Much of Dorset has been designated an AONB—an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty— and has some of the most beautiful and varied landscapes in England. The area is protected to conserve its diverse wildlife and celebrate our rich cultural heritage.  The AONB includes the Blackmore Vale, with Sturminster Newton at its heart.

The other areas of the AONB are: Dorset Downs; South Purbeck; Dorset Heaths; Marshwood and Powerstock Vale; Blackdowns; Weymouth Lowlands; Yeovil Scarplands.

Dorset is a great area for walking, cycling, fishing, playing golf and other sports.


Local walks

  • North Dorset Trailway (about 15 miles from Sturminster Newton to Spetisbury)  runs along the route of the old Somerset and Dorset Railway line and takes you through some picturesque villages of the Blackmore Vale. There are four sections you can currently visit that take you through some of North Dorset's spectacular countryside, towns and villages with views of Hambledon Hill and the meandering River Stour. The trail runs along a flat, surfaced 2-metre wide track suitable for push chairs/wheel chairs, horses, bicycles and walkers. You can join the Trailway from Station Road car park in Sturminster Newton.
  • Piddles Wood Nature Trail (1.5 miles) (photo shows Piddles Wood at bluebell time)
  • Sturminster Newton Walkabouts (7 walks from 1 to 5 miles)
  • Sturminster Newton Heritage Trail (2 miles)
  • River Stour Nature Trail (2.5 miles)
  • Walks4softies is a good site for choosing fairly short, easy walks.

 Longer walks

  • Wareham Forest Way (12 miles)
  • The Stour Valley Way (64 miles)
  • The Dorset Jubilee Trail (90 miles)
  • South West Coast Path National Trail (1—630 miles)         


Wander down through the meadow behind the cottages, over the stile and there’s the River Stour, stuffed with fish waiting to be caught.  For information on daily and weekly tickets, and the best spots, contact the Sturminster and Hinton Angling Association.  For 110 years Sturminster and Hinton AA have had fishing on over 10 miles of the Stour. With streamy shallows, deeper stretches and three weirpools, all major species of coarse fish up to specimen weights are there for the catching. 

You can store your fishing equipment in a secure shed next to the holiday cottages.


Cycling in Dorset is a lovely way to see what this county has to offer - from quiet country lanes weaving through picturesque villages and seaside towns to challenging off-road routes.

You can hire bikes from Dorset Cycles in Stalbridge (tel 01963 362476). 

You can also hire bikes and cycle in the forest, as well as enjoy lots of other outdoor activities,  at Moors Valley Country Park.

If you're bringing your bikes with you, we can offer storage in a secure shed next door to the holiday cottages.

Golf courses

Many Dorset golf clubs welcome visitors, including: 

  • Ashley Wood Golf Club, Blandford Forum
  • Moors Valley Country Park, Ringwood
  • Bullpits Golf Club, near Gillingham
  • Canford Magna Golf Club, near Wimborne

Swimming and Keeping Fit

Stur-fit (Sturminster Newton Leisure Centre)  has a gym with a range of equipment.

Blandford Leisure Centre has two swimming pools ,a gym, a sport hall, Nordic sauna, café and tennis courts.