Visit Cranborne for natural beauty and stargazing

Seeking a truly rural escape? 

The Cranborne Chase, one of Dorset’s two National Landscapes, offers tranquil villages with welcoming pubs. It has wonderful and varied countryside, perfect for summertime strolls, brisk winter walks and scenic cycle rides.

Cranborne Chase National Landscape is an International Dark Sky Reserve, one of only 21 in the world! It is recognised for the quality of its night skies and is a fantastic place to go stargazing.

On the riverbank

At the heart of the Chase lies Cranborne, a pretty village of red brick cottages. Stroll along the River Crane, from which the village gets its name, for lovely views of the village buildings, including the beautiful Manor House, have a ‘root around’ in a section of its walled garden, now a high quality garden centre.  

For local flavour pay a visit to one of the village’s pubs or restaurants, call into the bakery or choose from a selection of meats and produce in the village shop, where the goods are sourced from the local estates.

A hunting we will go

As you explore this pretty, tranquil village it is hard to imagine it was once a thriving town on a scale to rival Durham or even London. 

The Manor dates back to the Middle Ages when King John was a regular visitor during hunting trips on the Cranborne Chase. During that time the village was a garrison for troops protecting the King and had a population comparable with England’s major towns and cities.

Today you can still enjoy venison, pheasant and other game caught on the Chase in restaurants across the region.

Literary inspiration

Cranborne has inspired authors and poets alike. Known as Chaseborough in the novels of Thomas Hardy, the Inn at Cranborne (formerly the Fleur de Lys) featured as the Flower-de-Luce in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. 

The Inn also played host to the poet Rupert Brooke who penned a poem in its honour. With the stunning scenery of the Chase on the doorstep and a cosy log fire to return to, perhaps the village will work its magic and have you waxing lyrical!

Majestic views

Part of the Cranborne Chase National Landscape, this panoramic landscape is rich in flora and fauna. Discover rare orchids and butterflies and listen for the wonderful calls of song birds. 

Take in the stunning views on a walk across the Chase’s open downland, the clear air will blow away the cobwebs and leave you feeling invigorated. From challenging long distance paths to shorter, circular walks, you are sure to find a route to suit.

Archaeology abounds

Intrigued by history, fascinated by the past? Cranborne Chase offers archaeological sites aplenty from the Church and Pagan rings at Knowlton to Neolithic and roman routes, Bronze Age barrows to the mysterious Dorset Cursus.

Regular archaeological digs on the Chase are still uncovering remnants of our heritage. Learn more at the informative Museum of East Dorset, set in a sixteenth century townhouse in Wimborne Minster.

You can also get ‘hands on with history’ at the amazing Ancient Technology Centre in Cranborne. This unusual site boasts a range of recreated ancient buildings including an earth-house and Viking Longhouse. The site is open for special period weekends and educational visits so you can discover whether you have what it takes to be a Roman, or a Viking!

Around and about

If country houses, friendly animals or simply enjoying the local brew are your idea of holiday heaven, then the Cranborne area can deliver.

The friendly giants of the Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park and Rescue Centre may be the stars of the show, but there are many more animals to meet at this family friendly attraction set in the lovely Dorset countryside.

A short hop down the country roads will find you in the picturesque village of Edmondsham, the local manor house is open to the public on selected days.  Discover the tranquil walled garden, usual octagonal Victorian dairy or simply stretch your legs with an estate walk taking in the bluebells woods in spring.

Known as 6d Handley to local residents, Sixpenny Handley with its pub, butchers and village shops is great to explore, particularly when the local brewery opens its doors!

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