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Cranborne Chase


Cranborne Manor garden, Dorset, England, UK by Alexandra RichardsTrace the footsteps of King John, Henry VIII and James I in the former royal hunting ground of Cranborne Chase © Alexandra Richards

Once a royal hunting forest, this is now a sparsely populated area offering exceptional walking, cycling and horseriding.

The B3081 from Shaftesbury takes you up on to the hills of the Cranborne Chase for sweeping panoramas of the Dorset and Wiltshire countryside. Win Green (National Trust) lies just over the Wiltshire border; it is the highest point in the Cranborne Chase and draws an assortment of walkers, model aircraft enthusiasts and kite-flyers. The hill is crowned by a clump of trees growing on a Bronze Age bowl barrow.

Cranborne Chase was once a royal hunting ground, hence the ‘Chase’ part of the name, and originally covered the area between Shaftesbury, Salisbury, Ringwood, Wimborne and Blandford Forum. An impressive line-up of monarchs hunted here, including King John, Henry VIII and James I. In those days much of the area would have been wooded but today it is characterised by open downland with pockets of woodland.

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