Category Archives: News/Blog

The Great Gold Hill clean-up is completed

Men at work: volunteers Doug Giberson and Richard de Camin with, right, Shaftesbury Town Council’s Mike Wakely spruce up the handrail posts

GOLD HILL is back! Nearly a year after clean-up work began on Shaftesbury’s iconic landmark, the final countdown began to reclaim The Hill from nature and leave it looking better than it has for a long time.

Volunteers Doug Giberson and Richard de Camin, along with Shaftesbury Town Council employee Mike Wakely, arrived early this morning armed with scrubbers, scrapers, sandpaper and elbow grease to rub down 23 oak posts that serve as handrail supports up the hill, followed by two coats of wood preservative.

A handrail has been on the hill since cars arrived, to stop them crashing into the retaining wall. There’s a photo in the excellent Gold Hill Museum from circa 1900 (right), and several others over the years – with differing numbers of posts.

One from the 1950s has none. But they were back when the Hovis advert was filmed in 1973, and have been there since. One informed source says the current oak posts have been there only 10 years. But we digress. The point is that the work on the handrail is the last act in 10 months of work funded by Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme, which has helped revitalise Gold Hill.

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Roll up for the biggest show in North Dorset

More reading: 11 brilliant reasons to visit Shaftesbury this summer

Update: Show jumping classes cancelled due to rock hard ground (Aug 6, 3pm)

THE annual migration of 25,000 people to the Motcombe Turnpike Showground takes place on Wednesday August 15 this year, such is the pulling power of North Dorset’s premier agricultural show.

The Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Show is the one that the farming community takes the day off for, with highly competitive sections for cattle, sheep, horses, dogs, poultry, rabbits, homecrafts, handicrafts, art and a huge range of classes for younger exhibitors, all need to be entered in advance.

This year, there’s a new Education Area – Farm, Food & Fun, which aims to show how milk, meat and grain are produced on local farms and how it eventually reaches the table, with lots of hands-on activities.

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Go glamping in North Dorset

SHAFTESBURY has a very good collection of hotels, cottages and B&Bs. But as the town sits on a hilltop, there isn’t a great deal of room to innovate with glamping options. Happily, there is a great deal of space in The Blackmore Vale and Cranborne Chase surrounding Shaftesbury – and there has been a considerable amount of innovation in recent years.

From a list of 12 options last summer, we have now uncovered 18 locations close to Shaftesbury which include a converted double decker bus, eco pod, shepherd huts with hot pools and luxury safari tents. Click on the map above to explore your options.

Many have spectacular views and settings, in oak woodlands, deer parks, kitchen gardens, equestrian centres and working farms. And they all add to the wealth of accommodation choices in North Dorset, alongside a number of AirBnB options. Come and stay in north Dorset for a short break, or a full family holiday: we’re halfway between London and Cornwall, just off the A303, and within easy reach of Dorset’s world famous Jurassic Coast.

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Where to find a food experience in North Dorset

Leakers Bakery in Bridport, Dorset, uses flour from Cann Mill, Shaftesbury


IT’S all very well having a nice meal, or enjoying a cold craft beer. But wouldn’t you also like to know more about how they are made – or make them yourself?

North Dorset is hotching with artisan food producers, with bread, cheese, cider, wine and charcuterie all produced within five miles of Shaftesbury. And not just staple foodstuffs: beef jerky, smoked trout and yerba mate drinks from nearby too.

Many are small producers and don’t have the resources to open their doors. But increasingly the option to get involved, to have ‘an experience,’ is on the table in North Dorset. Breadmaking, charcuterie courses, farmgate milk and open vineyards are all on the menu…. Check the locations on our map, right.

Read more:
* A 20-mile foodie cycling tour of North Dorset
* Buy milk direct from the dairy in North Dorset
* Where to find the best drinks in Dorset

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Shaftesbury: walk ancient trees with glorious views

AN EASY and LEVEL-ish walk around the hill top through trees and views. Most, except cobbles and steep parts (in italics) which can be avoided, is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Much of the walk is away from cars and you will meet dog walkers. You could easily walk it in 30 minutes.

Read a review of the walk, and listen to audio interviews from This is Alfred.com

1 START AT THE GUILD HALL at the bend in the High Street.

2 Taking care on the cobbles, you can go around the Guild Hall to gaze down Gold Hill, the view framed by receding cottages and the high, buttressed greensand wall. Then go along Park Lane, or direct from the High Street west into PARK WALK, a broad promenade with wide views over the Blackmore Vale to the south and Melbury Hill to the south-east. Nuns walked here from the 9th to the 16th century, around the Abbey founded by King Alfred for his daughter Aethelgifu. The under-town (sub-urb) of St James lies beneath the slopes.

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A 20-mile foodie cycling tour of North Dorset

SHAFTESBURY

A Google map of the 20-mile cycling tour of North Dorset

IN 1973, a young film director called Ridley Scott directed a TV advert that put the Dorset town of Shaftesbury firmly on the cycling map.

Not in a Bradley Wiggins sort-of-way, granted, but in a British nostalgia way. The film of a young lad pushing his Hovis bread bike up the cobblestones of Gold Hill to the haunting music of Dvorak’s Symphony No 9 seared into the memory.

Visitors still whistle the tune as they take photos from the top of the hill. The advert has been voted Britain’s favourite of all time. And Ridley did well too – he went on to film Aliens and Blade Runner, among others.

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Thomas Hardy in North Dorset

Sherborne was transformed into a 19th century fair for the 2015 film Far From The Madding Crowd

NORTH Dorset was a huge inspiration to Thomas Hardy. The principal towns, Shaftesbury and Sherborne, both feature heavily in his novels, with Gillingham also playing a supporting role.

In the surrounding countryside, the Blackmore Vale was the backdrop to his most lyrical writing about nature, with the honey stone village of Marnhull home to Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Indeed, Tess, Jude the Obscure and The Woodlanders – his last three novels – were all largely based in North Dorset.

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11 brilliant reasons to visit Shaftesbury in summer 2018

NORTH Dorset comes alive in the summer with a series of superb and well-established shows and festivals that reflect the region’s rich culture and agricultural history. Woodcraft, cheese, steam engines and heavy horses all have their own festivals, with celebrations of music, theatre and outdoors pursuits. Shaftesbury sits at the heart of these bucolic outbursts of pleasure, and is the natural place to base yourself to party.

We look forward to welcoming you to Shaftesbury this summer, #TheHighPointofDorset.

 

MAY 13
SHAFTESBURY FOOD & DRINK FESTIVAL

The Great Gold Hill Cheese Challenge. Photos, including above and below: James Thrift Photography

Watch grown men race up Gold Hill carrying 14” diameter truckles of cheese weighing 55lbs. Women and children race too, and a team relay event to boot.

The Cheese Races are the brainchild of Charlie Turnbull of the ubiquitous cheese deli in town – sadly, this is Turnbull’s last day in business, as Charlie seeks new adventures. So let’s make it cracker of a cheese day! Barnaby Cox won the men’s event for four consecutive years until 2017 – will he claim his crown back? Will the firemen take the team title?

The Cheese Races form part of a wider Food & Drink Festival: there will be 100 stalls the length of the town, featuring the Anonymous Travelling Market on Park Walk, as well as producers from The Dorset Farmers Market and Dorset Food and Drink in the High Street.

Live cooking demonstrations will be taking place outside Shaftesbury Town Hall at the ‘Chef’s on Stage’ demonstration kitchen, including David Griffin-Shepherd from La Fleur de Lys restaurant in town.

In addition, there will be live music in Swans Yard, medieval and Maypole dancing in the Abbey Gardens and the Shaftesbury Town Silver Band.

It’s all part of a day long festival of food, fun and frivolity – and it’s FREE! Details: Shaftesbury Festival

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Buy milk direct from the dairy in Dorset

SHAFTESBURY residents and visitors have the choice of another fresh-from-the-farm milk supplier, with Madjeston Milk Station opening at Newhouse Farm outside Gillingham.

Madjeston Milk Station

It’s the latest dairy farm in the area to install a vending machine filled daily with milk from the herd and pasteurised on the farm itself. The service opened last month, and is now available 24 hours a day – just turn up, put £1 in the machine and fill your re-usable litre bottle. Or £2 for two litres.

With farmers earning an average 30p a litre from commercial customers, being able to sell directly to customers for £1 is a great benefit. And the customers get creamy unhomogenised milk while supporting farmers who, at Newhouse, have kept it in the family since 1927.

Reports from farms that have installed the machines suggest sales of 60-70 litres a day, the figures doubling at weekends. Let’s say 500 litres a week, so an improved income of £350 a week.

Take out (generous) running costs of £100, and the start-up costs of building a shed for the vending machines, security cameras and so on, and farmers could pay off the cost of a £15,000 vending machine within two years.

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Shaftesbury, Dorset: these are a few of our favourite things

Johnnie and Tiggy Walker presented with a cheque for Carers UK by Giles Maling, general manager of The Grosvenor Arms, after a fundraising event at the hotel. Pic: Gillingham News


FIVE people who love Shaftesbury reveal the places they recommend to friends and family visiting the town and surrounds. Read their tips and check out the locations on our Google map

JOHNNIE AND TIGGY WALKER, DJ and producer

We consider ourselves very lucky to live in this beautiful part of the world and be part of this lovely little town. Here are the five things we would recommend:

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