Flying sites

We thought we would take time to introduce you to Dorset and explain why we love it so much.

When John Welch moved here in 1999 he established Flight Culture and made the most of the beautiful local flying sites this county has to offer. Since then John and his students have soared the skies and it’s hard not to fall in love with it when seen from above. We are lucky to have permission from a local farmer in Sturminster Newton to use his fields for our Paramotoring training and winching. From there it is only a 10 minutes to one of our best paragliding hill sites. Flight Culture is based in the Blackmore Vale area of Dorset known by readers of Thomas Hardy as the ‘Vale of the Little Dairies’, home of his heroine Tess, in his novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Thomas Hardy lived and wrote in Sturminster Newton so he knew this landscape and its people intimately. If you go to Dorchester you can tread the path of the Mayor of Casterbridge and see the site of the notorious Judge Jeffreys Bloody Assizes (now a restaurant) held in Dorchester in 1685.

The Poet William Barnes was born in Bagber near Sturminster Newton in North Dorset in 1801. His poems are seen as a valuable record of the old Dorset dialect and working people’s lives in the 19th Century.

High on the hill over the picturesque village of Cerne Abbas is the Cerne Giant, an 180ft high male figure believed to be an ancient symbol of fertility. It is has also been strongly associated by local people with fertility rituals. The giant is thought to be representative of the Roman hero Hercules, who was often depicted naked with a club in his right hand. Although we don’t have any flying sites directly over the giant, there is a great local pub that we sometimes visit.

We couldn’t talk about Dorset without mentioning The Great Dorset Steam Fair which is an annual show featuring steam-powered vehicles and machinery. The fair was founded by Michael Oliver, and has been held every summer since 1969; currently at Tarrant Hinton near Blandford Forum. At over 600 acres the showground is one of Europe ‘s largest outdoor event locations.

Bell Hill

Bulbarrow Hill is a 274 metre (900 feet) hill near Ibberton, five miles west of Blandford Forum and ten miles (16 km) north of Dorchester . The chalk hill is part of the scarp of Dorset Downs, which form the western end of the Southern England Chalk Formation. The hill overlooks the Blackmore Vale, and offers views of Dorset, Somerset , Wiltshire and Devon . Another feature of the hill is Rawlsbury Camp, a five acre Iron Age hill fort. Little remains of the camp except the twin embankments and intermediate ditch which surrounded it. The hill gets its name from the several barrows, or burial mounds, that adorn the hill. Additionally, a medieval track way crosses the ridge.

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Weymouth White Horse

The Osmington White Horse is a hill figure sculpted in 1808 into the limestone Osmington hill just north of Weymouth which is part of the South Dorset Downs, within the parish of Osmington. The figure is of King George III, who regularly visited Weymouth , and can be seen for miles around. It is 280 feet long and 323 feet high in size and is best viewed from the A353.

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Kimmeridge

Kimmeridge village stands on Jurassic shale cliffs. This is an area which is very rich in fossils; so much so they can be found whilst walking along the beach. It is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site which stretches from Orcombe Point near Exmouth in East Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in East Dorset, a distance of 95 miles and boasts rock formations such as Lulworth Cove, Chesil Beach and Durdle Door dating back 180 million years.

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