The Hardy Way

The verdant landscapes of Wessex
This self-guided walking holiday, with luggage transported, offers idyllic Downs scenery and high-quality accommodation. Amble through the rounded hills, ancient woodland and charming villages that inspired Thomas Hardy, then indulge in excellent dinners of fresh local produce.
The Hardy Way. 6 nights
The Hardy Way. 6 nights

Holiday information


A walking holiday in Dorset

Cranborne Chase. If the name isn’t familiar, the scenery probably will be, for this former royal hunting ground straddling the Dorset-Wiltshire border is the epitome of rural England, as described in the novels and poems of Thomas Hardy. There are rounded green hills, lanes bordered by cow parsley and high hedges, ancient deciduous woodland filled with birdsong, chalk escarpments, and villages of thatched cottages clustered around a duck pond and Norman church.
Our holiday, created in collaboration with Margaret Marande, champion of Britain’s first literature-themed long-distance path, follows parts of The Hardy Way across these idyllic chalk landscapes which are nowadays recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Whether you have read the great novelist’s works or not, walking here brings a feeling of contentment that matches that of the sheep munching happily on the lush carpet of grass – topped off by the charming inns of character along the way.



The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on almost any day of the week, and are free to add extra nights.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.

    You should always be prepared for wet weather, whichever month you are travelling.
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 7 7 10 13 16 19 21 21 18 15 10 8
    mm 77 53 62 45 56 52 41 57 62 68 73 83
  • Arrival in Cranborne
    Night 1: at La Fosse (the first of two nights here).
    As your first night’s accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of walking.
  • Circular route from Cranborne: 17km (10.5 miles), 5.5hrs; ascent/descent 145m
    We suggest a circular route south-west of Cranborne through rolling arable land and picturesque villages with equally pretty names (Wimborne St Giles and Gussage All Saints). You have the option to detour to the fascinating 12th-century church ruins at Knowlton, built on a Neolithic earthwork, extending the walk by 1.5km (1 mile). Alternatively, if your stay here falls on a Wednesday, you could visit the exquisite Cranborne Manor Gardens (pay locally).
    Circular route from Cranborne: 17km
    Countryside around Cranborne
  • Choice of routes from Cranborne to Farnham: 17.5km-19km (11-12 miles)

    Cranborne to Farnham: 17.5km (11 miles), 6hrs; ascent 175m/descent 150m
    Leaving Cranborne, you follow The Hardy Way up to Pentridge Hill, a good vantage point, and past charmingly named Sixpenny Handley. You then walk along the border between Dorset and Wiltshire, following an aptly named trail through Chase Woods called Shire Rack. Keep your eyes peeled for fallow deer, tree creepers and nut hatches, and listen out for woodpeckers and nightingales. The final leg leads south to Farnham and your next base, the Museum Inn.

    With optional detour via Penbury Knoll: 19km (12 miles), 6.5hrs; ascent 180m/descent 160m
    We also offer a slightly longer version of the above walk, which follows the same route but includes an ascent of Penbury Knoll.
    Cranborne to Farnham: 17.5km
    With detour via Penbury Knoll: 19km
  • Choice of routes from Farnham: 9km-12.5km (5.5-7.5 miles)

    Circular route via Larmer Tree: 9km (5.5 miles), 3hrs; ascent/descent 90m
    The Larmer Tree Gardens, created in the 1880s by General Pitt-Rivers, the father of modern archaeology, make an enjoyable day out on foot from Farnham. The gardens (pay locally) were created as a “pleasure grounds for public enlightenment and entertainment”, and feature manicured lawns, ponds, mature woodland, a bandstand and stone pavilions. Thomas Hardy visited in 1895 and described them as “Quite the prettiest sight I ever saw in my life”.

    Alternative circular route: 12.5km (7.5 miles), 4hrs; ascent/descent 160m
    On days when the gardens are closed (Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and for events – see the Larmer Tree website for up-to-date information), we suggest an alternative walk westwards across gently undulating downs and through the handsome medieval villages of Tarrant Gunville and Chettle.
    Circular route via Larmer Tree: 9km
    Alternative circular route: 12.5km
  • Farnham to Shaftesbury: 16.5km (10 miles), 6hrs; ascent 340m/descent 200m
    You’ll find it is easy to imagine yourself in the pages of a Hardy novel as you cross remote valleys patrolled by buzzards. The highlight is the view from Win Green, at 277 metres the highest point in the Chase, from where you can see for some 80 miles as far as the Isle of Wight. It is referenced in Tess of the d’Urbervilles, as is your target, Shaftesbury (or Shaston, as Hardy called it), where you spend your last two nights at La Fleur de Lys.
    Farnham to Shaftesbury: 16.5km
    Win Green, Cranborne Chase
  • Linear route from Shaftesbury: 6km (4 miles), 2hrs; ascent 230m/descent 170m
    Either spend a relaxing day pottering around Shaftesbury (we provide notes for an hour-long town trail), taking in the famous cobbled street of Gold Hill and the fabulous views over Blackmore Vale, so typical of Hardy’s Wessex, or take a bus or taxi (pay locally) for a final short walk through the chalk hills around Melbury Beacon.
    Linear route from Shaftesbury: 6km
    Above Shaftesbury


The inns of character at which you stay are as charming as the scenery that you explore, and are one of the highlights of the holiday.

Options to extend or shorten your stay

Prices & travel options
All prices are in £ sterling (GBP). If you'd like to see what they equate to in your currency, use the converter. For general information on pricing, see the 'your holiday price explained' page.
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  • 6 nights: 01 April 2024 - 30 September 2024 & 01 April 2025 - 30 September 2025

    Start Monday to Friday | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 30 Apr 2024 £995 £350
    1 May - 24 Sep 2024 £1020 £340
    1 - 30 Apr 2025 £1035 £365
    1 May - 24 Sep 2025 £1065 £355
    3rd & 4th person discount -£44 to -£46
    Single traveller supplement £44 to £46
    Includes accommodation, meals and services integral to the holiday as described, plus walking notes and maps, and any connecting travel detailed below.

    Easter & other bank holidays: supplements apply over the Easter weekend, as well as the May Day, Whitsun and late summer bank holiday weekends; please contact us for details

    Reservations for September & October can be made from 1 April

    Evening meals: upgrade to 6-course taster menu at La Fosse, Cranborne: add £28pp.
    Restaurant closed at La Fleur de Lys, Shaftesbury on Sundays all year round (deduct £48pp).
    The restaurant at La Fosse is also closed Sundays plus 1st & 2nd April (deduct£50pp).

    Included travel: transfer Shaftesbury-Cranborne to collect car OR Shaftesbury-Gillingham railway station

    Please note: dogs are not permitted on Inntravel holidays

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Museum Inn, Farnham
    'Feature': 01 Apr - 30 Sep 2024 £13
    'Feature': 01 Apr - 30 Sep 2025 £14
    'With View': 01 Apr - 30 Sep 2024 £24
    'With View': 01 Apr - 30 Sep 2025 £25
  • Prices below are based on 2 people travelling together. If you are travelling solo or as a party of 3 or more and our arrangements include a taxi, please contact us for prices; additional passengers often pay less.

    Where a price range is given, the price you pay depends on your date of travel.

    Connecting travel options - via Gillingham station

    Outward route
    not recommended in this direction
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest
    departure time
    taxi hotel to Gillingham station (0h20) included flexible

    Connecting travel options - via Salisbury station

    Outward route Price per person Latest
    arrival time
    taxi Salisbury station to hotel (0h40) £20-£21 flexible
    Homeward route
    not recommended in this direction
What's included
  • 6 nights
  • 2 dinners
    2 picnics
    6 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • route notes and maps
  • GPS navigation
  • transfer back to first accommodation to pick up car

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >



If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from A to B, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. If/when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation, meaning that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.

    For more detailed information, see our walking holidays in Europe page.
  • Yes, prior to going on holiday you will be able to download GPX tracks so that you can follow your route on your smartphone or dedicated GPS device if you wish. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you use them – our detailed, step-by-step route notes remain the principal means of guiding you from A to B – but we provide them as a secondary means of navigation for additional reassurance when walking.
  • Yes, absolutely. Over the years, we have arranged a great many holidays in the UK for customers living in the USA, Canada, Australia and beyond.

    If you've never travelled with us before, it's worth reading the web pages which explain how we can cater for customers who live outside the UK. The main thing to bear in mind is that our tour operator's licence doesn't allow us to book flights that originate outside the UK, and nor are we able to book rail travel in the UK, so we can't make travel arrangements for you, other than pre-arranging taxis between the local railway station and the accommodation – see the ‘prices & travel’ section for the options available.

    For practical information about travelling to the UK, see the 'what do I need to know about travelling to England, Scotland and Wales?' question.
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can incur a five or six-figure bill.

    Many insurers offer travel insurance (you can find details on our insurance page of a policy that you may like to consider if you are a UK resident), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    When you purchase a policy, be sure to check that it covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs.
  • You are the best judge of your child’s/children’s capabilities. We are happy to take bookings for families of older children/teenagers if they walk regularly, love the outdoors and are comfortable with the distances and ascent/descent involved. Please note that the bedrooms at most of the accommodation we use will normally only sleep a maximum of 3 people, and sometimes only 2.
  • Unfortunately not. The Inntravel team includes many dog owners, but the extra considerations – such as whether taxi firms accept dogs for transfers to the start of walks, whether routes cross private land on which dogs are not allowed, and proximity to a vet’s – would add another layer of complexity to what are already quite complex holidays.
  • As a minimum, you will need a passport to enter the UK; requirements vary according to your nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. You’ll need to check requirements on the website of your own country’s government or that of the British government. Our essential travel information page provides links to websites where you can find out about the applicable requirements, along with general official travel advice.
    English is the most widely spoken of several official languages; in Wales, for example, Welsh has equal status. The currency is the British pound (Scotland issues its own bank notes, but Bank of England notes can be used in Scotland and vice versa). The UK follows Greenwich Mean Time during autumn and winter, but switches to British Summer Time (GMT + 1) from late March until late October.
Last fetch time is : 5/24/2024 2:14:18 AM

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