Cookies on this website We use cookies on our website to make sure we can give you the best experience while browsing. If you are happy with this, please continue to use this site as normal or learn more


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.

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.

Book now for autumn 2020 or summer 2021

The easing of travel restrictions for UK citizens means that we are resuming this holiday from the start of September 2020.

Looking further ahead, we are keeping our prices the same, so you can book for summer 2021 at 2020 prices.

What we’re doing so you can book and travel with confidence >


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 The Inn at Cranborne (the first of two nights here). For something more gastronomic, we also offer La Fosse.
    As your first night’s accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of walking.
  • Circular route from Cranborne: 17.5km (11miles), 5.5hrs
    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 also pass the fascinating 12th-century church ruins at Knowlton, built on a Neolithic earthwork. Alternatively, if your stay here falls on a Wednesday, you could visit the exquisite Cranborne Manor Gardens (pay locally).
    Circular route from Cranborne: 17.5km
    Countryside around Cranborne
  • Cranborne to Farnham or Tollard Royal: 19km (12 miles), 6hrs
    Leaving Cranborne, you follow sections of The Hardy Way up to Penbury Knoll, a good vantage point, and past charmingly named Sixpenny Handley. You then walk along the border between Dorset and Wiltshire, following an aptly named wooded trail called Shire Rack. Keep your eyes peeled for fallow deer, tree creepers and nut hatches, and listen out for woodpeckers and nightingales. If your next base is the Museum Inn, the last leg takes you south to Farnham, but if you are staying in the King John Inn, you head north to Tollard Royal.
    Cranborne to Farnham - Tinkley Bottom
    Cranborne to Farnham: 19km
    Cranborne to Tollard Royal: 19km
  • Choice of routes from Farnham or Tollard Royal: 9.5km-12km (6-7.5 miles)

    Circular route from Farnham via Larmer Tree: 9.5km (6 miles), 2hrs OR
    Circular route from Tollard Royal via Larmer Tree: 10km (6 miles), 3hrs

    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 both Farnham and Tollard Royal. The gardens (pay locally) were created as a “pleasure grounds for public enlightenment and entertainment”, and feature manicured lawns, colourful flowerbeds, ponds, mature woodland, a bandstand and stone pavilions. Thomas Hardy visited the gardens in 1895 and described them as “Quite the prettiest sight I ever saw in my life”. On days when the gardens are closed (Fridays, Saturdays and for events – see the Larmer Tree website for up-to-date information), anyone staying in Tollard Royal can simply complete our circular walk without stopping at the gardens.

    Alternative circular route from Farnham: 12km (7.5 miles), 3.5hrs
    If you are staying in Farnham and the gardens are closed, we suggest an alternative walk westwards across gently undulating downs and through the handsome medieval villages of Tarrant Gunville and Chettle.
    Circular route from Farnham via Larmer Tree: 9.5km
    Circular route from Tollard Royal via Larmer Tree: 10km
    The Museum Inn, Farnham
    Alternative circular route from Farnham: 12km
  • Farnham to Shaftesbury: 17.5km (11 miles), 6hrs OR Tollard Royal to Shaftesbury: 14km (9 miles), 4.5hrs
    Although the first part of the walk differs depending on whether you are coming from Farnham or Tollard Royal, the two routes soon merge, and 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 approach to Win Green, at 277 metres the highest point in the Chase, from where the views stretch 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.
    Win Green-Cranborne Chase
    Farnham to Shaftesbury: 17.5km
    Tollard Royal to Shaftesbury: 14km
  • Circular route from Shaftesbury: 6km (4 miles), 2hrs
    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 circuit through the chalk hills around Melbury Beacon.
    Circular 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. Occasionally, due to availability, we may offer an alternative hotel, as shown below. You will be informed of any change to the usual hotel (along with any price implication) prior to us confirming your holiday to you.
We offer a gastronomic option in Cranborne. Please indicate your preference at the time of booking.

Options to extend or shorten your stay


Summer 2021

We are keeping our prices the same, so you can book for summer 2021 at 2020 prices.
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.
Currency converter

We can only accept payment in GBP, but you can use this converter to find out how much the holiday equates to in your own currency.

Please enter an amount Please enter a valid amount British Pound Sterling (GBP)
Currency is required
NB: this should be used as a guide only. Fluctuations in exchange rates could result in significant variation by the time you come to pay.
  • 6 nights: 01 April 2020 - 31 October 2020

    Start any day | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 30 Apr 2020 £670 £270
    1 May - 30 Sep 2020 £695 £285
    1 - 25 Oct 2020 £670 £270
    3rd & 4th person discount -£35
    Single traveller supplement £35

    Please note: dogs are not permitted on Inntravel holidays

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

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    The Inn at Cranborne, Cranborne
    Luxury: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2020 £22
    Museum Inn, Farnham
    'Feature': 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2020 £8
    'With View': 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2020 £18
  • 6 nights, staying in La Fosse (2 dinners)

    1 April - 31 October 2019 Price Single room
    1 - 30 Apr 2020 £685 £300
    1 May - 30 Sep 2020 £710 £315
    1 - 25 Oct 2020 £685 £300
    3rd & 4th person discount -£35
    Single traveller supplement £35

    Upgrade to 6-course taster menu: add £22pp

  • 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.

    Connecting travel options - out via Salisbury, home via Gillingham

    Outward route Price per person Latest train
    arrival time
    taxi Salisbury station to hotel (0h40) £14 flexible
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest train
    departure time
    taxi hotel to Gillingham station (0h20) included flexible
What's included
  • 6 nights
  • 1 dinner
    2 picnics
    6 breakfasts
  • Luggage transported
  • Route notes and maps
  • 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 sincerely hope that your holiday experience will be as enjoyable as it would have been before the pandemic – walking holidays are ideal in these times of social distancing, and we’re not operating holidays if the key highlights can no longer be delivered – but, naturally, there will be some changes to ensure your and other people’s safety.
    Your holiday experience: what to expect >
    Safety measures being taken by hoteliers & others >
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from hotel to hotel, 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.
  • We can book a wide range of airlines and routes from the UK. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. For Europe and Morocco, there’s a £35 booking fee per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). For India and Nepal, the booking fee is £60 per person. More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • 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 cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to buy our travel insurance policy (if you live outside Europe you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK and EU residents), 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.

    We'll ask you for the details of your alternative policy (insurer, policy number and medical emergency phone number) so that we can help out if the worst happens while you are on holiday. It's up to you, though, to check that your policy covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs; we don't check alternative policies.
  • At Inntravel we work in close partnership with our hoteliers, taxi drivers and other local suppliers to provide our self-guided holidays directly to you. We are entirely confident that you will continue to receive the usual warm welcome from them when the UK withdraws from the European Union (EU).

    It currently seems highly likely the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will take place on 31 January 2020, at which point the UK will enter a minimum 11-month transition period through to the end of December 2020. During this transition period there will be absolutely no changes to current arrangements for UK citizens travelling to an EU destination, so you can book your 2020 holiday certain that there will be no disruptions or complications caused by Brexit.
  • The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.
    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
  • 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.
Last fetch time is : 8/4/2020 6:23:39 AM