Off the beaten track and away from the tourists, sits the wide and open valleys of the Blackmore Vale. Mainly famous for its role in literature it has been immortalised by both Thomas Hardy and William Barnes. The four smaller rivers of the Cale, the Caundle Brook, the Lyddon and the Devilish all meet the main River Stour as it meanders through the chalk land hills.
It’s landscape is littered with evidence of occupation from the most ancient (Hod and Hambledon Hills) through the most influential (country estates and houses), industry (water mills), industrial demise (removal of railways) to the modern (flood defences). And yet still has the feel of isolation and separation from the busy lives the rest of the country lives.
The small market town of Sturminster Newton sits at its heart with Sherborne, Gillingham, Shaftesbury and Blandford sitting on its edge or just outside of its boundary (there is no official limit apart from that determined by topography). Other than those populated areas, it consists of hamlets and villages only slightly interrupted by two main roads, the A3030 and the A357.
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