Things to do on the estate at Win Green
It's rewarding simply to explore Win Green on the South Wessex Downs with no fixed itinerary, making your own discoveries, but if you're someone who appreciates a few pointers of what to look out for, this top 10 list from Area Ranger Clive Whitbourn is for you.
Summer highlights at Win Green
Hunt for butterflies
In summer, these include the marbled white, adonis blue, chalkhill blue and green hairstreak. The blue butterflies have remarkably close relationships with the downland ants: as caterpillars they sing to the ants using low substrate sounds that mimic the ant as part of the caterpillars' parasitic approach.
The larvae and ants and live underground in anthills on the downland. You can see the anthills as bumps on the older patches of downland.
The sound of skylarks
This quintessential sound of the English countryside can be heard throughout the year, but particularly during the warmer months, as the birds ascend and hover over Win Green. See if you can also spot the corn bunting, meadow pipit, raven and red kite.
Hunt for waxcap mushrooms
Look out for waxcap fungi from late summer. These 'orchids' of the fungus world are easily seen from their bright red and yellow colours scattered among the grass.
Have a picnic
Spread out a blanket to lounge and eat and drink at leisure. Past picnickers might have included some of the ‘Bright Young Things’ of the Roaring ‘20s because a leading socialite of the time, Cecil Beaton, had his estate close by and spent much of his summer months socialising on the slopes.
More things to do at Win Green
360-degree views from the top
This is the highest point in Cranborne Chase, 911ft above sea level. Close to the beech clump, a topograph shows highlights of the surrounding countryside, from the nearby hilltop town of Shaftesbury to the Needles, more than 30 miles away on the Isle of Wight.
Explore the Ox Drove
Formed by drovers moving cattle over long distances, this is one of the longest and most ancient routes in the country. It links Axminster in Devon with Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, and is linked to the Wessex Ridgeway. It may also have been the route used to transport Portland stone to build Salisbury Cathedral.
Fly a kite
With plenty of high space, and usually a fine breeze blowing, the kite-flying conditions at Win Green are ideal.
Explore the beech clump
Whether you’re enjoying them artistically, in reminiscence of John Nash's painting Trees on a Hill, or playfully as a great spot for a game of hide-and-seek, the beeches are a real highlight.
Search for chalk downland wildflowers
These include the common spotted orchid, bee orchid and yellow rattle. Yellow rattle is crucial to this rare habitat as it is semi-parasitic on grass, so prevents the grasses from dominating and smothering wildflowers and herbs.
Just pause and reflect
The beauty of Win Green is that there is very little road noise, just the sound of birdsong and skylarks ascending above. Find an open spot, close your eyes, breathe, and simply let your mind wander.
Open expanses of flowery downland and far-reaching views
Iron Age hill fort with far reaching views and spectacular wildflowers
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