Obituary - Michael Mounde

Michael Mounde

Linda Nunn, AONB director, has paid tribute to Michael Mounde, chairman of the Cranborne Chase AONB since 2014, who died on Thursday 2 March at Odstock Hospital, Salisbury, after an illness.

“Michael will be much missed by us all at Cranborne Chase,” Linda said. “He was a central, driving force in all that we do. We will miss his enthusiasm, his wise leadership and depth of experience as our chairman.”

Michael’s tenure with the AONB began in 2003, during which time he drove forward rural economy and access issues. He represented West Wiltshire District Council on the Partnership Panel until the formation of the Unitary Authority in 2009; he became vice-chairman of the AONB Partnership in 2010 and then chairman in 2014. In addition, from 2012, he was an active member of the National Association for AONB board, helping the association achieve charitable status and focusing on policy and advocacy issues.

His funeral, which took place on 16 March at Kingston Deverill Church, was attended by a large number of family and friends.


Exciting new environmental charity seeks trustees

People with skills or experience in fundraising/bid writing, project management, marketing/promotion, HR, finance/book keeping or with all-important business acumen are invited to apply to be a trustee for an exciting new environmental charity, the Cranborne Chase Landscape Trust (CCLT).

This is a fantastic opportunity to help run the CCLT, which is focused on conserving and enhancing the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). If you are passionate about ‘green tourism’, traditional rural trades and crafts, practical countryside skills for young people and encouraging people to get out and explore the countryside, then this is the perfect role for you.

The trustees meet approximately six times a year, although some of these may be ‘virtual’ meetings via Skype or telephone. In addition, trustees may wish to attend AONB events or occasional training courses.

Suitable candidates appointed to the role will find that this is a great opportunity to discover new interests, broaden their experience in a variety of fields and meet new people.

Successful applicants will help the CCLT to deliver a new visitor and interpretation centre for the Cranborne Chase AONB and support a conservation project to improve local habitats for the endangered Turtle Dove.

For more information, visit, or for an informal discussion contact Steve Avery, chairman of CCLT; tel: 01425 483075 or Zam Baring, trustee and vice chairman of the AONB Partnership Panel, email:

All interested applicants should send a supporting statement and CV to Shirley Merrick on The closing date is 30 April 2017, with interviews held during May.

Chasing StarsMaking progress on Dark Night Skies bid

Ruth Coulthard from the Brecon Beacons National Park joined the Cranborne Chase AONB team for five weeks to progress the Chasing Stars project.

While 90% of the UK's population lives under a heavily polluted sky, the Cranborne Chase AONB is fortunate to enjoy some of the most pristine skies in England, making it a haven for stargazers and nocturnal wildlife.

Ruth has been working on the one of the key aims of the project, which is to gain International Dark Sky Reserve Status for the area. If this is achieved, Cranborne Chase will be only the 12th destination in the world - and the first AONB in the country - to be given this prestigious award. The key feature of gaining the status is not only to protect our dark night skies, but to reduce the amount of light pollution. It is not about turning off the lights, but just tackling the pollution – the wasted light that seeps outwards and upwards away from the things we want to light. So easy fixes, such as angling lights downwards and lowering the output of bulbs, can make a big difference while still ensuring that there is light to rely on.

Ruth has spent time with planners, drafting planning policy to give easy to follow advice for those thinking of new developments. A new dark sky website and two leaflets on getting the most out of the AONB’s dark skies and helping to get lighting right have also been produced.

"We’ve been really encouraged by the positive response from individual residents to large landowners and their commitment to work together to protect our night skies," said Ruth. "With work ongoing it is safe to say that the future is looking brighter for the stars of the AONB."

We show you how to make your woodland work for you

Win Green TreesWoodland owners can’t afford to miss ‘Making your woodland work for you’, a one-day event for those who wish to understand more about this valuable asset.

The event, a joint initiative between Cranborne Chase AONB and North Wessex Downs AONB, takes place at Dinton Village Hall on 3 May from 9.30am, with expert speakers including Nick Hoare, owner of Stourhead (Western) Estate, and Steve Russell, forestry management consultant. Topics covered will allow delegates to discover ways to keep their woodland healthy, improve the quality of habitats for woodland wildlife, make the most of tax incentives and generate income from the sale of timber and woodland products.

Additionally, there will be a choice of workshop sessions, during which attendees can explore the challenges of woodland management. An afternoon site visit to Teffont Estate will enable delegates to witness the impact and benefits of ongoing woodland management for themselves.

“There are many challenges to managing small ancient or coppice woodlands and it is a shame to see so many areas of woodland that are not being managed,” said Meg Chambers, woodland advisor to the North Wessex downs AONB.

Tickets cost £10. For more information and to book your place, contact the North Wessex downs AONB; tel: 01488 685440.

 South Wiltshire Farmland Conservation Project in the frame for Wiltshire Life award

Corn BuntingTracy Adams, the farm conservation advisor behind the South Wiltshire Farmland Conservation Project, will be attending the Wiltshire Life Awards on 24 March 2017 to see if she has beaten off the other shortlisted entries and won ‘Conservation Project of the Year’.

The South Wiltshire Farmland Conservation Project is aimed at improving bird and wildlife numbers and habitat on farmland in a 450 square mile area in and around the Cranborne Chase AONB. It has been running for two years and is a spin-off of the area’s original South Wiltshire Farmland Bird Project.

“We were already working closely with around 150 farmers, advising them on managing their farms for food production side by side with the six bird species,” said Tracy. “We had good relations with them and wanted to capitalise on that, and funding from Wessex Water’s Partners Programme allowed us to broaden our environmental remit.”

The basic concept behind the South Wiltshire Farmland Conservation Project is to bring together groups of farmers or ‘clusters’ to work together on improving soil, water and biodiversity, as well as submitting wildlife records so that a better picture of the biodiversity of the area can be constructed. Beneficiaries of the scheme are set to include rare butterflies, including the marsh fritillary, as well as the 19 species of bumble bee.

“We are looking to join up and fill in the gaps of foraging habitats,” Tracy explained. “So, for example, by improving the network of nectar producing plants we are hoping to safeguard bumble bee species and increase their numbers.”

“This is an exciting project that’s all about bringing together groups of farmers and changing attitudes,” she concluded.

Crayfish and communities benefit from SDF funding

Crayfish projectFOUR diverse projects on the Cranborne Chase have benefited from the Cranborne Chase & West Wiltshire Downs AONB Sustainable Development Fund in 2016/17, including a village shop and a groundbreaking crayfish research project on the River Allen.

The aim of the River Allen Crayfish Project, which received £1,590 in funding, is to determine the presence or absence of native white clawed crayfish in the River Allen using both crayfish refuges and environmental DNA (eDNA) diagnostics. The research follows an outbreak of crayfish plague in 2013 during which, it is thought, a large percentage of the river’s white clawed crayfish population were wiped out.

“During 2017, with the SDF funding, we are trialling eDNA in a joint project with the University of Derby,” said Jacob Dew, conservation officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust. “We are taking water samples at 20 points along the River Allen to try and locate any white clawed or signal crayfish that may be present in the river following the plague outbreak.”

River Allen - Lynn Cooch"EDNA has been trialled and licensed for use on great crested newts and we are hoping that this project can help Derby University refine eDNA for monitoring white clawed and signal crayfish. We will also trial eDNA sampling for crayfish plague to see if it still remains in the river four years on.

"Trials of eDNA monitoring for Crayfish in river systems are few and far between, although it has been trialled frequently on canals, lakes and ponds, and especially following a plague event,” said Jacob.

Wired for sound

The Cecil Memorial Hall in Cranborne received a grant of £1,660 which it is utilising to purchase a new Broadband service, improve the hall’s heating with destratification fans and set up a new website.

“The new broadband is enabling us to put on a play called Spillikin about an elderly alzheimer’s sufferer and a robot,”said Fiona Vigar, village hall treasurer. “Parts of the play are reliant on wifi, so we are delighted to be connected.”

The new village website, called Cranborne Info Hub, will be launched later in the year, with SDF money used to buy a software program and dedicated laptop to facilitate the build/running of the hub.

“As around 50% of the houses in Cranborne village are rented there isn’t much security of tenure and getting people to commit to doing things can be difficult, but we really hope that having a website with events will help to galvanise people. Thanks to the grant we hope this will be the start of a more active community,” added Fiona.

Meanwhile, Maiden Bradley village shop, which has recently appointed a new manager and opened a café, received a £200 grant. 

“When there is a need to purchase new equipment it can be difficult to find the funds so this is where we are so lucky to be able to draw on the generosity of the AONB,” said Liz Nixon. “When our cash till broke down - a vital piece of equipment for a shop - we applied to the AONB for a grant to purchase a new one.”

History book in the making

Sutton Veny has been spending its £550 to assist with the research of a book containing the history of the village and its surroundings going back to Roman times.

“Our research is still ongoing and some of the money has been spent on an annual licence to the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre,” said Jill Russell. “We are currently editing the book and have lined up Hobnob Press to print it, but as yet we don’t have the funds to proceed with that.”

“We have been delighted to support these very worthwhile projects,” said David Blake, project development officer at Cranborne Chase, who is seeking applications for 2017/18. “Often the communities have already raised their own funds and our contribution is the top up they need to get some very worthwhile projects off the ground. What I love about the SDF it its incredible diversity. We have been able to assist with a community coming together, a village bringing its fascinating history to a wider audience and an environmental scheme of the utmost importance.”

  • Spillikin, a love story by Pipeline Theatre involving four actors and a robot, which has enjoyed rave reviews in the national press, will be held at Cranborne Memorial Hall on Saturday 25 March at 7.30pm. Cost is £10, £5 (14-18s – not suitable for under 14s) and £25 (family of four). A bar and snack café will be available.

History buffs can save £££ with early bird ticket discount

Pitt-RiversThe Foundations of Archaeology will be exploring the theme of ‘The past in the present’ at its conference on Saturday 6 May at Dinton Village Hall. Anyone booking tickets before 31 March for this fascinating day will be able to purchase tickets at the discounted price of £18.

Speakers include Nathalie Barrett and David Ashby from the University of Winchester, Mike Allen from the University of Bournemouth and  the National Trust’s Martin Papworth who will explore the present day legacy of these three groundbreaking archaeologists. Salisbury Museum’s Adrian Green will discuss General Pitt-Rivers’ many links to Cranborne Chase.
Additionally, Emma Rouse and Philippe Planel of Wyvern Heritage will discuss The Foundations of Archaeology Project.

“We are working with volunteers to help further investigate and evaluate the three archaeological sites associated with these pioneers in South Wiltshire and North East Dorset,” explained Emma. “There is no doubting the passion of these men for their subject – amply reflected in Colt Hoare’s beautifully produced two volume Ancient History of Wiltshire (1812).”

The conference, at Dinton Village Hall, Bratch Lane, Dinton, Salisbury SP3 5EB, commences at 9.30-10am for registration. All tickets bought after 31 March 2017 will cost £23.

For more information, log on to; email; tel: 01747 870810.

Exciting archaeology events

Thursday 6 April - Winkelbury Earthworks 10.30am-4pm. Earthwork survey using GPS and Total
Station on the prehistoric earthworks to the south of the hill fort.
Sunday 30 April 2017 - Visit to Down Farm. Another chance to have a private tour of Martin Green’s
museum and archaeological sites on Down Farm, Sixpenny Handley.
Saturday 6 May 2017 -  Foundations of Archaeology Conference. See above.
27 June- 2 July - Foundations of Archaeology at the Chalk Valley History Festival, including:

  • Schools days Yrs 6, 7 and 8 on 27 and 29 June 2017
  • Friday 30 June 2017 – Uncovering the prehistoric archaeology of the Cranborne Chase.
  • The Foundations of Archaeology Project with special guest Martin Green. A ticketed morning workshop
  • Saturday and Sunday 1-2 July: History Festival main days at the FOA tent

22-23 July 2017 - Foundations of Archaeology at Salisbury Museum Festival of Archaeology

Foundations of Archaeology as part of the Council for British Archaeology Festival of Archaeology:

  • Thursday 27 July 2017 - William Cunnington at Heytesbury. A walk in the footsteps of a 19th century father of archaeology in association with the Cranborne Chase Landscape Partnership.
  • Friday 28 July 2017 - guided walk of the prehistoric archaeology of Martin Down Nature Reserve in association with the Cranborne Chase Landscape Partnership.


Dark skies and planning projects discussed at Annual Forum

Cranborne Chase’s bid for Dark Night Skies and projects funded were just two of the topics covered at a well-attended Annual Forum, held on 2 March at Sixpenny Handley Village Hall.

Richard at the Annual ForumRichard Burden, landscape and planning advisor, said of his work: 

  • 728 applications have been received, including those relating to wind turbines, housing, festivals, telecoms masts and ‘Grand Designs’ replacement dwellings
  • Proactive work includes planning seminars and new and updated guidance for planners; training for parishes and we have published a Guide to Conserving and Enhancing the Landscape Settings of our Rural Highways.
  • We have a Farm Diversification Position Statement and guidance note on agricultural buildings and good lighting. These are available to download on the website.
  • Housing proposals have been received from Blandford, Shaftesbury and Warminster.
  • Strategy includes neighbourhood plans and minerals and waste plans
  • Position statements on farm diversification, good enough to approve and affordable parking at transport nodes.
  • Good practice notes (detail more technical issues) on new agricultural buildings, good external lighting and Landscape Character Assessment in Neighbourhood Planning. All are available on the website.

David Blake, project development officer, said of his work:

  • We have been working to come up with what an environmentally sustainable chalk landscape would look like and how we reach that point.
  • Landscape monitoring will take place with fixed post photography to see how the landscape changes over time. This will be particularly useful when looking at Ash dieback disease.
  • The Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) had £4,000 to distribute during 2016/17, which went to Maiden Bradley Community Shop, Sutton Veny History Group, the River Allen Crayfish Project and the Cecil Memorial Hall in Cranborne.

Anne Carney, funding and partnerships officer said of her work:

  • A new charity, the Cranborne Chase Landscape Trust, was set up with the aim of inspiring everyone with an interest in the Cranborne Chase AONB to get involved in the conservation and enhancement of this special landscape.
  • Since their launch, the Locator Logos have proved popular with local businesses. They are a great opportunity to brand businesses associated with the Cranborne Chase and are currently free to use.
  • A potential site has been earmarked for a new AONB Countryside Centre, with architects engaged.
  • The AONB has been successful in its first round funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Cranborne Chase Landscape Partnership scheme, with £1.7 million ringfenced for the project. The AONB will be carrying out a public consultation over the summer. Look out for opportunities to take part. Read more here

For keen stargazers, Bob Mizon mentioned Stellarium, a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.

Taste the Chase

Following the successful inaugural Taste the Chase last year, the hugely popular fixture that showcases food and drink produced within the Cranborne Chase AONB, will now return in the autumn of 2017 with a new date and a new venue. Watch this space for details. 

Email if you are interested in taking a stand.

Visit the fascinating Old Fonthill Abbey grounds

Fonthill Explore Old Fonthill Abbey Grounds on Sunday 30 April and Sunday 14 May 2017 between 10.30am-5pm.

Enjoy the rhododendrons around the lake and paths through bluebell woods. Refreshments include barbecued sausages, soup and cakes.

Entry is via Stonegate Lodge SP3 6SP on the Hindon-Newtown lane. Dogs on leads are welcome.

Entry is by donation, with a suggestion of £5+.


AONB Office, Shears Building, Stone Lane Industrial Estate, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 1HD
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