September 9th 2015

Come with us to Dorset find out how easy it is to be 'far from the madding crowd.' Our brand new Walk in this most pastoral of English counties explores the land that Thomas Hardy knew and loved. As soon as we step put of our hotel in Beaminster (Hardy’s Emminster) we are in the small towns and villages he used as a backdrop for his novels and poetry. Just a few minutes on the trail will see us dip down into quiet lanes between high green hedges. Hamlets and working farms unfold before us; thatched cottages – and even a thatched brewery – sit cheek by jowl with gracious Georgian buildings and manor houses, water mills and wayside inns. Our private tour of Mapperton House, a lovely 500-year-old building of golden Ham stone is a rare chance to see inside one of the main locations for this year’s new movie of Far from the Madding Crowd, directed by Thomas Vinterberg. It really is as lovely as it looks on screen. The home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, the gardens here are magnificent too, with stables, dovecote and chapel. We will also stay in Evershot (Evershead) a village high above the rolling Dorset countryside and we will dine in the historic Acorn Inn. The town of Bridport is a thriving and busy market town and its harbor at West Bay, with its extraordinary cliffs, is also the setting for Broadchurch, the hit TV drama. From there we take a boat trip to pretty Lyme Regis, just along the coast, where Mary Anning dug for her fossils, Jane Austen visited and where the harbour wall – the Cobb – found fame in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, starring Meryl Streep and adapted from the novel by local author, the late John Fowles chesil beachThe Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site offers up 185 million years of the earth’s history and our hike along the unique Chesil Beach, with stunning views, will take us to the unspoiled village of Abbotsbury and its Swannery. Established by monks in the Middle Ages on the edge of The Fleet lagoon, this is the world’s only managed colony of nesting mute swans. The finale of our Walk traces the life and times of Hardy himself. We visit the cob and thatch cottage where he was born, walk to the pretty churchyard at sleepy Stinsford (Mellstock) where his heart lies buried and see his townhouse in the county town of Dorchester (Casterbridge). Make sure of your place on what promises to be a hugely popular Walk in unspoiled rural Dorset. Read more about it on our website.

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