Woods surrounding Hardy Monument handed to council

The Hardy Monument
Image caption The Hardy Monument will remain in the possession of the National Trust

Woods surrounding a famous Dorset landmark have been handed over to the county council.

Blackdown Woods, which surrounds the Hardy Monument, was bought by Dorset County Council from the Forestry Commission in the summer.

The Open Spaces Society had campaigned for it to remain in public ownership when the Forestry Commission planned to sell it to a private bidder.

Handover celebrations took place on Saturday at Portesham village hall.

The council bought the 117-hectare (290 acre) woodland for £355,000 in June 2010.

Natural England, West Dorset District Council and the Patsy Wood Trust also contributed to the costs.

'Richness of wildlife'

The land, known as Blackdown, lies within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at the highest point of the 17-mile (27km) South Dorset Ridgeway.

It overlooks the World Heritage Site of the Jurassic Coast as well as the Dorset Downs.

The Forestry Commission sold the site as part of its asset disposal programme.

Kate Ashbrook, the Open Spaces Society's general secretary, said: "Public access to this lovely area will be secure and Dorset County Council will manage the woods so as to protect their natural beauty and richness of wildlife in this spectacular Dorset landscape."

The Hardy Monument, near Portesham, was erected in 1844 in memory of Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy.

Sir Thomas, who was born in Dorset, was commander of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where Admiral Lord Nelson was killed.

This 72ft (22m) monument will remain in the possession of the National Trust.

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