Thomas Hardy Walks at Lulworth Cove
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Meadows & hills
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.
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.
- 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 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
West Lulworth House has a wonderful elevated location just 200 yards from the sea. Its elevated location overlooking Lulworth Cove allows spectacular views from many of the rooms, the garden and the outdoor swimming pool. The house has undergone major investment with the completion of a new lounge and dining room
We have 20 newly refurbished bedrooms at West Lulworth House, many with wonderful views down to the sea.
Choose your room
• Check-in from 2:30pm
• Comfortable accommodation
• En-suite bathroom with bath or shower
• Tea and coffee-making facilities
• Single rooms are available at no extra charge
• Check-in from 1:30pm
• Enjoy extra space or exceptional views
• Toweling robe, complimentary slippers
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Available from an extra £10 per person per night
• Check-in from 2:30pm
• 3 or 4 beds
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Full sized twin or double beds for adults and bunk or occasional beds for children
|• Excellent boot and drying rooms
• Recently extended
• New lounge and dining room opening up onto a terrace with views over the cove
• Free WiFi is available in the public rooms
|• South-facing garden
• Outdoor swimming pool (Open in summer)
• Complimentary parking for guests is available in the public car park opposite the house
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
This itinerary may be subject to change, depending on walking conditions during the week.
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 (14½km)
The cost of all transport to and from the walks is included in your holiday price.
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:
The 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
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
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
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
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 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.
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
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
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
Travel to Lulworth Cove
Our address is: West Lulworth House, Lulworth Cove, Dorset BH20 5RJ
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).
The 5 mile journey from Wool railway station takes approximately 10 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £13 per taxi. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the West Lulworth House Manager.
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, there is a slip road on your left to West Lulworth House. Park on the slip road if you would like to take advantage of our bag drop off service, which is available from 10am to 6.30pm, on arrival and departure days. You can then continue to the public car park at the end of the slip road to park your car. This car park is free for HF Holidays’ guests. Pick up a parking permit from West Lulworth House.
Travelling from overseas
If you're travelling from Europe the most convenient airport is at Southampton. From Southampton Airport Parkway station (adjacent to the airport terminal) there are direct trains every hour to Wool - journey time 1hr 20mins. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for details.
For most guests, travelling to either London Heathrow or London Gatwick airport is the best option. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for onward connections by train to Wool.
Dates & Prices
|Date||Description||Nights||Brochure price||Buy today for||Book|
|9 Apr 2018||LHTHY - Thomas Hardy Walks - West Lulworth House||4||£475.00||£475.00||Book Now|
|30 Jul 2018||LHTHY - Thomas Hardy Walks - West Lulworth House||4||£515.00||£500.00||Book Now|
Prices are per person
- Premium single room: £15 per night
- Premium twin/double room: £15 per person per night
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person