Bob Stafford is handy with a camera.
Compton Abbas Airfield and Tidpit and Martin Down
Compton Abbas Airfield
Are you into small aeroplanes of all types proper ones the type with a propeller you are …… good then Compton Abbas airfield is for you. If you are a local or a visitor it is a visit to the past a relaxing few hours surrounded by wonderful scenery.
Originally opened in 1962 as the Shaftsbury Flying Club it did not as some assume serve as a base in either of the world wars, there is a large car park and all the buildings and facilities are excellent. Perhaps the best thing about it is that everyone is welcome it is a warm and friendly place to spend a few hours or more.
Situated 800 feet above sea level on top of the downs with superb views for 29 miles and a cosy bar and restaurant where you can get elevenses or afternoon tea. Open for flying from 9am to 6pm (5.30 in the winter) Restaurant is open 9.30 am to 5.30 pm (5pm in the winter). Just take your camera and enjoy the aeroplanes and relax.
The bar, restaurant is a long bright room with high glass windows providing a fine view of the comings and goings of the aircraft, and the countryside beyond. There is also seating outside for getting a little closer to the flying. The place is always busy but never feels crowded, and comfy chairs and solid wooden tables.
If you feel bold there are pleasure flights in a 1930’s Tiger moth or Piper Warrior a flight out to the Isle of Wight or along the Dorset coast, you might need to save up though prices start from around £100, but what a treat.
There is a Caravan site near by that makes an excellent base for exploring this part of the world. Advanced Motorcycle training is also based at the airfield see the website for details.
Compton Abbas Airfield, Ashmore, Salisbury Dorset SP5 5AP telephone 01747 811767
Tidpit and Martin Downs
Just 15 miles away from Compton Abbas airfield there is of the best areas for walking in the county Tidpit Down.
Over 3050 hectares of chalk downland that is in unspoilt condition. The wonder of this open country almost defies description. It is a gently rising area of open grassland often with areas partitioned for grazing sheep but this dose not spoil a thing. This is a real walk through early history with a superb selection of earthworks, Grims Ditch, Soldiers Ring. 10 round barrows and 3 long barrows. The best of all is the still impressive 1600 year old Bockerley Ditch stretching for over 3 miles and marks part of Hampshire Dorset border.
If you are a serious walker you can see part of the Dorset Cursus and Ackling Dyke Roman Road, even a settlement site at Gussage Hill. The wildlife is abundant with a variety of birds including yellowhammers and the rarely seen Nightingales, there are many butterflies including White Admiral, Purple Hair Streak, Silver Washed Fritillary the and many varieties of moths. The downs also support such botanical gems as the Milkwort this is at its best in May, Butterfly Orchids and Remember that the downs form parts of the RSPB and National Nature Reserves so remember to take care as you pass through.
There is one modern intrusion, well 1940’s anyway. It is a huge earth bank it is the remains of a firing range. The bank was there to stop stray bullets from over shooting the firing area, its an oddity but it spoils little of the beauty of the place.
The best car park is located on the A354 on the left 2.7 miles driving north west from the B3081 roundabout.