Rolling vales


The Rolling Vales landscape type is found around the fringes of the Clay Vale landscape type in north Dorset.

Key Characteristics

  • rolling and undulating farmland forming the transition between the clay vale and the chalk escarpment/ridge landscape types
  • landform becomes more twisted and folded towards the foot of the escarpment
  • subdivides the vale in the north
  • the chalk escarpment forms a distinctive backdrop to the area
  • varied and irregular pattern of predominantly pastoral fields, copses, dense hedges and occasional arable fields
  • many scattered farmsteads
  • twisting hedge lined lanes with narrow verges
  • settlements are typically located at the foot of the escarpment or on elevated slopes overlooking the vale
  • frequent use of locally distinctive building materials such as limestone
  • many small streams and brooks
  • a tranquil, secluded and unified landscape

The Rolling Vales landscape type is an undulating transitional area between the low-lying vales and the high chalk, with the clay and greens and landform becoming gradually more enclosed, folded and twisted nearer the escarpment to form a series of rolling foothills. There is an abrupt level change between this area and the steep sides of the escarpment but towards the vales the land flattens out gradually. It subdivides the vale landscape in the northern part of the area. It has a varied and irregular pattern of small pastures, woodland, individual trees and dense hedgerows with the chalk escarpment being a prominent backdrop. It is more undulating and rolling than the vale landscapes. Duncliffe Wood and Pen Hill are both distinctive elevated ‘outliers’ of upper greens in this otherwise rolling landscape. There are often open views across the vales to the north where the hedgerow oaks are more a more distinctive feature than in this landscape partly due to the more open landscape of the vales. The twisting and hedge lined lanes have narrow verges often with high hedge banks. The smaller settlements like Fontwell Magna, Child Okeford and Shillingstone are typically concentrated along the spring lines at the foot of the escarpment with others such as Hazelbury Bryan and Okeford Fitzpaine on more elevated slopes. It is mainly a pastoral landscape with a few arable fields on flatter land interspersed between improved pasture and meadows. There are many small brooks, streams and damp flushes with numerous scattered hamlets and farms. The whole area has a tranquil, secluded and undeveloped character and feel to it. Parts of the settlement edges of both Motcombe and Hazelbury Bryan and the Young Offenders Institute at Guys Marsh all detract from local landscape character. The following are all key features of interest; Kingswood and Piddles Wood are both prominent areas of ancient woodland and Handford Park Estate and Child Okeford Manor are both planned country estates.

Management Objectives

The overall management objective for the Rolling Vales Landscape Type should be to conserve and enhance the diverse pattern of trees, woodland, hedgerow and small-scale fields, watercourses and narrow lanes. The conservation of the rural and tranquil nature of the area is also a key objective.

Key land management guidance notes

  • conserve and enhance any streams, ponds and marsh areas in the escarpment foothills.
  • any new planting should reflect the existing varied visual structure of woods, copses, hedges and trees
  • soften the impact of hard urban edges such as at Motcombe and Hazelbury Bryan e.g. using small-scale broad leaved native woodlands and/or natural regeneration.

Landscape Character Assessment Map

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