Valley of Stones National Nature Reserve



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The Valley of Stones NNR gets its name from the impressive series of sarsen boulders which tumble down the slope and floor of a dry chalk valley. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of a block stream, or boulder train, in Britain. Freeze/thaw conditions at end of the last Ice Age caused the sandstone rocks on top of nearby chalk hilltops to fragment and slump downhill by a process known as solifluction. There is evidence that the stones were used for local megalithic sites. The stones are set within a wider landscape of dry valleys and slopes of upper chalk, which includes extensive areas of fine calcareous grassland, rich in butterflies and wildflowers. Characteristic chalk downland plants such as salad burnet, small scabious, betony and wild thyme are abundant, with rarer plants such as clustered bellflower, autumn gentian and horseshoe vetch also present. Horsehoe vetch is abundant on the steep downland slopes, and is an important larval food plant for the two rare butterflies found on the reserve – the Adonis blue and the chalkhill blue.

Valley of Stones National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Dorset

Dorset means rugged varied coastlines and high chalk downlands. Squeezed in among the cliffs and set amid some of Britain’s most beautiful scenery is a chain of picturesque villages and seaside towns. Along the coast you’ll find the Lulworth Ranges, which run from Kimmeridge Bay in the east to Lulworth Cove in the west. Together with a stretch of East Devon, this is Britain’s Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, noted for its layers of shale and numerous fossils embedded in the rock. Among the best-known natural landmarks on this stretch of the Dorset coast is Durdle Door, a rocky arch that has been shaped and sculpted to perfection by the elements. The whole area has the unmistakable stamp of prehistory.

Away from Dorset’s magical coastline lies a landscape with a very different character and atmosphere, but one that is no less appealing. Here, winding, hedge-lined country lanes lead beneath lush, green hilltops to snug, sleepy villages hidden from view and the wider world. The people of Dorset are justifiably proud of the achievements of Thomas Hardy, its most famous son, and much of the county is immortalised in his writing. 

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