Discover the mythical and magical pathways hidden beneath hedgerows in Dorset

  • ITV Meridian's Richard Slee explores hidden ancient holloways nestled away in Dorset

For those who know them, there is something magical about a set of sunken pathways in Dorset, which are now being mapped so more people can discover them.

The paths, known as 'holloways' have been created over centuries - worn into the soft sandstone which is common in the west country.

Leading the project is Andy Jefferies from Natural England who says: "We don't know where they are or the extent of them around the country.

"But if we want to conserve them, then we need to map and what we confirmed is what we initially suspected, that they created quite unique environmental conditions. Sheltered, stable temperatures and the perfect place for ferns and all sorts of other interesting species."

Andy's colleague Rosie Cummings says there is a wealth of information in the ancient lanes.

She said: "It's partly because of the geology, naturally eroding sandy geology, and the movement of people and water over centuries has produced these absolutely extraordinary cavernous spaces."

And many people have left their mark in the soft sandstone.

Carvings on the wall of the Holloways in Dorset Credit: ITV News Meridian

The Holloways snake through the Symondsbury estate - which is also famous for the views from Colmers Hill.

Catherine Woodward from the Education project on the Estate said: "It's just a really wonderful space.

"We are so fortunate, to be the custodians of the Holloways as it's a really unique thing we have.

"The ancient Holloways have been lost for a long time and now, with the Natural England project I feel they are coming back."

Credit: ITV News Meridian

The lanes will now be preserved for future generations to marvel at their beauty and their mystery.

However the secret holloways are perhaps now not so secret, with many more visitors expected to make their way through the pathways.

Guests can collect their trail maps from the visitor centre and find out for themselves what it's all about and perhaps even make their very own 'mark'.