Dad likes an Iron Age hill fort, he really does. Dorset has five of them, with Maiden Castle on the outskirts of Dorchester and Badbury Rings near Blandford being two of the best examples, and the ones we visit most. We may have groaned as children, as visiting either fort meant a huge walk - but we always had lots of fun pretending to either invade or defend the territory.
Badbury in June is special. Some of the surrounding fields blossom with poppies, creating a vista of red. From the hilltop, you’re able to walk down and through the fields which can’t help but evoke feelings of remembrance and gratitude – especially when seeing one’s own very free children enjoying the surrounding beauty.
The much photographed Beech Tree Avenue is also worth mentioning. It’s on the same Blandford Road as Badbury Rings, and, as the name suggests, it is a stretch of road flanked by beech trees. Planted by William John Bankes whilst a resident of Kingston Lacy as a birthday gift to his mother, Frances, there originally there were 365 trees on one side of the road for each day of the year and 366 on the other, for a leap year.
There are alternative, quicker routes to take from home to Blandford RFC to play a game of rugby. But this undulating and seemingly endless beech avenue is by far the best to take, especially in the autumn when the trees and golden and the sun is low.