The Tarrant Valley, Dorset:
Lying in the heart of rural Dorset, the Tarrant Valley is a thriving rural community with enthusiasm for its agricultural roots. For visitors, it offers a truthful insight about rural life, as well as hearty local food, medieval villages and glorious walks.
The River Tarrant lies east of Blandford Forum, and the eight Tarrant Valley villages all bear the name of the river. In each village is a church dating as far back as the 11th century. If you’re fascinated in British heritage, the medieval buildings are lovely to visit – in particular, drop in to the St. Mary’s church in Tarrant Rushton, one of the most active churches within the community and home to three well-preserved and beautifully designed 14th century apertures. The church is also thought to have had a hospital located in the chantry for lepers during the medieval period and you can still see a leper window in the wall.
You can walk or cycle to a World War II airfield in Tarrant Rushton that, set at the top of the valley, has spectacular views over Hardy country. Officially closed in 1980, the airfield is now farmed, however some of the old buildings, and the runway still remain for you to see and walk along.
After all this exercise, it’s time for tea… Tucked away on a bumpy track from Tarrant Gunville is Home Farm Shop, which has a wonderful selection of food to buy in the shop as well a tearoom for a light lunch or an afternoon tea.
Where to eat…
You can’t pass through the Tarrant Valley without going to The Langton Arms in Tarrant Monkton. This 17th century thatched inn opposite the Norman church gives you a true sense of Dorset village life. All the food is homemade and sourced locally. Owners James and Barbara Cossins make a good team – James is a dairy farmer, supplying “Tarrant Valley Beef” for the Sunday roast, while Barbara runs the pub. You’ll find the locals are always up for a laugh and welcome visitors into their “Carpenters Bar”.
The True Lover’s Knot in Tarrant Keyneston has traditional pub grub and a rustic feel. There are many versions of how the pub got its name and the motif of three hangman’s knots, but the most popular story derives from a tragic love affair, which happened when the pub stood next to the old toll gate. It’s said that the pub landlord’s son started a secret affair with the lord’s daughter. When the lord discovered the truth, he threatened to send his daughter away. Overcome with grief, she hung herself from a tree on his estate, followed shortly after by her grieving boyfriend. In a deep depression and unable to cope with the pub without his son, the landlord followed suit – his ghost is said to still haunt the pub.
Where to stay…
The Langton Arms also owns a self-catered thatched cottage called Taddle Stones, which is a mere two-minute walk from the pub.
Nearby Launceston Farm, is a recently renovated B&B offering luxurious bed and breakfast on a working farm.
Did you know…
In medieval Britain the Tarrant Valley was run my monks.
View The Tarrant Valley, Dorset in a map