Tess of the Vale is a site that explores the Dorset countryside for everything it is worth. Taking the form of walks, runs, hacks or bike rides it appreciates small individual area’s landscape, history and geography whilst investigating any legends too.
The purpose of Tess of the Vale is to help us appreciate, understand, respect and love our land around us. But also to inspire, motivate and excite people to be involved within it. This can then help our own well-being while also supporting the conservation of our environment. The adventures also include local businesses, providing people with another reason to visit these otherwise isolated locations.
Maps identify the places spoken about. These are all hand drawn, simply designed and user friendly. The routes are clearly explained and treasure of many sorts can be found along them. They are more up to date than OS maps, and show many tracks and earthworks the OS have missed!
If there are any areas you’d like to see visited, please let me know. I sometimes venture out of Dorset too!
I would love to hear any feedback too, good or bad!
A collection of Tess of The Vale walks are also available from Dorset Life Magazine and Hall and Woodhouse Dorset Pubs
I grew up in Dorset and have always felt it hard to leave. My youth was spent building dens and being on the bike while avoiding farmyard accidents and rogue animals – still got the scars.
I’ve worked for the Tourist Information Office in Dorchester, the West Dorset District Planning Office and Natural England, all covering use, development and conservation of our landscape. I was an Adventure Instructor, for children and adults, and a Fields Studies Instructor teaching environmental elements of the national curriculum.
I have volunteered for the West Dorset Countryside Field Team, the North Dorset Countryside Rangers and the Dorset Coast Forum. At university I studied Heritage Conservation and continued my studies to complete a Masters in Landscape Archaeology.
Most recently I worked for the MOD drawing Admiralty navigational charts and have written a number of articles for Dorset Life magazine as well as our own village magazine (the village currently in the process of producing a book!)
I adore the stories and tales that have occurred in Dorset, true or not, and discovering evidence for them in the landscape. I love the mystery and intrigue that seems to be found in every lump and bump and round every corner. Even just to open my eyes a little wider to see its beauty and be in awe of it all, appreciate clues and signs the countryside is trying to tell us. I believe my background gives me a unique and in-depth view of Dorset, it’s history and its use today, and it’s this view I’m keen to share.
Personally, I am a busy, single mum to three boys, who want nothing more than to be outside getting muddy. Going out into the the depths of the hills and valleys is my also my escape, my sanctuary too. I would happily live in my campervan, but would miss my chickens, my cat would hate it and, to be honest, it can get a bit cold.
My passion is the landscape, my interest is history and my love is for Dorset. I want to enjoy it. I want to share it. I want to protect it. All of this combined has led to the development of Tess of the Vale.
Me and my boys.
As featured in the media:
The Natural Navigator – Tristan Gooley
BBC South 07/05/2021
BBC West 19/06/2021
BBC Spotlight 05/05/2021
10 thoughts on “About”
What a good idea! I’ve walked around quite a lot of Dorset but I bet there’s still plenty of places I haven’t yet. “Rempstone” stone circle on the Studland/Corfe road is not very well know but worth a visit. My brother did Admiralty charts for the MOD for many years after which he worked at Ordnance Survey in Taunton doing a similar thing.
Thank you. Sounds like your brother and I have lots in common!
Just come across your site through Twitter. Can’t wait to get back to Dorset. You are so lucky to live where you do. Looking forward to following your posts.
Thank you, Dorset is lovely! Enjoy the walks, would love to hear how they go!
Thank you for your posts. I would love to be notified when you write another one.
Hi Sarah, if you follow my page you should be notified when I do a new walk. I am also planning a better updating service, so watch this space! Happy to hear you are enjoying them. Thank you
Hi have you explored around the Woodlands, Holt and Horton areas in any detail? There are barrows, (not as much as around Bokerley). I think because its soils are heathy, which effected its land use, this area has tended to be neglected to antiquarians. About 7 years back I did a walk with my Dad out of Verwood, and I was amazed how quickly it became remote. If folklore is to be believed, The Duke of Monmouth hid here before his capture.
Hi, no, I haven’t, but I have planned a route to do there one day. You’re right about the Duke of Monmouth. I think the pub The Monmouth Ash in Verwood is evidence of that legend!
There is a tree marked ‘Monmouth’s Ash’ too on the maps, but I think its on private land