, the artist Henry Lamb; and Alex von Tunzelmann will provide a blistering account of how British Prime Minister Anthony Eden led the world to the brink of nuclear conflict.

“We are delighted that the Chalke Valley History Festival has so positively embraced the idea of featuring so many of our famous cultural characters of the past,” said LP Officer Roger Goulding. “It is also fantastic  that local walks will take in some incredible sites and stories on our doorstep."

  • Renowned archaeologist Bill Moffat leading local historical walks throughout Festival week in the AONB, including one around Herepath and Chiselbury (on Monday 25, Wednesday 27 and Friday 29 June at 10am-1pm). This walk will strike north beyond the village onto the very edge of the chalk. Highlights will be wild chalk downland, the hillfort of Chiselbury, the Garston hill climb, and the scattered remains of prehistoric settlement.
  • There will also be walks in Broad Chalke (on Monday 25, Tuesday 26, Wednesday 27, Thursday 28 and Friday 29 June at 2.30-4.30pm). Focussing on the village itself, the tour will examine the church, various fine and modest houses, the water meadows and nonconformist chapels. Wild speculation will include the importance of the village in the Saxon period, while the walk begins on the site of the Saxon burial ground at Bury Orchard.
  • A further walk to the Ox Drove will take place (on Tuesday 26 and Thursday 28 June at 10am-1pm). South from the festival site, this walk will go up Church Bottom and will look at the formation of the chalkland and evidence of past activity, mixed with modern history and folklore. Walkers will be able to view a grassland nature reserve, hidden parkland, ancient tracks and tombs — even the one reputed to be of Gawain himself.
  • Early booking for the walks is essential as many are almost sold out already. To book, visit https://programme.cvhf.org.uk.

Back at the Festival site, at 10.15 on Friday 29 June, Antony Firth will discuss the Sutton Mandeville Badges project which has rejuvenated the wonderful Royal Warwickshire badge, carved into the chalk at Sutton Mandeville. He will also reveal details of the planned restoration of the Shiny Seventh badge and the World War I camps sited in the area.

To see the full schedule, visit https://programme.cvhf.org.uk.

The Hub is recognised as a dementia-friendly place

HUBA CERTIFICATE was presented to the Broad Chalke HUB at the end of April for the “truly friendly” way it welcomes people living with dementia. The award was made by members of the Laverstock Memory Support Group led by Elizabeth Bartlett. It is part of project sponsored by DEEP, a national organisation that helps people living with dementia to make their voices heard and to decide for themselves whether services they use are friendly towards them. Without exception, members who use the HUB have commented about their positive experiences.

One member who has dementia said: “I’m not aware of ever being treated in any way differently to anyone else. Everyone is always pleasant and helpful.”

Family carers have been equally positive. One said: “I can happily leave my husband there with a cup of coffee and a newspaper for an hour while I go to keep fit. I know that he will be safe and will enjoy chatting to everyone.”

If you would like to know more about this initiative, contact Elizabeth Bartlett, tel: 0781 238 1463; email: elizabethbartlett@ntlworld.com.

The National Plant Monitoring Scheme needs YOU!

NPMSTHE government funded National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) has now been running for three years. This unique and statistically robust scheme asks volunteers to record the wildflowers they see (from a list) and the data is used to track changes in the quality of semi natural habitats, writes Felicity Harris, Head of Outreach at Plantlife

As the weather warms up the diversity of flora within the Cranborne Chase AONB is starting to show. Over the bank holiday I enjoyed a wonderful walk through the woods at Wardour, the warm air scented with bluebells and primroses. Jack by the Hedge and Stitchwort acted as a white foil to the blue hues with red campion accessorising the colour palette.

My evening walks around Fovant continue to bring me joy. The hedges and road verges are full of violets, celandine and some early purple orchids. Sadly the windflower has gone over. In a few weeks, I will be taking my annual walk onto Sutton Mandeville Downs to revel in the diversity of orchids. All of this is a gentle reminder that this year I will be revisiting my National Plant Monitoring Square soon.

Cranborne Chase AONB has 11 NPMS squares which are 1km x 1km, and all bar one have been allocated to volunteers. This perhaps reflects the fact that the landscape of the AONB constantly beckons you and asks you to explore. One of the great things about the scheme is its accessible nature. Over a third of the 1,200 NPMS volunteers say they are new to recording. The way the scheme is designed and the support materials provided help beginners to get involved. Volunteers have told us that the scheme is helping them to discover new places on their doorstep and understand their local environment more.

This year the scheme organisers hope that NPMS volunteers continue to be involved with the scheme. We also hope that the remaining square at Rockbourne is adopted by a volunteer(s). To find out more about the scheme and how you can get involved visit www.npms.org.uk.

Restored military badge opened by Duke of Kent

DukeTHE Duke of Kent made a flying visit to South Wiltshire at the beginning of May.  He arrived by helicopter to open the recently restored badge of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment which is carved into the chalk hillside above the village of Sutton Mandeville, writes John Gailey.

The Duke, who is Colonel in Chief of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the successor regiment to the Royal Warwicks, was received by the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Troughton, the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Nicky Alberry, Baroness Jane Scott, Leader of Wiltshire Council and General Sir Jack Deverell, Chairman of the Sutton Mandeville Heritage Trust, the Charity which restored the badge.

DukeAfter unveiling a plaque to officially open the badge, the Duke met members and volunteers from the Trust, and representatives of the organisations who had assisted in the restoration.  Also present were old comrades who had served in the Royal Warwicks and the Fusiliers. The guests were entertained by the Corp of Drums of the 1st Bn Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, based at Tidworth.

The Royal Warwickshire badge is one of two military badges above Sutton Mandeville, which form a continuation of the more well-known badges at Fovant.  First cut in 1916, when the fields below the escarpment were home to tens of thousands of soldiers training for the Western Front, the badges represent regimental pride and a ‘we were here’ sentiment.

Wilbert Smith, a member of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West Committee, said: “I’m delighted to celebrate the successful restoration of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment badge and a project which is continuing to uncover and tell the stories of the soldiers who were based here a century ago.”

The project to restore the two Sutton Mandeville badges began in 2013, on the eve of the centenary of World War I, as a tribute to the soldiers who served there. The badges had become overgrown, and volunteers cleared the steep hillside, mapped the badge to its original outline following a drone survey, funded by the Cranborne Chase AONB, and last year the Trust successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund to complete the restoration.  The Trust hopes to restore the second badge, that of the 7th (City of London) Battalion of the London Regiment – the Shiny 7th – later this year.

  • Sutton Mandeville Heritage Trust is appealing for people to get in touch if they have ancestors who were based in the camps in the area during World War I. They are especially keen to track down photographs or documents relating to the badges, camps or soldiers at Sutton Mandeville. To find out more, and to help look after the badges for the future, visit https://suttonbadges.org.uk.

Hardy Way creator walks the path for charity

MargaretDURING April and May, 81-year-old Fontmell Magna resident Margaret Marande walked the 220-mile Hardy Way — the Hardyway4harry walk —  the long-distance path she created 20 years ago — to raise funds for three good causes in memory of her late partner, Harry. Here she recounts walking the path through areas of the Cranborne Chase AONB:

"The Hardy Way enters the Cranborne Chase AONB on the Roman road between Badbury Rings and Witchampton. Hardy wrote a poem called The Roman Road.
The route from Witchampton was idyllic. It was a beautiful, glittering sunny morning as we walked through the grounds of Crichel House, alongside the River Allen, which was in full spate; much higher than I’ve ever seen it before.

A short diversion from the route leads to Knowlton Church and Earthworks, a unique circle with the ruins of a Christian Church inside a pagan henge.

Over farmland to Wimborne St Giles. Becky, my companion walker, managed to get a picture of a hare (it was a good hare day as we saw several) and a timid deer well camouflaged.

Hardy wrote a short story called Barbara of the House of Grebe; his Knollingwood Hall was a reflection of St Giles House. We sat in the village to enjoy a lunchtime picnic in the sun. This was about the last we saw of the sun because on the approach to Cranborne it started to rain heavily so we were forced into the garden centre for a cream tea.

Cranborne is important in Tess of the d’Urbervilles, as Hardy’s Chaseborough. On the way home to Trantridge (many claim this to be Pentridge), after an evening at The Fleur de Luce, (now the Inn at Cranborne) Tess is raped by the villainous Alec d’Urberville in the dark forest of The Chase.
Next day was a mixture of sunshine and showers, mainly heavy showers but it eased at Pentridge enabling pictures of the church and cottages.

As the path ascended to the A354 there was a good view of various tumuli, the massive causeway of Ackling Dyke and the earthwork of Bokerley Ditch. Hardy was very interested in the landscape of prehistoric and Roman Britain and mentions this area in his poem My Cicely. Between Sixpenny Handley and Tollard Royal the rain was heavy indeed, which rather spoiled this part of the walk along the Shire Rack, the boundary between Dorset and Wiltshire and the Rushmore Estate.

The next day, from Tollard to Shaftesbury, was much better. Hardy loved the Larmer Tree Grounds at Tollard and in 1895, with his wife, Emma, he attended the annual sports there and danced with the beautiful Mrs Grove, daughter of General Pitt-Rivers of Rushmore. Years later when Agnes Grove died he wrote a poem about that far off evening Concerning Agnes.

North Dorset MP Simon Hoare and his three young daughters walked some way up the valley with us. After that we trudged up the long hill to Win Green, mentioned in Tess as Wingreen, where Alec d’Urberville threatens her with a hurtling ride downhill in the dog-cart. As we climbed we saw more hares, one of which careered towards us on the track. After the summit we descended through watercress beds to Ludwell and The Grove Arms where we had a lunch break. The secluded valley of the Coombe villages took us out of the Cranborne Chase area into Shaftesbury.”

Margaret is supporting the following charities: Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund  — https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/hardyway4harrypancreatic; League of Friends of the Westminster Memorial Hospital — https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/hardyway4harryhospital; Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Centre at Higher Bockhampton — cheques to Dorset County Council, Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Centre, Higher Bockhampton DT2 8QH.

For more information on the walk, visit www.facebook.com/hardyway.

Seeking myth and legend in Cranborne Chase

GhostTHE team at the Cranborne Chase AONB is seeking stories of myth and legend. Does your village have a ghostly highwayman or is your local pub said to be haunted? If so please tell us about it. The best myths and legends will eventually appear on our website. Please send your stories to julieharding@cranbornechase.org.uk.

Have you got news for us?

DO you live within the Cranborne Chase AONB and have a story that you would like to promote to the wider community? We would love to hear about your events, projects, thriving rural businesses, etc, which we may not only publicise in this monthly E-newsletter, but also on our website and to the wider press if the story merits it. The more wonderful newsworthy items we can relate, the more we will raise our profile and the more people will come and visit. If you have a story to tell, please get in touch. Email: JulieHarding@cranbornechase.org.uk.