So close to Shaftesbury - only 1.7 miles from Shaftesbury's main Royal Chase roundabout but in a completely unspoilt rural setting. Regarding going out to pubs, restaurants, shops and so on, a car will be needed.
Closest beaches are about an hour's drive at Poole and Sandbanks.
Should you decide to visit the nearby Jurassic Coast area with the SW Coastal Path parallel to the coast - you can visit places like Lyme Regis, Weymouth,Lulworth Cove, Swanage, Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre with its Fossils (1 hr 17 mins), West Bay (ITV's Broadchurch fame), Highcliffe Castle at Christchurch Studland Beach and Nature Reserve - with Old Harry Rock, Brownsea Island Country Park & Nature Reserve near Poole.
Then there are sailing places about 1 hour 15 mins away with delightful Market towns such as Lymington (a must on a Saturday for the large Market in the High Street), and the Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve. Here the Reserve covers 500 acres and you can walk on a shingle pathway for 5 miles from one to the other across mudflats and salt marshes (child's buggie friendly). A mass of wild birds and gulls as well as moored yachts in the river. There is also a pub at Keyhaven called The Gun Inn to begin or end your walk!
Turn right out of the pub at Keyhaven and drive for 4 mins and you can park near the shingle bank called Hurst Spit that leads to Hurst Castle with amazing views of the very close Isle of Wight, that is only 1¼ miles away. A little wooden bridge to the Spit is often frequented by many children crabbing in the summer. No swimming off Spit as can be very dangerous currents.
BIRD WATCHERS PARADISE
The following birds were spotted here between 20th and 23rd April 2012:
Moorhen (nesting), Little Grebe (nesting), Tufted duck, Mallard, Common Buzzard, Raven, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Jay, Magpie, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Wren, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Pheasant, Green Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit (nesting), Chiff Chaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Tree Creeper, Dunnock.
- close to Pond cottage - Dorset Wildlife Trust & The National Trust.
Compton Down & Melbury Hill South - This area is renowned for its eclectic display of early purple orchids and a sea of cowslips. The anthills are coloured with wild thyme and squinancy wort and may be crowned with thyme-leaved sandwort or crested hairgrass. Here also is quaking grass, crested dogstail and glaucous sedge. Melbury Hill North has clustered bellflower and bee orchids and autumn ladies tresses. Exceptional numbers of Adonis blue butterflies are predictable each June and September. Here also are seen Stonechats and wrens as well as sparrow hawks and buzzards. Grasshoppers and day flying moths such as the wood tiger, mother shipton and the black and reds of the burnet and cinnabar moths are bound to excite you when spotted. Also close by are Melbury Down, Fontmell Down & Harding's Down, are classic chalk downland turf with over 90 species of flowers and grasses present and in summer the profusion of flowers and butterflies gives you a glimpse of what was once a familiar site in the countryside. It is fitting that the National Trust bought this land in 1977 in the memory of Thomas Hardy the writer and poet (Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D'Urbevilles etc). The Curlews & Burys (frog orchids, pyramidal orchid, viper's bugloss and silver spotted skipper and marbled white butterflies abound in fact 35 different species of butterflies can be seen here.) Catswhisker, Littledown (Duke of Burgundy butterflies seen if lucky), Brandis Down & Jerry's Hole (birds nest here including blackcap and garden warbler), all being close to an excellent pub/restaurant called 'The Fontmell' at Fontmell Magna. (1.8 miles from the cottage by car on the A350).
Very close by on Melbury Down traces of Bronze Age field systems are discernible with a singular burial mound at the top of the slope just before Compton Abbas airfield. Note also the large and impressive Ranch Boundary, bank and ditch on the sloped of Melbury Hill to the north. The visible remains of prehistory can be seen by the two cross dykes found within the site. One dyke breaches the western fence line of the Curlews whilst a second known as Tennerley Ditch runs in an east/west direction within the wooded slopes of Catswhisker. These 2 dykes form part of a larger system of five cross-ridge dykes constructed in close proximity across this western upland spur of Cranborne Chase. They were constructed during the Middle Bronze Age period (2,000 to 500 BC) and it is thought that they were territorial boundary markers as well as cattle drove ways or defensive earthworks. Iron Age hill forts of Hambledon and Hod Hill stand proud in our Blackmore Vale.
OUTSTANDING CONSERVATION AREA
Fontmell and Melbury Down is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, lying in the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is part of the South Wessex Downs Environmentally Sensitive Area. It has gained European status since being designated a Special Area of Conservation in respect of its large number of endemic early gentians which flower in May. It is also a regionally important Geomorphological Site for the significance of Melbury Hill (seen from Pond Cottage) and the interlocking spurs of Melbury Down