Thomas Hardy’s Dorset

A timeless feel in North Dorset

North Dorset has a timeless feel, captured in Thomas Hardy’s writings many of the scenes and views are still evident. This trail explores the Blackmore Vale where Tess spent her younger years then with views of Shaftesbury (Shaston for those that know the book) it’s on to the chalk and the domain of the landed estates.

Thomas Hardy’s Dorset is a 6 night inn to inn walking trail set in North Dorset. Start in the Blackmore Vale and journey onto the Cranborne Chase, an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The stunning scenery of North Dorset

Thomas’s Hardy’s Dorset is a 6 night inn to inn style walking trip – a linear (one-way!) trail that leads from one country inn to country inn. You’ll spend two nights at each, for a more relaxing experience that avoids the need to pack and re-pack several times a day.

We loved creating this trail for you. Our idea was a simple. A trail enabling you to walk in places that both inspired author Thomas Hardy and were visited by some of his literary characters including Tess D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure.

You will enjoy some wonderful variety, from the small meadows, pastures and hedgerows of the Vale to great rolling views of the countryside. There are rivers and mills, sweeping chalk downs, high up, with big views to enjoy. And charming unspoiled villages to wander in and local churches to explore. Then there’s all the stories along the way, bringing a little of Hardy’s writngs to life.

Trail highlights include:

* Tread the literary footsteps of Thomas Hardy, places which inspired him and his characters, Tess D’Urbervilles and Jude Obscure
* Explore along by the River Stour, listen to the gushing sounds of the weir next to a working flour mill.
* Walk past Thomas Hardy’s Dorset house (he wrote poetry here).
* Enjoy opportunities to see a rich wildlife including kingfishers, herons, deer, rare wild flowers, orchids and butterflies in this area of outstanding natural beauty.
* See beautiful flint, red brick and thatched cottages.
* Enjoy lunch at a farm shop with delicious local produce. Yum!
* Discover tales of local smugglers.
* Soak up gorgeous countryside views over rural North Dorset.

To request a detailed 20 page mini brochure with example itinerary for this trip or ask questions – please use the form to your right >>

Getting here

North Dorset is an area of outstanding natural beauty in the South West of England. Not a county itself. Three counties meet in this area, Dorset, Somerset & Wiltshire.

The trail begins near Gillingham, Dorset. The nearest train station for arrivals is at Gillingham (Dorset). The journey time by car, about a 2½ hours drive from London.

The suggested international airport is London Heathrow and around two hours to the start of the trail. There is also a regional airport at Southampton.

Airport cars often make the most convenient transfer and we can arrange this for you. Access to London and Oxford are both easy if you are staying there either before or after your Foot Trail.

To request a detailed 20 page mini brochure with example itinerary for this trip or ask questions – please use the form to your right >>

Personally chosen country inns

The country inns and country pubs where you stay are small, personal and friendly with excellent hospitality. Each one is in an English village with comfortable bedrooms and delicious local food and drinks to enjoy with dinner after your walk.

Alison, Foot Trails founder, chooses each inn personally. Centuries old, each building provides a relaxing and authentic setting in which you can kick off your boots and eat dinner at the end of an inspiring day on the trail.

On the Thomas Hardy’s Dorset inn to inn trail you will enjoy a different country inn every two days, giving you the opportunity to explore the locality deeply before moving on. Over 6 nights you would stay in 3 different country inns.

You can enjoy an 18th century coaching inn, an 18th century country pub in a village with flagstone floors, and a 16th century inn with local food and lots of country character and charm.

You are in for a real treat!

To request a detailed 20 page mini brochure with example itinerary for this trip or ask questions – please use the form to your right >>

Cost & Availability

4 & 6 night holidays are available all year round. Inn to Inn walking trails include all your luggage transfers and transport needed and so are best enjoyed ‘car-free’.

Your walking trip will be planned and custom made to suit you and the English season. There are no fixed scheduled dates. We do strongly recommend booking in advance, Foot Trails are popular and places each month limited.

Example budgeting costs:

*From £635 per person# for 4 nights
*From £940 per person# for 6 nights

You will receive a fully detailed itinerary, confirmations of your accommodations and a price quote before you book. Once you confirm your booking your price will be guaranteed and no surcharges will be added.

#Based on two sharing en-suite accommodation, staying on a bed & breakfast basis. Includes all luggage transfers, accommodation & transport.


• Independent (self guided) walking days tailored to you and the season
• Tailored walk and explore pack
• Local Ordnance Survey™ maps (waterproof)
• Trail guide cards (waterproof one for each day with easy to follow instructions)
• Local stories and histories
• Recommended lunchtime stops at country pubs and cafes
• Nature cards for identifying wild flowers, trees and animals
• Seasonal nature guide book
• Sweets (for a boost on route)
• Your en-suite accommodation
• Breakfasts
• One bottle of wine
• A decade of expertise and know-how
• Inn to Inn luggage transfers with Foot Trails trusted team of drivers
• Drop off services when it makes a walk better.
• Help and support before your trip

How to book?

Just get in touch to let us know your preferred dates and we will look after the rest.  We strongly recommend booking in advance. Places in our small country inns are limited each month. You can call us on +44 (0) 1747 820626 or use the form to your right to send a message or request an itinerary.
To request a detailed 20 page mini brochure with example itinerary for this trip or ask questions – please use the form to your right >>

Read our reviews on Trip Advisor

Thanks for a fantastic holiday. From start to finish – a dream. Paradise is this piece of land called England.Thanks for our holiday.
Guru and Val

Thank you for everything you and your colleagues did to make our walking break so enjoyable and stress free. It was just what we both needed. We really enjoyed all the walks and we thought the accommodation was spectacular. We hope to be back again at some stage soon.

Absolutely brilliant. Everything we wanted and more.
Lucy and Duncan

To request a detailed 20 page mini brochure with example itinerary for this trip or ask questions – please use the form to your right >>

How do I find my way?

Trails are devised using our local knowledge and rigorously tested and checked. Find your way using either the easy to follow trail cards if you prefer not to map read, or the local Ordnance survey maps provided. Or a combination of both. For peace of mind an on call service is provided every day including weekends between 8am and 6pm.

Where will I be walking?

Your walks are on public rights of way and a mixture of paths, tracks and trails through woodland, on farm land, village country lanes and countryside. Most walking is away from roads. Everything you need will be provided in your walk and explore pack.

To request a detailed 20 page mini brochure with example itinerary for this trip or ask questions – please use the form to your right >>

You may also like:

  • Walking The Jurassic (Dorset Coast)

    Mini Coastal Adventure, Dorset Coast

    Walk through spectacular views and scenery on Dorset's Jurassic Coast, England's first natural world heritage site. It's 95 miles of stunning coastline boast rocks recording 185 million years of the earth's history and this incredible geology is of global importance.
    Read more
  • Country Houses and Gardens on foot

    Splendour & Grandeur in the country

    A must for anyone who loves English country houses and gardens. From stately homes to wandering down long meandering driveways, see the South West's greatest gardens with a memorable Foot Trail. Stay for several nights in multiple locations of up to 6 different counties of South West England.
    Read more

Contact Foot TrailsLike to find out more?

Call us on +44 (0) 1747 820 626 or complete the form below…

Please pop your details in below and let us know how we can help.

View our Privacy Policy

Join our mailing list

Receive all the latest news from us including new walks, walking and equipment tips and special offers.