Hardy Monument heath and grassland plans announced

The Hardy Monument
Image caption The Hardy Monument remains in the possession of the National Trust

Plans to restore heath and grassland surrounding a Dorset landmark have been announced by Dorset County Council.

The land, known as Blackdown, surrounds the Hardy Monument and lies within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The council bought the land from the Forestry Commission in June 2010.

The plans include maintaining woodland for timber production and restoring open areas which contain archaeological remains dating back to Neolithic times.

The plans are available for the public to give their feedback.

'Fantastic place'

Dorset Countryside, the county council's ranger service, manages the site.

Lawrence Weston, the area ranger, said: "Blackdown is a fantastic place to visit all year round.

"There is the heathland - wild and exposed, and the woodland - sheltered and mysterious.

"The site is scattered with archaeology, reminding us of times long past and all of this is set in a stunning landscape, commanding views over much of West Dorset to the coast."

The council bought the 117-hectare (290 acre) area land for £355,000, with the support of Natural England, the National Association of AONBs, Patsy Wood Trust and West Dorset District Council.

The site, at the highest point of the 17-mile South Dorset Ridgeway, is dominated by the 72-foot-high Hardy Monument, which is owned by the National Trust.

The monument was built from Portland stone in 1844, in memory of naval commander, Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, who lived nearby in Portesham.

Copies of the plans are available at Dorchester Library and from the Forestry Commission Regional Office in Exeter.

All comments need to be submitted by 20 September.

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