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England – Dorset

  • 7 Night Route

    Price From: £760

Dorset - In the footsteps of Thomas Hardy

Back to Routes
The Jurassic Coast from Thorncombe Beacon

The Jurassic Coast from Thorncombe Beacon

Thorncombe Beacon

Thorncombe Beacon

Springtime

Springtime

Cottages and millponds

Cottages and millponds

Through the fields

Through the fields

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury

Cricket match at Milton Abbey

Cricket match at Milton Abbey

Hambledon Hill

Hambledon Hill

Milton Abbas village

Milton Abbas village

Cerne Abbas Giant, ancient chalk hill figure

Cerne Abbas Giant, ancient chalk hill figure

Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis

The Cobb at Lyme Regis

The Cobb at Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis harbour

Lyme Regis harbour

Fossil hunting in the cliffs at Charmouth near Lyme Regis

Fossil hunting in the cliffs at Charmouth near Lyme Regis

Price: £760
Nights: 7
Grade:
Walk: 4¼- 7 hr/day
Max. party size: 8

Travellers Reviews

What I liked most was the beauty of the trek.

It was wonderful. We felt we were able to be in the 19th century for a few days. We loved picnicking in lovely spots and the "treasure hunt" feel of following the directions

Kate Sims, Hawaii, June 2106

This has been the greatest vacation I have had for many years.

I've been to the UK very often, but never had the chance to experience it like this. I was amazed at how close I felt to the country(side) and how diverse everything could be. In some ways I'll view my life now pre- and post-Dorset.
Thank you again for a precious, unbelievable experince

Eske Wright, Bonn, August 2016

What we loved most was ..

... the opportunity to walk through fields, woods and little villages all with the knowledge that our luggage was being transferred to comfortable friendly bed and breakfasts."

Suzanne Bunker, Victoria, August 2016

More independent feedback
About the Route

At a glance

7 nights (6 days walking) - the full route. Extra nights possible at all accommodation. Customised shorter breaks possible on request.

How much walking?

Full days: 15-24km per day, 4¼-7 hrs walking
Using shortening options: 10-17km per day, 3-5¾ hrs (using lifts)

Max. Grade:

From Salisbury to the Dorset Coast

Dorset in style! Our route discovers the Wessex that Thomas Hardy knew and loved so well.
Following an overnight stay in the beautiful cathedral city of Salisbury, and a short train ride, the walk winds west past the romantic ruins of Old Wardour Castle to the Saxon hilltop town of Shaftesbury. Heading on down picturesque Gold Hill towards the south coast, you’ll explore Dorset, one of England’s most beautiful counties, happening on quintessentially English villages and staying in some fascinating old inns. Cross Cranborne Chase to ancient Hambledon Hill and the ‘new village’ of Milton Abbas; through remote Bingham’s Melcombe to idyllic Plush and the always-ready Cerne Abbas giant. Your last day is spent exploring the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site, and enjoying the views from high up on Golden Cap, all the way to journey’s end, the fishing village of Lyme Regis.

Walked by On Foot staff: Mary, Harriet and Simon

REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit Aito.com.

 

Route Highlights

  • The cathedral city of Salisbury
  • Old Wardour Castle
  • Shaftesbury – a Saxon hilltop town, and Gold Hill
  • Idyllic rolling and unspoilt countryside with constant Thomas Hardy references
  • Quintessential English villages and inns
  • Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, Golden Cap and Lyme Regis

We Recommend

An extra day to relax and explore the local countryside at the perfect pub at Plush, or at Thomas Hardy's "Sow and Acorn" in Evershot, at the seaside at Lyme Regis or in the cathedral city of Salisbury.

Eating and Drinking

A great chance to taste real English ales, hearty food and even the infamous Dorset Knob. The restaurants at the Brace of Pheasants and the Acorn are excellent. Also try Mark Hix’ Oyster and Fish House on Cobb Road in Lyme Regis (online reservations) and don’t miss fish and chips eaten al fresco on the seafront in Lyme (but watch out for hungry seagulls).

How much Walking?

Full days: 15-24km per day, 4¼-7 hrs walking
Using shortening options: 10-17km per day, 3-5¾ hrs (using lifts)

Some smaller footpaths are used, mostly signed, though some not – careful attention to note details needed. Excellent maps. Basic compass skills essential.

Medium: Average CUSs per day 445m (320-640m, using shortening options 350m (250m-430m).  Note:  Coastal option on Day 7 – 750m.

GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.

Important note: Times given for each day are  walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops.  “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb.  See “Walk Grading” for more information.

When to go?

The best months to walk: May, June, July, September, October

Other possible months: January, February, March, April, August, November, December

This walk is possible all year round and best in spring and autumn, but beware of shorter days in the winter months. It may also be rather wet and muddy – be prepared! In August it may be hard for us to secure accommodation.

Start Dates

Recommended
Possible
Unavailable

Weather Chart

 

Temperature and rainfall chart for Salisbury

Itinerary

About the Route

Day 1

Arrive in Salisbury. Visit the Cathedral and Close, enjoy the shops and have a meal in one of the city's pubs and restaurants.

Day 2

Salisbury to Shaftesbury. After a short train ride to Tisbury, a gentle ramble through river valleys, past the ruins of Old Wardour Castle, and via villages and parkland to the hilltop town of Shaftesbury. Dine at a choice of pubs and restaurants. (Medium: 4¼ hrs, 15km, CUSs 350m)

Day 3

Shaftesbury to Child Okeford. Head down famous Gold Hill into the Blackmore Vale, past water mills, and then up again to Ashmore (Dorset’s highest (and some say prettiest) village) and the woodlands and wide vistas of Cranborne Chase. Climb iron-age Hambledon Hill before dropping down into Child Okeford and enjoying a traditional pub supper. (Medium-hard: 7 hrs, 24km CUSs 475m, or medium: 4¾ hrs, 17km, CUSs 400m using initial lift with luggage)

Day 4

Winterbourne Stickland to Plush. A veritable feast of a day for connoisseurs of Thomas Hardy, country churches, and the English landscape at its best. After a short transfer (included), leave the Stour valley and climb back up into the hills, dropping then into much-photographed Milton Abbas complete with ancient abbey. Then, walking through picturesque Dorset countryside, discover the church at Hilton, and feudal and almost inaccessible Bingham’s Melcombe (more Hardy), before heading for the heights at the Dorset Gap and supper and overnight at the perfect thatched pub. (Medium: 5¼ hrs, 18km, CUSs 455m, or easy-medium: 4 hrs, 14km, CUSs 315m using lift at start)

Day 5

Plush to Evershot. A switchback day of five valleys and four ridges, taking in lunch at pretty Cerne Abbas, famous for its virile giant carved in the chalk. Then a lovely walk up through Cerne Park and over to the Sydling valley, remote and agricultural, and to the next – Frome St Quentin and its old church, before finally reaching Evershot, and staying in Hardy’s old “Sow and Acorn”. (Medium-hard: 5½ hrs, 22km, CUSs 640m, or medium: 4 hrs, 14km, CUSs 400m using lift at start)

Day 6

Evershot to Bridport. This beautiful and easier walk takes in some gorgeous countryside – ancient lanes, former parkland, a country house garden and a watermill. Garden lovers should visit Mapperton (March-Oct, not Sat); take tea at the Mill at Mangerton, and the final walk into Bridport will surprise you in its tranquillity. At journey’s end, explore Georgian Bridport too. (Medium: 5¼ hrs, 20km, CUS 320m or easy-medium: 4¾ hrs, 17km, CUSs 255m using lift at start)

Day 7

Bridport to Lyme Regis. A day of two options – either join the South West Coast Path at West Bay and enjoy an undulating (!) walk with fabulous views along the Jurassic Coast (Medium-hard: 18km, 5¼ hrs, CUSs 750m) or continue your treat of unspoilt Dorset countryside, villages and churches, with lunch at Whitchurch Canonicorum before joining the end of the Wessex Ridgeway as it snakes its way craftily through Lyme’s back door. (Medium-hard: 6 hrs, 21km, 430m)

Departure day

Depart for home (or choose to stay further nights)

Travel Information

ARRIVING BY AIR

The best “local” airport is either Bournemouth, Southampton or Bristol. Intercontinental flights use London Heathrow or London Gatwick.

Land by: 16:00 for public transport connections to Salisbury (c. 2 hrs).

Return flight earliest: 12:00 for public transport connections from Axminster (c. 3 hrs)

In view of the large number of suitable airports in the south of England, if your inward flight lands after 16:00 or your return flight takes off before 12:00, please contact us for transfer advice.

Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.

For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.

See “Getting to the start of the walk” below for transfer information

ARRIVING BY TRAIN

Nearest railway station:

Start: Salisbury

Finish: Axminster

 

Getting to the start of the walk

The first hotel is in the medieval city of Salisbury and the last in Lyme Regis, a lovely old fishing village. Transfer times and methods are suggestions from London Gatwick and London Heathrow airports, but if you arrive at either Bristol, Bournemouth or Southampton airports, then transfer times will be shorter in most cases.

LONDON GATWICK

Outward: Train to Salisbury (2½ hrs) then short walk or local taxi to first hotel

Return: Bus or local taxi to Axminster, then train to London Gatwick (c.3½ hrs)

LONDON HEATHROW

Outward: Bus then train to Salisbury (c.2½ hrs) then short walk or local taxi to first hotel

Return: Bus or local taxi to Axminster, train to Woking then bus to Heathrow (c.3½ hrs)

Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information.

Where You'll Stay

An historic inn with ‘Constable’ views in Salisbury sets the scene for the accommodation along this route, which varies from small-and-friendly B&Bs and picturesque pubs to a newly-renovated townhouse hotel in Lyme, with surprisingly spacious rooms.

Upgrade hotels available in Bridport. Accommodation in Evershot and Lyme Regis require a 2 night minimum stay at weekends (Fri/Sat nights).

Salisbury – The Old Mill: (B&B)

Night 1

Salisbury – The Old Mill: (B&B)

16th century inn on the edge of the watermeadows, complete with its own millrace.

Shaftesbury – La Fleur de Lys: (B&B)

Night 2

Shaftesbury – La Fleur de Lys: (B&B)

Stylish restaurant with rooms.

Child Okeford – The Saxon Inn: (B&B)

Night 3

Child Okeford – The Saxon Inn: (B&B)

Character tucked-away inn.

Plush – The Brace of Pheasants: (B&B)

Night 4

Plush – The Brace of Pheasants: (B&B)

Lovely thatched country inn in tiny hamlet.

Evershot – The Acorn: (B&B)

Night 5

Evershot – The Acorn: (B&B)

Traditional hotel with Hardy connections.

Lyme Regis – Hix Townhouse: (B&B)

Night 7

Lyme Regis – Hix Townhouse: (B&B)

Recently converted townhouse in centre. Breakfast hamper in room. Min 2 nights stays at weekend.

Prices

Price: £760 for 7 nights

Total 7 nights in double/twin room, 7 breakfasts (breakfast hamper in room in Lyme), short transfer at the start of Day 4 and luggage transfers from Tisbury to Lyme Regis.  All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated (e.g. for taxis).

Savings and supplements

Single Room Supplement: From £315

Lone Traveller Additional Supplement: From £110

Larger party saving (on identical itinerary) – £75 off per person (except first two)

Please note that weekend stays (Fri and Sat nights) in Evershot and Lyme Regis may be subject to a minimum 2 night stay and a supplement.

 

Add Ons

Extra nights in any hotel along the route: Contact On Foot Holidays (seasonal pricing)

Guiding for one day by an On Foot staff member (priced per group): £200 irrespective of group size

Travellers Reviews

What I liked most was the beauty of the trek.

It was wonderful. We felt we were able to be in the 19th century for a few days. We loved picnicking in lovely spots and the "treasure hunt" feel of following the directions

Kate Sims, Hawaii, June 2106

This has been the greatest vacation I have had for many years.

I've been to the UK very often, but never had the chance to experience it like this. I was amazed at how close I felt to the country(side) and how diverse everything could be. In some ways I'll view my life now pre- and post-Dorset.
Thank you again for a precious, unbelievable experince

Eske Wright, Bonn, August 2016

What we loved most was ..

... the opportunity to walk through fields, woods and little villages all with the knowledge that our luggage was being transferred to comfortable friendly bed and breakfasts."

Suzanne Bunker, Victoria, August 2016

More independent feedback
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On Foot Holidays team

Route designed by:

On Foot Holidays team

In-house route design

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