Be welcomed with tea and biscuits and a chat under the apple tree. You’ll soon fall in love with Lottie (the border terrier) and your host June. The setting is idyllic: a cottage garden, a shepherd’s hut in a field, birds and butterflies and woods beyond. All is prettily decorated: June loves kilims and antique china and there are plenty of books. She offers guests two bedrooms on the ground floor (one with bunk beds) and a third upstairs; the shepherd’s hut, surrounded by nature and with stunning views is the perfect hideaway for two and you can add extra beds or tents. Breakfasts of crispy bacon, locally baked bread and eggs from known hens can be taken in the dining room or on the terrace when fine. This is the Blackmore Vale – Thomas Hardy’s ‘Valley of the Dairies’. Many have gone, but you can still see cows dotted around the villages, including Stour Row. Stride across the fields to Duncliffe Wood; gaze on the views to Melbury Down; explore Shaftesbury Abbey museum and garden; have supper in the King’s Arms in the village.