Dorset's Important Geological Sites

Melbury Down

Melbury Down NGR ST898193

melburydown

Melbury Down forms one side of a deep valley system that is now completely dry. It is likely that this valley system was cut during the Pleistocene glacial events when north Dorset was experiencing a periglacial climate (i.e meaning next to or near to ice and similar to north Canada and Siberia today).

The Chalk, at present permeable, was at that time impermeable (water couldn’t soak in) because of the deep permafrost layer that existed (i.e. permanently frozen ground), and thus, in the brief summer vigorous melt-water streams would have cut these deeply incised valleys.

This valley system displays an outstanding set of interlocking spurs, when seen from the minor road leading from Compton Abbas airfield towards Ashmore Down.

Access : Unrestricted, but in general visitors should keep to the main footpaths.

Contact: Land Agent, the National Trust Regional Office, Eastleigh Court, Bishopstrow, Warminster, Wilts. BA12 9HW Tel:01985 843600

Parking : Lay-by at ST 914195 on minor road from Compton Abbas airfield to Ashmore Down

Size of Party : Unrestricted, but upper limit of 30 suggested

Educational Level : A Level\ University