Walks with Thomas Hardy at Lulworth Lodge

Dorset Coast


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Activity types:

  • Culture
  • Meadows & hills


  • Medium
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Difficulty indicator

Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.

More about difficulty levels

From £439.00 - 4 nights


Prices are per person

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Holiday overview

Thomas Hardy understood, knew, and was loyal to Dorset, the countryside where he was born and lived most of his life.  Dorset’s wild uplands and quiet villages, tucked away beneath the Downs, have changed very little since Hardy’s day. We walk through Hardy’s landscapes and see it much as he would have seen it, and the paths we take are the ancient byways followed for generations by people going about their ways. These are the paths Thomas Hardy walked and the characters in his novels trod. An exploration on foot of Hardy’s ‘Wessex’ is surely one of the best ways of discovering Hardy’s land and work.

Holiday highlights

  • Discover the beautiful homeland of Thomas Hardy and the landscapes that inspired him
  • Walks explore Hardy’s Wessex and his inspiration for novels such as Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Woodlanders
  • Admire the scenes of Hardy’s Egdon Heath, Mistover Knap, Rainbarrow, Mellstock, and Abbot’s Cernal
  • Follow in the footsteps of Hardy’s characters such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles. She was one of Hardy’s most intrepid walkers

Great reasons to join us

  • Great value: all prices include Full Board en-suite accommodation, a full programme of walks with all transport to and from the walks, plus evening activities
  • Great walking: explore Hardy's Wessex in the company of our experienced leader
  • Accommodation: our Country House is equipped with all the essentials – a welcoming and relaxing lounge and dining area, a drying room for your boots and kit, and comfortable en-suite rooms 


Just a stone's throw from the beach at Lulworth Cove, Lulworth Lodge is a walkers lodge with      4-star Visit Britain Guest Accommodationmagnificent sea views from the private terrace.

As one of our smaller properties, it makes a comfortable and exclusive base for smaller groups.


We have 12 bedrooms at Lulworth Lodge, some with spectacular views to the sea.

Our classic bedrooms offer comfortable accommodation and an en-suite bathroom with bath or shower. They also have TV, hairdryer, and tea and coffee making facilities. Single rooms are available for an extra £8 per night.

You can enjoy extra space or exceptional views plus additional facilities including a towelling robe and complimentary slippers when you upgrade to a premium bedroom. Premium rooms are available at just £5 extra per person per night.    


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All our Country Houses are tailored to the needs of walkers and outdoor enthusiasts and have excellent boot and drying rooms.

Lulworth Lodge has a relaxed lounge area with open fireplace. There is also a bar and dining area. Free WiFi is available in the public rooms.

Outside the raised private terrace has seating with delightful views down to the cove.

Complimentary parking is available for guests in the public car park about 100 metres from Lulworth Lodge.


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All holidays at our Country Houses are Full Board with all meals included, from dinner on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure.

Start your day with our extensive breakfast. Choose from a wide selection on the cold buffet and/or a full cooked breakfast. Maybe enjoy a lighter option of fruit and yoghurt followed by scrambled egg, go for porridge followed by a full English breakfast, or select something in between.

Choose from our famous self-select picnic lunches - everything you need to keep you going on a day outdoors. Your own choice of sandwiches is prepared to order, and you can add crisps and snacks, fruit, nuts, chocolate bars, sweets and biscuits as you wish.     

Our house-based Leisure Activities include an in-house lunch (generally soup, sandwiches etc).   

The relaxed dinner is a highlight of any stay at our Country Houses. With tables seating up to 10 and no seating plan, it offers a great opportunity to get to know your fellow guests. There is always a choice of dishes for every course, featuring good British cooking and often local specialities. A vegetarian option is always available.

All our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.

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Holiday itinerary

This itinerary may be subject to change, depending on walking conditions during the week.

Monday: arrival day

Tuesday: Higher Bockhampton, Egdon Heath, and Stinsford (Mellstock)

The walk starts at Higher Bockhampton where Hardy was born in 1840, and then explores the landscape just to the north of his home, which he immortalised as Egdon Heath in one of his most powerful novels, The Return of the Native. We will still be able to see many of the features of the heath he drew upon in the novel, including the possible site of Mistover Knap where Eustacia Vye lived, the pond close by where she met her straying lover, Wildeve, and the mighty old British burial place which Hardy named Rainbarrow. We will continue through meadows and farmland which Hardy saw from his bedroom window, and which became the world of Far from the Madding Crowd, and arrive at Stinsford church (Hardy’s Mellstock), featured in Under the Greenwood Tree, and where Hardy’s heart is buried in the grave of his first wife, Emma. 10 miles (16km)

Wednesday: Cerne Abbas and The Woodlanders

Our walk today starts and finishes in one of the most beautiful Dorset villages, Cerne Abbas, Hardy’s Abbot’s Cernal. From here we walk above the Cerne Valley and along the hillside to High Stoy, one of Hardy’s favourite viewpoints overlooking the Blackmore Vale. We continue along the crest of Little Minterne Hill, and as we walk through the beautiful valley with its rounded copses, by Minterne House, and where parts of old beech and oak forests shade our path, we enter the landscape of Hardy’s The Woodlanders, and its characters, Melbury and Giles Winterbourne. The paths take us through farmland and woodland into the loveliest part of Cerne Abbas, with its charming black and white cottages, and to the Abbey ruins, possibly used by Hardy as the model for the great barn in Far from the Madding Crowd. 7miles (11km).

Thursday: Wessex Heights – around Melcombe Bingham in the footsteps of Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Our final walk begins in the heart of Tess of the D’Urbervilles countryside, just south of Melcombe Bingham. Appropriately, Tess is one of Hardy’s most intrepid walkers. We follow in Tess’s footsteps round the hills of Nettlecombe Tout and Bulbarrow Hill, whose summit is ringed by Rawlsbury Hill Fort. It was near here that Tess was compelled to look for work after Angel Clare deserted her. We continue on paths and bridleways walked by Tess, with views of Blackmore Vale which Hardy loved so much, and into which Tess gazed and saw ‘an abyss of chaotic shade’. Our route then takes us through small copses and farmland, and passes through small hamlets all known by Hardy as he wandered his beloved landscapes. 9 miles (14.5km)

The cost of all transport to and from the walks is included in your holiday price.

Local area

Lulworth Cove is a justifiably popular destination, with day-trippers and holiday-makers drawn by the stunning local scenery. The Cove itself is a near-perfect circle which has been carved by the waves into the soft rocks. A 20 minute walk along the cliff path will take you to Durdle Door, the area's other geological wonder. This impressive natural sea arch has been carved from the harder chalk rocks. The free Heritage Centre next to the public car park is well worth a visit during your stay.

Facilities in Lulworth Cove are limited to a selection of pubs, cafés and souvenir shops. The nearest towns are Wareham, Dorchester and Weymouth, which all have a good selection of banks, chemists and supermarkets.

During your visit to Dorset you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest:

Children looking at an historic tankThe Tank Museum
The Tank Museum at Bovington, 20 minutes' drive north of Lulworth Cove, houses a particularly impressive collection of tanks from around the world. Trace the history from the tank's origins in the First World War to the present day. www.tankmuseum.org



Lulworth Castle
Situated just a couple of miles inland from the cove, Lulworth Castle is a 17th century mock medieval castle that was once the heart of an extensive estate. Having been gutted by fire in 1929 it was derelict for many years, but has since been completely renovated. www.lulworth.com/castle

Corfe Castle
The iconic ruins of Corfe Castle stand guard over a natural gap in the Purbeck Hills, about 30 minutes' drive from Lulworth. Dating from the 11th century it is now maintained by the National Trust. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/corfe-castle

Steam locomotive at Swange StationSwanage Railway
Ride on this lovingly restored branch line through the glorious Purbeck countryside. Steam hauled trains run throughout the year. You may want to leave your car in the Park & Ride at Norden, about 30 minutes' drive from Lulworth, and use the railway to visit the attractive seaside resort of Swanage. www.swanagerailway.co.uk



Group of chimps at Monkey WorldMonkey World
Located near Wool, 20 minutes' drive north of Lulworth Cove, Monkey World is a great family attraction. Orginally set up to rescue mistreated monkeys from overseas, it is now home to a huge collection of primates of all shapes and sizes. www.monkeyworld.org



Brownsea Island
Brownsea Island is located in the middle of Poole Harbour – boats depart from Poole Quay and Sandbanks, about 40 minutes' drive from Lulworth Cove. The island is now a nature reserve, managed by the National Trust and one of last remaining places to spot red squirrels in the UK. Brownsea is also famous as the location of the world's first scout camp in 1907. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brownsea-island

Weymouth is a fine Regency seaside resort with an ever-popular beach and bustling harbour.

Athelhampton House & Gardens
Located near Dorchester, about 30 minutes' drive away, Athelhampton House is a fine Tudor building dating from 1485. The surrounding formal gardens are also impressive and were built between 1891 - 1899. www.athelhampton.co.uk

Thomas Hardy’s Cottage
The writer Thomas Hardy was one of Dorset’s most celebrated residents who used the local towns and villages around Dorchester as the setting for many of his novels. His birthplace near Dorchester is around 30 minutes' drive away and now owned by the National Trust. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardy-country

Imposing fascade of Kingston Lacey houseKingston Lacy
This fine country house and estate is located near Wimborne Minster, about 45 minutes' drive from Lulworth Cove. Dating from 1665, and now managed by the National Trust, it houses a fine collection of antiques, with many notable examples from the Middle East and Egypt. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy




Kingston Lacey image ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey, Swanage Railway image© Brian Robert Marshall


Lulworth Lodge, Lulworth Cove, Dorset BH20 5RQ

By train: The nearest railway station is at Wool. For train times and general rail enquiries visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).

By taxi: The 5 mile journey from Wool railway station takes approximately 10 minutes. Taxis cost approx £12 per taxi. Every year we negotiate a pre-booked rate for these journeys. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. We recommend pre-booking your taxi and the taxi company will arrange shared taxis wherever possible. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Lulworth Lodge Manager.

By car: The recommended route is via Bere Regis and Wool – although slightly longer this avoids the traffic through Bournemouth and Poole. From Bere Regis follow signs to Wool. At Wool cross the level crossing and turn left following signs to Lulworth Cove and West Lulworth. Continue for a further 4 miles to Lulworth Cove. As you enter Lulworth Cove Village, turn in to the public car park at the turning circle. Park your car here. This car park is free for HF Holidays’ guests. Pick up a parking permit from Lulworth Lodge. Exit the car park on foot by the Heritage Centre and follow the road towards the sea. Lulworth Lodge is 50 yards down this road on the left hand side. 

To help you plan your journey, use www.traveline.info


Sandy Franklin

Sandy has been leading for HF Holidays since 2002, and loves nothing more than being in the outdoors, and sharing her enthusiasm with guests. She has led many walking holidays in the UK and Europe, as well as further afield in Patagonia, Nepal, Bhutan and New Zealand. Sandy has also led cycling breaks for HF Holidays in the UK and Europe. Sandy has a degree in English literature, and spent her career as a University librarian. She loves to combine her love of the outdoors with her love of literature, which means that leading the 'Walking with Thomas Hardy' is a perfect combination for her. When not leading for HF Holidays Sandy loves to spend her time walking, cycling, rowing ,sea-kayaking, cross country skiing - and of course, reading. 


Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
23 Aug 2016, 6:35 a.m.

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My only complaint was that our room was too small for two people
22 Aug 2016, 8:18 a.m.

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The arrangements were clear helpful.

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The house and location were lovely, food excellent and the walks very well organised and highly enjoyable. The leader was great fun and very knowledgeable about the area and the subject, Thomas Hardy. She was very sensitive to the needs of the individuals in the group, so we all enjoyed the walks.
9 Aug 2016, 1:11 p.m.

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Very good help during booking process.

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Beautiful lodge right in the exceptional surroundings of Lulworth Cove
7 Jul 2016, 8:04 a.m.

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Good information & well organised.

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Excellent accommodation & leader
4 Jul 2016, 2 p.m.

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This was my first hf holiday and I was very impressed with all aspects of the holiday.

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Wonderful holiday. Our guide took great care to make the holiday enjoyable and fascinating.

Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Buy today for Book
1 May 2017 MHTHY - Walks with Thomas Hardy - Lulworth Lodge 4 £459.00 £439.00 Offer - £20 off pp Book Now
7 Aug 2017 MHTHY - Walks with Thomas Hardy - Lulworth Lodge 4 £499.00 £439.00 Offer - £60 off pp Book Now

Prices are per person


  • Standard single room: (2016) £8 per night; (2017) no supplement
  • Premium single room: £15 per night (2017 only)
  • Premium twin/double room: (2016) £5 per person per night; (2017) £10 per person per night
  • Non-member associate fee: (2016) £5 per person; (2017) £10 per person

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