The Four Villages
Of the South Tarrant Valley
The South Tarrant villages of Tarrants Crawford, Keyneston, Rawston and Rushton in Dorset lie at the southern side of the beautiful Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Beauty. Parts of Tarrant Keyneston and Rushton have Conservation Area status, reflecting their charm and recognised heritage value.
The villages are nestled along the River Tarrant which runs in a south westerly direction to join the River Stour just below Tarrant Crawford. With Tarrant Rushton at the northern end, the villages, or hamlets, are linked by a road which runs along the Tarrant valley. Being fairly flat, it’s a registered and popular cycle route.
Blandford Forum is 3 miles to the North West and Wimborne, 5 miles to the South East. Coming from Wimborne along the B3082, as you leave the 3-mile avenue of beech trees, the spectacular vista over the Stour Valley and beyond gives you the first glimpse of the Tarrant valley. As you wind your way down to the crossroads with the village road, Keyneston and Crawford lie to your left, Rushton and Rawston to your right.
The river Tarrant is seven and a half miles long. It is managed by Wessex Water, with support from the River Tarrant Preservation Society. Although the river is reduced to a stream in dry summers it provides a home to otters and kingfishers.
The fertile fields which surround the villages have been farmed with a mix of arable and animals by generations of family farmers.
Many traditional hedges have been preserved and native trees planted by the farmers. Footpaths and bridleways through and across the valley give charming views and peaceful walks or rides on horseback with buzzards and the occasional red kite circling above.
A growing number of hares are returning to the valley.
Tarrant Rushton Airfield is significant for the valuable role it played in World War II and remains with grassland between the runways.
At the Northern end of Tarrant Keyneston you will find Ashley Wood, an ancient woodland famous for its native bluebells. It is coppiced and managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust. Dormice, pipistrelle bats and a wide variety of birds have been recorded there. The Wood envelopes part of Ashley Wood Golf Course, which sits at the Northern most end of the parish.
Many of the traditional houses have good sized gardens which play an important role in the ecosystem of the valley. In addition, scented botanic gardens have been developed at Keyneston Mill for the production of perfumes. The parish council has planted Queens Copse along the B3082, opposite which an avenue of beech trees is planned to be planted in 2022 by Dorset Council as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy.