Fauna, Flora & Geology

Wildlife in Cerne Valley

The rolling hills and chalk grasslands of the Cerne Valley supports a rich and diverse eco-system of flourishing wildlife, enjoyed all year round by locals and visitors alike.  Dorset Wildlife Trust’s very own headquarters, Brooklands Farm, has purpose-created habitats, including chalk grassland, a pond and an orchard.   Down-land flowers, such as the bright and beautiful yellow rattle, cowslip and kidney vetch can be seen in spring and summer.     

A stroll away from the Trust’s headquarters is Haydon Hill, a steep slope of unimproved chalk grassland nestled in the valley.  Barn owls, kestrels and buzzards are often seen gracing the skies surrounding this area, in search for voles and shrews.  Butterflies are also in abundance in the summer, with the colours of the common blue, marbled white and orange tip flitting around and adding colour to the landscape.

Dorset Wildlife Trust has an excellent website with more information about local flora and fauna in the Valley.


Cerne Valley and the surrounding area is noted for some beautiful butterflies.  Butterfly Conservation, Dorset  describes some of the species and reserves to visit.  A calendar of their events offers many exciting days out.



The Cerne Valley is underlain by Chalk and Upper Greensand materials deposited during the Cretaceous period some 90m years ago.  As the current shape of the landscape developed, the river valley has cut through the layers.  The nature of the geology also influences the location of fresh water springs which would have been used for drinking and the local brewing industry in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The chalk and flints to be found in the valley was widely used for building material and this can be seen in many of the historic buildings.  A more detailed story about the geology of the village can be read on the Cerne Historical Society website.

A Place of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is one of a family of protected landscapes in the UK, working to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of almost half of Dorset's countryside.

Rather than just one beautiful landscape to shout about, the Dorset AONB is a collection of beautiful landscapes - each with different histories, ways of working and stories to tell.  The Cerne Valley is proud to be a part of this heritage and is, indeed a place of outstanding natural beauty.  For more information about events and to hear the stories of Dorset's beauty go to: www.dorsetaonb.org.uk

The EuCAN Dorset Midweek Volunteers go out every Wednesday, with minibus transport available from Weymouth and Dorchester. They undertake a great variety of tasks ranging from building steps and boardwalks, clearing invading scrub from downland and pines from heathland, to dry-stone walling and hedgelaying. For more information please click here.

EuCAN also runs a Cerne Valley Community Landscape Project with volunteer groups working with skilled contractors every Thursday between September and March, aiming to open up and improve the chalk downland habitats between Lyons Gate and Charminster.. Everyone welcome!

To keep up with what is happening in the farming business in the Valley, please visit Dorset Farming Year blog here.

If you want to see a short video of other areas of Dorset, this is the place!

The Cerne Abbas Water Meadows



The Water meadows were created in the 17th Century and operated for over 200 years before the advent of farming machinery rendered them redundant.They are now maintained by the community and provide a peaceful haven for wildlife. A public footpath provides access nearby. The photo shows a view across the meadows to the Tithe Barn. For more details of the water meadows, please see here.