The west side of Dorset, as it prepares to meet Devon, has never been as popular as the better known east, so it is unspoiled walkers' country and, from its heights, miles of rich dairy land can be viewed. Pilsdon Pen, 909 feet above the sea, has landscape of sheer beauty at its feet.
Tall Pilsdon Pen is a foretaste of the Tors of Devon, treeless and formed on decaying granite, but neighbouring Lewesdon Hill, until recently thought to be 15 feet shorter, but now measured to be taller, has all the character of a Dorset height, curvaceous and green. Both look south with Channel views. Pilsdon is crowned with an Iron Age fortification, and Lewesdon is the highest peak of Dorset and both hills stand guard on the north slopes of the lush Marshwood Vale.
The Hill fort on Pilsdon Pen was excavated in the 1960's revealing late Iron Age huts, and parts of a probably medieval rabbit warren. The rectangular mounds inside the fort are pillow mounds, constructed for rabbits to breed in, and the square earthworks in the centre is probably also part of the warren. The earthworks just outside the northern end of the fort are the remains of an earlier rampart that was subsequently abandoned. The northern entrance is probably the only original one.
The tiny village of Pilsdon has the narrowest possible approach roads between high hedges down the side of the Marshwood Vale. The village still basks in the ancient glory in that it has a house where a Royalist judge, Sir Hugh Wyndham, lived. At the battle of Worcester, the future King Charles II fled from the field and his pursuers came to this house thinking he was hiding there. They ransacked it as Sir Hugh fumed and raged in the Hall. Intelligence was at fault, the prince being at Sir Hugh's nephew's house at Trent.
The little church of St. Mary is of undistinguished Victorian origins and is a chapel to the large 17th century manor house which lies beyond. The house is constructed in such a way that the front appears to be composed entirely of windows.
Nearby is Racedown Farm where Wordsworth first started to write seriously, and the Pildson Pen consoled his sister Dorothy, who pined for her Lakeland Hills.