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National Trust Buys Heathland Which Inspired Thomas Hardy

Upton Heath unburnt area in bloom late Aug 2011N HOAR

7:40am 6th November 2014

Slepe Heath, which inspired the work of Dorset writer, Thomas Hardye has been bought by the National Trust.

It's the largest area of Heathland the Trust has acquired for more than a decade, costing £650,000.

A former forestry plantation, the 240 acres are a haven for wildlife, attracting rare birds such as Dartford Warblers, nightjars and woodlark.

Along with rare wildlife, visitors to Slepe Heath, which rises 30 metres above its low-lying surroundings, are treated to breathtakingly panoramic views taking in Corfe Castle, Poole Harbour and the Purbeck Hills.

Laurie Clark, National Trust Purbeck General Manager, said: "Slepe Heath is somewhere you can get that little bit closer to a true wildness. It's a magical and wonderfully atmospheric place where visitors can experience Hardy's fictional Egdon Heath, the setting for the Return of the Native.

"Dorset's heathland is among its crown jewels in terms of both wildlife and landscape. By looking after Slepe Heath we can ensure that this heathland remains open and protected for everyone to continue to enjoy."

The previously separated Hartland Moor and the Arne reserve have been protected by conservation cattle grazing. This £650,000 acquisition, which was made possible by a legacy for the purchase of unspoiled countryside or coastline in Dorset, means that the two sites can be united into a single grazing area, as envisaged under the Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area announced by the Government in 2012.

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