Wessex walking short break, England

“Discover the landscape that Thomas Hardy loved and wrote about on this short self guided walking break through rolling, unspoiled Wessex. ”


Two full day walks and one short walk | Cerne Abbas | Wessex Ridgeway | Bockhampton | Hardy’s birthplace | commentaries on features of interest | Stinsford | Dorchester | Ordnance Survey map, marked with route, and map case | pocket book to help identify common species | ensuite accommodation | full English breakfasts

Description of Wessex walking short break, England

This Wessex walking short break is three days of wonderful walking exploring the landscapes that Thomas Hardy described as ‘partly real, partly dream country’. Stay at a highly acclaimed, 350 year old small hotel in the hamlet of Lower Bockhampton in the heart of Hardy’s Wessex.

Enjoy three walks in the footsteps of Thomas Hardy through picturesque countryside that remains much as it was in his day. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that routes have been thoroughly researched and tested so you will not get lost. Each walk is expertly crafted and contrasting walks, personally researched by the company's founders and thoroughly checked. As the walks are self guided, you have the freedom to set off at a time to suit you, walking at your own pace and lingering as long as you like over lunch. Stay in delightful accommodation and enjoy some fine dining and good country pubs for lunch. We include short commentaries highlighting features of special interest, providing insight into the area’s history, culture and habitats and into the life and works of Thomas Hardy.

The routes are suitable if you enjoy average fitness and can walk around 7-9 miles each day on varied terrain for up to five hours with a break for lunch. You have the freedom to stop whenever you please on a self-guided walk.

Our recommended accommodation is a wonderful thatched cottage dating back to the 1660s, full of character with a thatched roof, fireplaces and beamed ceilings. With just eight ensuite rooms, it was once the home of the local shepherd. This small cottage is in the heart of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex. It is just a short distance from his birthplace, his old school and from Stinsford Church where his heart is buried. Its award winning restaurant has received many well deserved accolades. We can also recommend an excellent B&B in the centre of nearby Dorchester if you prefer a town setting with access to several good restaurants.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Arrive at your accommodation, settle in and read through your walks pack. We recommend fine dining at our highly acclaimed restaurant.
Day 2:Following a short drive or taxi ride, you set off from Cerne Abbas to reach the tiny hamlet of Godmanstone, the smallest in England, to cross remote rural landscapes where lonely hills meet distant horizons. This is Hardy’s ‘partly real, partly dream country': unchanged, still unspoilt, a landscape which inspired so much of his writing, and where today you can still find peace ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’. Our route takes you on to one of Dorset’s prettiest villages where flintstone cottages and a lively stream line the street. Pause to admire a lovely old church adjoining a venerable manor house before lunching at the popular Greyhound Inn. After lunch, a gradual ascent brings you to the final stretch of the Wessex Ridgeway. Then, approaching the village of Cerne Abbas, you confront, in all his naked glory, the striking figure of the famous Giant. Our notes guide you round this ancient village, taking in the delightful Abbey ruins, duck pond, church and cottages, with an opportunity for a cream tea before you return to Bockhampton. (Grade moderate: 9 miles)
Day 3:From the heart of Hardy’s Wessex, you’ll wander up to ‘the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath’, brilliantly described in its original form by Hardy in his novel, ‘Return of the Native’. Visit Hardy’s birthplace cottage, ‘between a heath and a wood’ and follow in his footsteps to reach ‘Mellstock Church’, the beautiful church at Stinsford where Hardy’s heart literally rests. Your pilgrimage continues to Hardy’s school and his favourite ‘embowered path beside the Frome’, still, today, as pretty as ever. This is Hardy’s ‘Vale of the Great Dairies’ and remains so today. Crossing ‘The Roman Road that runs straight and bare . . . across the heath’, you'll reach the glorious woodlands now known as Thorncombe Woods. Lush meadows surround Kingston Maurwood House with its impressive parkland and its Tudor manor, a possible refreshment stop before returning to Bockhampton. As you cross rolling hills and beautiful meadows, you'll enjoy the same views as Hardy, the same peace, the same glorious landscapes that were the inspiration for his great works. Lunch at Kingston Maurwood House. (Grade moderate: 7 miles)
Day 4:Today, if you have time, you can enjoy our self-guided tour of Dorchester which includes many of the locations described in Hardy's 'Mayor of Casterbridge'. Alternatively, you could follow this 2-hour walk on your day of arrival. The choice is yours.

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

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Wessex walking short break, England


Walking is the least carbon intensive way to travel and ensures that the environmental impact of our walking clients is kept to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we encourage the use of public transport; if that is unavailable we recommend local transport companies to reach the start of the walk. We aim to balance the environmental impact of travelling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local rural economy. We accommodate our walkers in a small local hotel or B&B, both family run and central to the life of the village. They employ local people and prepare meals from locally grown produce as far as possible.

In our small home office we recycle paper, cardboard, ink cartridges and printed material. We purchase recycled printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, labels, pens, toilet tissue, bin liners. We turn off printers, photocopiers, computers, battery chargers and transformers at the end of each day and avoid ‘screen savers’, use energy-efficient bulbs and low-energy appliances. We cut CO2 emissions by keeping thermostats at the lowest comfortable setting. We do not use tumble dryers nor take disposable plastic bottles to the countryside, instead promoting the use of water bottles manufactured by companies like Sigg.

We keep our customers informed electronically via email, electronic newsletters and our website. We encourage clients to remit their payments electronically via PayPal or by bank transfer.


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 restaurants we are patronising establishments which employ staff from the local rural community. On the Hardy's Wessex walking break we recommend local tearooms and souvenir shops for our clients to purchase gifts and souvenir books that will support the local community

We choose the best walks available which may not always start directly from a railway station or the B&B. Therefore provision has to be made to transport people to and from the start of the walks. To achieve this we employ local taxi companies. Over the years we bring repeat business to them.

Bringing people to a new region, arranging their accommodation and food, 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.

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