Things to do at Fontmell and Melbury Downs
Fontmell and Melbury Downs is a landscape for all seasons. Discover Bronze Age earthworks, take in spectacular views and admire the flora and fauna in this area of natural beauty.
Admire the archaeology
On your visit, look out for banks and ditches that are the only remaining visible signs of past civilizations on the high downs.
Discover Bronze Age linear earthworks crossing the landscape, or for subtle scoops on the slopes, which are Second World War defences.
Birds and birds of prey are frequent visitors to the downs. Buzzards circle as they soar on thermals to rise up into the air. Red kites, identified by their distinctive forked tails, are also becoming an increasingly common sight.
Look out for skylarks, too – they fill the downs with their trilling song as they begin marking out their territories in spring. These unremarkable-looking, small brown birds, sing as they fly higher and higher, until they're just a tiny speck in the sky.
See butterflies on the wing
Marsh fritillary butterflies overwinter as caterpillars, surviving winter frosts and wet weather by spinning silk nests on the ground.
The butterflies are some of the first to appear on the downs in spring, their wings like orange and yellow stained glass. They're just one of 35 species on the downs.
On a sunny day in May, it's possible to see small blue, green hairstreak, brimstone and many more species of butterfly.
Find out where you can walk your dog on Fontwell Down, an area of natural beauty with views across Blackmore Vale, and the things to be aware of when you visit.
Wild juniper has been in steady decline for decades and is also under threat from a root disease caused by a fungal pathogen. Find out how we’re saving the shrub at Compton Down.
The Forest School at Fontmell Down is a private woodland hired out exclusively for the use of schools and community groups. Find out more about the learning experience on offer.
Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.
Explore some of the finest landscapes in our care on coastal paths, accessible trails, woodland walks and everything in between. Find the best places to walk near you.
Discover an island, coastline and hidden gems. Explore a castle, cottages and a home inspired by an Italian palace. Dorset has everything you need for a fun filled visit, so start planning your day out.