DORSET

Followers of T.E Lawrence (of Arabia fame) know Dorset as the home of this intrepid character. His house - Cloud's Hill - is near Wareham. The county is also Hardy Country, and in Higher Bockhampton is the cottage where Hardy was brought up and wrote 'Far from the Maddening Crowd'.

Picturesque Lulworth Cove is worth a visit, while the fancy 17th century Lulworth Castle [SY 853822] has been restored. The 12th century Sherborne Old Castle [ST 647167] is associated with Sir Walter Raleigh who gallantly soaked up puddle water with his cape so that Elizabeth I didn't spoil her trainers. Oliver Cromwell destroyed the Old Castle after laying siege to it. Clumsy. However, Sir Wally's second castle - Sherborne New Castle - still remains today, across the nearby lake.

One of the most impressive sites in Dorset is a castle without walls. It's the iron age hill fort of Maiden Castle [SY 670885] near Dorchester. This earthwork structure is quite simply enormous, though that didn't preserve its defenders when the Romans got piqued and decided to pay an unwelcome visit.

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