Finally picking up the thread from 2011’s literary pilgrimage to England, Wales, and Ireland, on July 15, we had paid homage to Thomas Hardy in Dorset County, (south England) and trekked through the Isle of Purbeck from the parish of Worth Matravers to St. Aldhelm’s Head and back again. The hike along the Jurassic Coast was a dream come true since I’d imagined these places when I first read Tess of D’Ubervilles and Return of the Native back in Mr. Thurston’s Honors English class at Monte Vista High.
We stayed at the following bed & breakfast that earned strong reviews for their tasty full English breakfasts, and the meals stood up to critiques.
|Ashmira Guest House|
|3 Westerhall Road|
|Weymouth, Dorset DT4 7SZ|
|Phone: 44 (1305) 786584|
Our itinerary included the following and was crafted with the assistance of PDFs from the Lonely Planet’s chapter on Dorset and Project Mapping.
- Dorset Bus Passes
- Coast Path
- Dorset County Museum– which has a replication of Thomas Hardy’s study and a whole section dedicated to the life and work of this great writer
- Dorchester Maumbury Rings more info on these ancient burial grounds can be found on Megalithic.
- Thomas Hardy Country
Below is an epistles sent to family and friends tracking our journey:
15 July 2011
We’ve left Lymington behind and pushed on southwest to Weymouth. Lymington was a sleepy little coastal town, famous for its yacht regattas. Phil and I walked around town yesterday, met Heather’s colleagues at her two jobs on the main street. I took a very peaceful nap in the graveyard, and then we met with Andrew and Heather after their work shifts ended and sloshed a few drinks.
We took the train to Weymouth and, soon as we arrive, were greeted by the
characteristic cry of the gulls, just like in the TV and films. It is the quintessential British seaside town. We’re now settled at what’s been a highly rated bed and breakfast in Weymouth. We went immediately to the Dorset County Museum, so I could pay homage to Thomas Hardy. They had quite an impressive room of curios and memorabilia, even part of his original writing study set up in the museum. I cried as I read a poem he penned in his own handwriting dedicated to Keats.
The weather was too gorgeous yesterday, unbelievably sunny and warm, and we soaked it up with a seven hour hike through Thomas Hardy country. We were right in the thick of farmland and everywhere we trekked, sheep were bleating, cows mooing, chickens clucking, birds chirping, and horses trotting. We lost our way as we tried to get to Corfe Castle and got trapped in a jungle of brambles along a muddy creek, so by the time we got to the castle ruins, the park was closed. We’re going to make our way back to the castle by bus today instead of hiking and try to take it easy since yesterday wiped me out, and we need to recharge for Mt. Snowdon.
Pics from the Thomas Hardy hike:
For more photos, check out the Facebook album.
We didn’t have time for the below suggested walks, which means that we’ll be back in Thomas Hardy country someday soon.
From The Guardian’s Favourite British Walks
South Hams coast, Devon
- Distance 13 miles
- Time 6 hours
- Type Coastal
- Where Linear walk along the South Hams coast from Torcross to East Portlemouth
- Start/End East Portlemouth (SX744387)
- The finest coastline of south Devon is to be found in the South Hams, which extends southwards from Dartmoor, stretching from the Tamar in the west to the Dart in the east. There are five estuaries that have to be crossed if you’re walking the South West Coast Path, but not all are served by ferries throughout the year. Fortunately, on one of the very best day’s walks along this coast – from Torcross to East Portlemouth – there’s a year-round ferry across the Salcombe estuary. The walk takes in the headlands of Start and Prawle Points and boasts superb scenery all the way.
- • Download a detailed route card at the Walk Magazine website: walkmag.co.uk
- Distance 7½ miles
- Time 4 hours
- Type Downland and coast
- Where Circular walk from Abbotsbury via Abbotsbury Castle, West Bexington and Chesil beach
- Start/End Car park in Abbotsbury, next to church (SY578853)
- Situated amidst gently rolling downland behind the great Chesil beach, Abbotsbury is one of the most picturesque and historically interesting villages in Dorset. Its 970-year-old Swannery is the only place in the world where you are able to walk through the heart of a colony of nesting mute swans. This route should be within the capabilities of most, except the very young, with shorter options available. The outward leg leads along a ridge-top path to the north-west of the village via Abbotsbury Castle, an Iron-Age hill fort, with excellent views all the way. It then heads down to the coast and returns alongside Chesil beach. A short detour at the end to climb Chapel Hill to St Catherine’s chapel affords one of the loveliest viewpoints around.
- • Route card: walkmag.co.uk
Alfriston, East Sussex, Countryside around Alfriston
- Distance 8 miles
- Time 4 hours
- Type Downland and valley
- Where Circular walk from Alfriston via South Downs Way, High and Over, and Cuckmere Valley
- Start/End Main car park, North Street, Alfriston (TQ523034)
- Situated in the Cuckmere valley at the eastern end of the South Downs is the picturesque old village of Alfriston. Despite its popularity, the village has lost none of its charm, and remains thankfully unspoilt. Alfriston makes an excellent base for exploring the delightful Sussex countryside, with a variety of fine walks to be enjoyed. This route combines downland and valley walking, with some lovely views along the way.
- • Route card:walkmag.co.uk