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A Taste of Hardy's Wessex

The verdant scenery of Cranborne Chase
 
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.
A Taste of Hardy's Wessex. 4 nights
A Taste of Hardy's Wessex. 4 nights
 

Holiday information

 

A walking holiday in Dorset

King John and Henry VIII used to hunt on Cranborne Chase, but that’s probably not the reason that you may recognise the chalk landscapes either side of the Dorset-Wiltshire border. If the rounded green hills, high-hedged lanes, ancient woodland, chalk escarpments and thatched villages do seem familiar, it’s more likely to be because this is scenery that inspired Hardy and formed the backdrop to novels such as Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
Our short walking break, designed with the help of Margaret Marande, champion of Britain’s first literature-related long-distance path, follows parts of The Hardy Way across these seductive landscapes. Whether you have read the great novelist’s works or not, walking in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) brings a feeling of wellbeing that matches that of the sheep munching contentedly on the lush carpet of grass – topped off by the atmospheric inns of character at which you stay.
 

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Gallery
 

Itinerary

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 (where you spend one night).
    As your first night’s accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of walking.
  • 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
    Setting off from 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 night at La Fleur de Lys. With a reasonably prompt start, you can spend some time pottering around Shaftesbury on arrival (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.
    Farnham to Shaftesbury: 16.5km
    Win Green, Cranborne Chase
 

Accommodation

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.
 

Extend 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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  • 4 nights: 01 March 2021 - 31 October 2021 & 01 March 2022 - 31 October 2022

    Start Sunday-Thursday | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 Mar - 30 Apr 2021 § £515 £220
    1 May - 30 Sep 2021 § £535 £230
    1 - 27 Oct 2021 £515 £220
    1 Mar - 30 Apr 2022 § £545 £235
    1 May - 30 Sep 2022 #: § £565 £245
    1 - 27 Oct 2022 # £545 £235
    3rd & 4th person discount -£30
    Single traveller supplement £30
    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 2022 can be made from 1 April 2022

    Evening meals: upgrade to 6-course taster menu at La Fosse, Cranborne: add £22pp in 2021, £23pp in 2022
    Restaurant closed at La Fleur de Lys, Shaftesbury on Sundays (deduct £38pp in 2021, £40pp in 2022) and at La Fosse on Mondays & Tuesdays from 1 Mar-3 Apr & 15-25 Oct 2021, 1 Mar-2 Apr & 15-25 Oct 2022, plus Sundays throughout the year (deduct £40pp in 2021, £42pp in 2022).

    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 Mar - 31 Oct 2021 £8
    'Feature': 01 Mar - 31 Oct 2022 £10
    'With View': 01 Mar - 31 Oct 2021 £18
    'With View': 01 Mar - 31 Oct 2022 £20
  • 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 in 2021; £15 in 2022 flexible
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest train
    departure time
    taxi hotel to Gillingham station (0h20) included flexible
What is included
  • 4 nights
  • 2 dinners
    2 picnics
    4 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • route notes and maps
  • GPS navigation
  • transfer back to first accommodation to pick up car
 
Reviews

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 >

 

FAQs

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.
  • If your holiday plans go awry because of Coronavirus, rest assured that we’ll do right by you. Since the start of the pandemic, our flexible booking policy and prompt issuing of refunds to customers who prefer not to defer their holiday have earned us high praise in the national press.
  • 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, not least taking tests before and after your holiday for many destinations.
    Your holiday experience: what to expect >
    Safety measures being taken by hoteliers & others >
    Entry requirements for non-UK destinations & for re-entering the UK >
  • 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.
  • 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 cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to take out our recommended travel insurance policy (if you live outside the UK you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK 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 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.
  • 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 : 10/25/2021 8:20:53 AM