Highlights

  • Visit Thomas Hardy's birthplace and the town house he designed and lived in until his death
  • Enjoy a private tour of the lovely home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, a location in the 2015 Far From the Madding Crowd movie
  • Visit the world's only managed colony of nesting mute swans
  • Hike a spectacular stretch of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
  • Visit a privately owned former watermill with a special garden in a tiny hamlet and have a cup of tea with the owner

It really is still possible to be Far from the Madding Crowd in rural Dorset. Thomas Hardy used the towns and villages he knew and loved for the backdrop to his novels and poetry and we follow in his footsteps to find a landscape where little has changed in a century or more. We hike quiet lanes, past thatched cottages and through delightful villages, market towns and tiny harbors. We visit a traditional family brewery and taste the ale! We get a magnificent view from the sea of the 185 million years of the earths history in the stunning Jurassic Coast cliffs and coast.

Sunday Overnight: BridgeHouse Hotel

Rendezvous at Crewkerne Station and transfer to Bridge House Hotel, Beaminster. Welcome Drink and Dinner in hotel.

Monday Overnight: BridgeHouse Hotel

We leave our hotel in the heart of Beaminster (Thomas Hardy's Emminster) and transfer through the deep, green, Dorset lanes to Nettlecombe, a quiet little hamlet of stone cottages. We are deep in Hardy country here and we set off for the pretty village of Powerstock (originally Poorstock). We walk through this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty continue via West Milton to lovely and historic Mapperton House, the home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, which was used as a location for the latest Far From the Madding Crowd movie. After lunch in the old sawmill, we are taken on a private tour of the house. We have time to wander the beautiful grounds and then walk back to our hotel. Before dinner in the hotel, we enjoy a rendition of the poetry of Hardy and of Dorset poet William Barnes from an expert and get to hear more of the old local dialect.

Tuesday Overnight: BridgeHouse Hotel

We transfer just a few miles towards the coast to Bridport (Hardy's Port Bredy). A thriving, busy market town, we take a tour of the UKs only thatched brewery, still brewing cask ales after more than two centuries. We then walk in pleasant fields by the River Brit to West Bay “ Bridport's harbor. The top rating TV series Broadchurch is filmed here and the iconic golden cliffs are a wonderful sight. We take a boat ride (weather permitting) westwards to Lyme Regis, for amazing views of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site from the sea. After lunch in pretty, old-worlde Lyme we take a Literary Trail around the town and see the famous harbor wall, the Cobb, immortalized in the movie The French Lieutenants Woman, starring Meryl Streep. This evening we have dinner in a local restaurant in Beaminster.

Wednesday Overnight: BridgeHouse Hotel

Today we head eastwards, for a day of big views and an exhilarating hike along the Jurassic Coast. We transfer to Swyre and hike towards the ocean at West Bexington. Here we walk along the Chesil Beach, a bank of pebbles stretching from Portland to West Bay. For much of its length it is separated from the mainland by an area of saline water called the Fleet Lagoon. We will see Pillboxes which are remnants of WW2 defenses, as this area was considered one of the parts of the south coast most vulnerable to invasion. At the ancient village of Abbotsbury we are in for a treat: a visit to the Swannery, the world's only managed colony of nesting mute swans. We have lunch in the colonial style restaurant at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, a lush oasis of rare and beautiful plants and trees. Then we climb up out of the village to the high ground and the South Dorset Ridgeway, a trail passing some of the UK's most significant ceremonial ancient landscapes - and with wonderful views of the coast and lagoon. We transfer back to our hotel for dinner.

Thursday Overnight: Summer Lodge Country House

Today we follow in the footsteps of Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles and set out from our hotel to retrace her walk from Emminster to Evershead to Evershot. We will follow footpaths and lanes across countryside in many ways changed little since Hardys time. We lunch at a traditional country pub to break our journey and continue to find our hotel in Evershot. We dine at the historic Acorn Inn (The Sow and Acorn according to Hardy) on the main street, lined with lovely old homes including the charming Tess Cottage, next to the church.

Friday Overnight: Summer Lodge Country House

Today we trace the life and times of Thomas Hardy himself, see the area where he was born and lived, and how he used real locations in his beloved Dorset to provide the backdrop for his novels. We transfer to Puddletown and discover why it was so renamed and on the way get a sight of the local giant! We visit the cob and thatch cottage where Hardy was born and walk to Stinsford, where, in the delightful little medieval churchyard, his heart lies buried. We then proceed to Dorchester (Casterbridge), the county town, and visit the museum to see the Hardy collection. After lunch we walk to Hardy's house, Max Gate, the town house and garden he designed. We transfer to our hotel, for our Farewell Dinner.

Saturday

The Wayfarers will transfer you to Dorchester South Rail Station for your onward connections.
Moderate
"It's fabulous; you meet interesting people, so well-planned, such fun"
Terrain: Pastoral countryside, coastal walking, village lanes and some hills. 7-12 miles walking per day.

TRIP DETAILS

6 nights from
$4,495.00
Per person, double occupancy
(Single Supplement $565.00)
Our Wayfarers friends Price is $4,270.00

Dates

Request booking
Arrival: Crewkerne Rail Station
Departure: Dorchester South Rail Station

Activities

Walk Culture
Thomas Hardy's Dorset Map

Hotels - Where we stay

BridgeHouse Hotel

BridgeHouse Hotel

In the heart of Beaminster (Emminster in Hardys Wessex), 700-year-old BridgeHouse is a Dorset country house hotel thats full of character. One of the oldest buildings in this small, unspoiled town, originally a home for a dozen priests, it is now a luxury boutique-style hotel. The public rooms reflect the buildings history, from its medieval origins to the paneled Georgian dining room and there is a private, walled garden. Each of the 13 guest rooms has been individually styled, all are ensuite, with modern bathrooms, bathrobes, toiletries, flat screen TV, free Wi-Fi, digital telephone, tea and coffee making facilities. With some of Britain's finest farmers, growers and fishermen on the doorstep, the hotel's restaurant - the Beaminster Brasserie - has a reputation for home-grown fresh and modern British food served in a choice of dining areas including al fresco.

Summer Lodge Country House

Summer Lodge Country House

A fine listed Georgian house in the picturesque village of Evershot, the hotel, part of which was designed by Thomas Hardy, is set in four acres of beautiful gardens and grounds with a croquet lawn, heated pool and spa. It adjoins a 600-acre deerpark. Built in 1798 as a dower house by the 2nd Earl of Ilchester, the property was enlarged in 1893 with a second floor added by the 6th Earl who commissioned his friend and local author, Thomas Hardy, (an architect by profession) to draw up the plans. Each of the 20 individually decorated bedrooms has a plasma-screen TV, DVD player, radio, air conditioning, and complimentary high-speed WiFi. Luxury toiletries, fresh fruit, scented candles and homemade shortbread are also provided. Dine in the hotels renowned restaurant and enjoy traditional English dishes tempered with a twist of modern European, offering fine ingredients, many sourced locally and from the hotel gardens.

Start planning your trip

What Is Included in the Price of My Vacation

  • Full-time services of two staff - a Walk Leader and Walk Manager
  • A backup vehicle for resting walkers and moving luggage
  • Comprehensive Travel Information Package and Reading List
  • Diverse itineraries with an emphasis on history, geography, culture, peoples, flora and fauna
  • Demonstrations, wine tasting, admissions to museums and historic sites
  • All ground transfers (ferries, cable cars, trains, etc.)
  • Maps and unique souvenirs to commemorate your trip
  • First-class accommodations with cultural and historical interest
  • All meals - with choices - (Special dietary requirements? No problem!)
  • Wine with dinner
  • On-trail snacks and refreshments
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants