Beech woodland in hoar frost, Cranborne Chase, Dorset
© Guy Edwardes/Minden Picture
Into the frost forest. Cranborne Chase, Dorset
This spellbinding wintry woodland is one many ancient forests found in Cranborne Chase, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stretching across four counties in southern England. To make it especially bewitching, the tree branches are coated in hoar frost, which forms when water vapour touches freezing cold surfaces and turns straight into feathery ice crystals.
Cranborne Chase covers 380 square miles of rolling chalk grasslands, ancient woods, river valleys and hills across Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset and Wiltshire. Inhabited since the Stone Age, in medieval times it became a royal hunting ground - which is where the ‘chase’ bit of its name comes from. Today, while Cranborne Chase is protected from most new development, it's not a wilderness. Nearly 90% of the land is used for farming and more than 30,000 people live here.