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 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: Bridge House Hotel

Meet at Crewkerne rail station and transfer to our home for three nights in the heart of Beaminster. Welcome drink and dinner in hotel.

Monday Overnight: Bridge House Hotel

Walk from our hotel to lovely and historic Mapperton House, home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich. After a private tour, we hike to a country pub for lunch, then visit a former watermills unusual garden. Theres time to taste a bit of locally made hard cider before returning to the hotel.

Tuesday Overnight: Bridge House Hotel

Transfer just a few miles to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and walk on National Trust land with spectacular coastal and sea views. Maybe well find a fossil or two. We take lunch in Lyme Regis where we are joined by a local geologist who explains the areas fossiling heritage. Dinner tonight in a local restaurant.

Wednesday Overnight: Bridge House Hotel

Head eastwards, for a day of big views and an exhilarating hike along Dorsets famous Chesil Beach, a bank of pebbles stretching from Portland to West Bay. Stop in Abbotsbury to visit the Swannery, the world's only managed colony of nesting mute swans, and have lunch in the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens. Before dinner in the hotel, we enjoy a rendition of the poetry of local son, the writer Thomas Hardy, and of Dorset poet William Barnes.

Thursday Overnight: Summer Lodge Country House

Today we follow in the footsteps of Hardy's ˜Tess of the D'Urbervilles, retracing her walk further inland, from Beaminster (Hardys Emminster) to Evershot (Hardys Evershead). Our route follows footpaths and lanes across countryside little changed by time. That includes our dinner spot tonight, the historic Acorn Inn.

Friday Overnight: Summer Lodge Country House

Today we trace the life and times of Hardy himself, visiting the cob and thatch cottage where he was born and the church in Stinsford, where his heart lies buried beside his two wives. After lunch, we walk to Max Gate, the town house he designed and lived in, then transfer to our wonderful old hotel for our Farewell Dinner tonight.

Saturday

The Wayfarers 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
$4,595.00
Per person, double occupancy
(Single Supplement $675.00)
Our Wayfarers friends Price is $4,365.00

Dates

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

Activities

Walk Culture
Dorset Map

Hotels - Where we stay

Bridge House Hotel

Bridge House 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