Straggle Tree in Tarrant Monkton

A STAGING post for shrieking buzzards, the blind old tree gropes up from the ridge. Whipped by wind, sparse grass pixellates to fields of green stretching as far as the eye can see.

This is Cranborne Chase, spilling out before us like a promised land. It’s hard to convey just how much space is out here – a pleasing patchwork of earth and sky and hedges and banks of grasses.

We’re miles inland, yet I think I hear the sea, as the wind strokes the birches. Several gulls swoop over ploughed fields, and then we meet a reservoir. At Strawberry Copse, enormous mushrooms loom at the entrance of a fairy avenue. We’re trying to work out what the crops are – beet, brassica, potato?

Berries reach up to rub old man’s beard. Teazles muscle in on the party. Apples still cling to trees. One leaf tumbles slowly down. Is there a footpaths officer at the council whose job it is to walk the length of this county’s glorious byways? Nice work if you can get it.

The Langton Arms is decorated with vintage scenes of life at Tarrant Rawston Farm from the ’40s and ’50s. We’re in the midst of a torrent of Tarrants – Tarrant Keynestone, Tarrant Hinton, Tarrant Gunville, Tarrant Rawston, Tarrant Rushton, Tarrant Launceston.

Here, a ford can swell up five feet high when it floods. No wonder the locals are cruising round in 4x4s.

A clutch of friendly hens keep placid sheep company. Horses poke their heads over gates. This village is gorgeous. Oh my God – there’s a cottage for sale! Built in the 18th century, it used to be the village bakery. We check it out on RightMove. It’s on the market at a heartbreaking £595,000. Better buy a Lottery ticket…

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