Dorset weekend walk, Hardy's Wessex

Description of Dorset weekend walk, Hardy's Wessex

A weekend of wonderful walking exploring Hardy’s Wessex, based at a 350-year-old thatched hotel with just 8 rooms. The hotel is located near Thomas Hardy's birth place in Bockhampton, the inspiration for his village of Mellstock in 'Under the Greenwood Tree'.

Enjoy

• two expertly-crafted, contrasting guided walks in some of England’s most beautiful countryside, personally researched and led by us
• all the creature comforts of excellent accommodation combined with award-winning fine dining and good country pubs for lunch – a highlight of our days out!
• a very warm welcome and the congenial company and camaraderie of our friendly small groups (maximum 10), comprising a mixture of singles, couples and friends
• short commentaries highlighting features of special interest, ancient and modern, natural and man-made, to both entertain and provide insight into local history, culture and habitats. Thomas Hardy, his novels and poetry will feature as we tread in his footsteps through countryside that remains much as it was in his day.
• an enhanced sense of well-being that a few revitalising days of peace, fresh air, exercise, scenic beauty and close contact with nature gives you, leaving you refreshed, relaxed and restored

What to Expect

Grading of Walks: The routes are suitable for anyone of average fitness, able to walk around 7-8 miles each day on varied terrain for up to 5 hours with a break of approximately 1 hour for lunch.

Accommodation: Our thatched hotel was once the home of the local shepherd and the keeper of the water meadows. It's surrounded by rolling fields, a step away from Hardy's birthplace and across the road from his old school. It has a well-deserved reputation for its excellent, award-winning food and enthusiasts travel long distances for the experience.

Travel Information

By rail: trains twice an hour from London Waterloo to Dorchester South (2.75 hours); the hotel is just 2 miles from historic Dorchester, a short taxi ride.

By road: total mileage from central London: 130 miles (3 hours). Parking at the hotel. We may be able to arrange car-sharing or taxi-sharing if required.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:A welcome meeting with a glass of good cheer followed by a memorable dinner at Yalbury Cottage's acclaimed restaurant.
Day 2:After a short drive, we set off from the tiny village of Godmanstone, the smallest in England, to cross a remote rural landscape where lonely hills meet distant horizons. This is Hardy’s ‘partly real, partly dream country’, unchanged, unspoilt, a landscape which inspired so much of his writing and where today we can still find peace ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’. Our path takes us on to Sydling St Nicholas, one of Dorset’s prettiest villages where flintstone cottages and a lively stream line the street. We pause at a lovely old church adjoining a venerable manor house before lunching at the popular Greyhound Inn. After lunch, a gradual hillside ascent brings us to our final stretch along the Wessex Ridgeway and our last village. Then, approaching Cerne Abbas, we confront, in all his naked glory, the striking figure of the famous Giant. We tour the ancient village, taking in the delightful Abbey ruins, duck pond, church and cottages, followed by tea before our return to Dorchester. (Grade moderate: 8 miles)
Day 3:From the very heart of Hardy's Wessex, to 'the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath', we visit Hardy's birthplace cottage, 'between a heath and a wood'. Following in his footsteps we reach 'Mellstock Church' at Stinsford where, literally and metaphorically, Hardy's heart is, and where there still lingers in the setting something of his creative spirit, remaining today what it was for Hardy, 'a Gray's Elegy sort of place'. Our pilgrimage proceeds to Hardy's first school and his favourite 'embowered path beside the Frome', still, today, as pretty as a picture. Then across 'The Roman Road that runs straight and bare . . . Across the heath' to the lush meadows of Kingston Maurwood House and its Tudor manor before returning to Bockhampton nestling amongst rolling fields and beautiful downland. Enjoy the same views as Hardy, the same peace, the same glorious landscapes that were the inspiration for his great works. (Flexible length of walk today which can be shortened for those wishing to depart after lunch).

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Dorset weekend walk, Hardy's Wessex

Environment

By encouraging walking, the least carbon intensive way to travel, the environmental impact of our walking groups is kept to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we encourage the use of public transport wherever possible. We provide our clients with details of public transport and generally a number of people travel to and from our walks by train. Those who continue to travel by car are encouraged to participate in our car-sharing scheme to reduce the number of vehicles making the journey to the weekend venue. We aim to balance the environmental impact of travelling with the immense benefits sustainable tourism can bring to rural destinations and to local economies.

In our small office we recycle as much as possible, in particular paper, cardboard, ink cartridges. We are constantly alert to ways in which we can improve our recycling practices. We purchase recycled printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, labels, pens etc. We reduce energy use through our ‘switch it off’ campaigns, turning off printers, photocopiers, computers, battery chargers and transformers, and personal gadgets at the end of each day. We further conserve energy by avoiding the use of ‘screen savers’ on our computers. We use only energy-efficient bulbs and opt for low-energy appliances wherever possible. We are meticulous in conserving water and during winter months cut our annual CO2 emissions by maintaining heating thermostats at the lowest comfortable setting, preferring to wear extra layers rather then turn up the thermostat. We discourage the use of disposable plastic bottles in the countryside, instead promoting the use of water bottles manufactured by companies such as Sigg.

It has been our policy for some years now to avoid printing unless it is absolutely necessary. We do not print brochures or other promotional material, preferring instead to keep our customers informed electronically via email, electronic newsletters and our website. PDF’s are available for printing from our website for individuals requiring printed information.

Community

We endeavour to balance the environmental impact of travelling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local economy. In choosing to lunch at local inns such as the Hare & Hounds at Sydling St Nicholas, we are patronising establishments which employ staff from the local rural community. We work closely with the management to ensure the smooth running of lunch breaks, obtaining menus in advance and pre-ordering. Thus lunches are served in good time, tables are reserved, the management expects and welcomes our party and our visit benefits the local economy.

We support local hotels in Dorchester and surrounding districts such as Lower Bockhampton as well as local restaurants. The establishments we use have environmentally-friendly policies in place.

We choose the best walks available which may not always start directly from our accommodation. Therefore provision has to be made to transport people to and from the start of the walks. To achieve this we employ local minibus and taxi companies. Over the years we bring valuable repeat business to them.

Bringing people to a new region, arranging their lunches, and sometimes teas, transporting them from place to place, walking the ancient footpaths, visiting their pubs and teaching through carefully researched commentaries something about the area’s rich history, culture and folk law, has the effect of giving people a sense of community with the place. People often return on their own or with friends, visit the same pubs and renew their sense of being at one with the beautiful local countryside.

Landscape

We provide carefully-researched and crafted walks in the special landscapes of the UK, promoting appreciation, respect and enjoyment of the countryside through informative commentaries. These commentaries relate to history, rural life and traditions, flora and fauna, geology and literature.

Many of our walks take place in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and visit National Trust properties. We describe the views to be seen from the high points and our walkers always enjoy seeing the distant route they took earlier in the walk. We always explain something of the history of the area we are visiting and introduce into the walks topics of a literary nature such as poems, references to writers associated with an area and examples of the soothing power of nature.

There are usually features of architectural interest and geological interest. For example, we may stop to explain about the chalk downland turf or archeological features such as barrows and earthworks and explain how the land we see today has been shaped by the past. Or we may talk about a National Trail, its history and its significance today. We include references to the economic importance of, for example, chalk, hardwood, coppices.

The countryside of the UK's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an inspiration to all who visit and walk in it and our clients are unfailingly impressed by its beauty.

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