The clay vale landscape type is represented by the intimate and rural Marshwood, Blackmore and Halstock Vales. They have predominantly small pastoral fields of trimmed hedgerows and hedgerow oaks, with patterns of medieval settlement and clearance with a long tradition in dairy farming. Scattered farmsteads underpin the largely undeveloped and tranquil character.



Landscape change

  • Policy driven farming changes over the last seventy years have resulted in concentration of stock levels, limiting the availability of livestock to graze land of low agricultural, but high environmental value, such as wet pastures.
  • Some loss of hedgerow boundaries and particularly mature hedgerow oaks.
  • Loss of mature elms in 1970’s.
  • Intensification in farming leading to drainage and improvement of permanent pasture and further and loss of riparian vegetation.
  • Agriculture is becoming more market driven with intensification of production and farm diversification. Traditional agricultural areas are likely to diversity, resulting in the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential or industrial uses and the establishment of secondary enterprises. This may include establishment of commercial shoots or growth of novel crops such as biomass crops which could alter the sense of enclosure in the vale.
  • Some pressure for further expansion of settlements with new development altering the traditional form and character of small villages and scattered farmsteads.
  • Increasing road use could further diminish the rural tranquillity of the vale landscape.
  • Pressure to upgrade roads through additional kerbing and signage, for example to accommodate an increase in farm traffic size and numbers.
  • Some orchards have suffered from a lack of management due to wider economic forces.
  • Agricultural intensification through market forces threatens the remaining small-scale field patterns and traditional pastoral landscape.
  • Coppice management has become economically unviable in many woodlands.