Fly-tipped waste which was left at a secluded beauty spot and set on fire is the latest in a series of incidents of dumped waste blighting the countryside.

Firefighters were called to Lambert's Castle Hill, an Iron Age hillfort, near Marshwood last weekend where vandals had set fire to a pile of dumped rubbish.

The National Trust, which looks after the site, said there had been an increase of fly-tipping on its land.

It comes as it's revealed that there were almost 2,000 incidents of fly-tipping recorded across Dorset last year.

Lambert's Castle is a huge area of open space with great walks and sweeping views across the Marshwood Vale and out to sea. It is a scheduled monument which means it is legally protected because of its historical importance.

Leo Henley-Lock, countryside manager for the National Trust, said "We have noticed an increase of fly-tipping at our sites including at Lambert’s Castle.

"Fly-tipping is a frequent problem and the collection and removal of rubbish left on National Trust land is costly both in terms of time and paying to have rubbish correctly disposed of."

He added: "Our rangers and volunteers should be busy doing conservation work, not clearing up litter.

"We’re grateful to those members of the public who report fly-tipping to us or the relevant authorities.

"We’re working hard to look after these countryside sites. Leaving rubbish can not only cause significant damage to these special places, but can also harm birds, wildlife and livestock and is a safety concern to other visitors.

"As well as these major fly-tips we're also seeing more domestic litter being left at our sites. We’d urge anyone paying for waste removal to check their waste will be disposed of legally."

The 1,937 fly-tipping incidents in Dorset in 2020/21 are up four per cent from the 1,870 recorded during the previous 12 months, according to government data.

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council's Portfolio Holder for Customer and Community Services, said: “There has been a gradual rise in fly-tipping incidents for many years now, and we have been tackling this concern on many fronts.

“Our multi-agency SCRAP campaign informs people of their responsibilities when dealing with waste, and we have increased our enforcement activities across the county to identify, track down and prosecute offenders, with over 25% more fixed penalties issued specifically for fly-tipping compared with the previous year.

“Most fly-tips consist of household waste that can be taken to any one of our 10 recycling centres and disposed of free of charge, so there are no excuses for fly-tipping.

“It’s unsightly and both damaging and dangerous to the environment, and the actions of the lazy and selfish people who feel fly-tipping is an acceptable means of disposing of their waste are a drain on public funds."

Residents are being reminded of the importance of hiring a reputable company to dispose of waste correctly.

Report fly-tipping on the Dorset Council website or call 01305 221040.