The Hardy Way was the first long distance path in Great Britain to be linked with the works of a great writer. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) set most of his novels and many poems in Wessex, once an ancient kingdom of southern England. The heart of Hardy's Wessex is Dorset and the Hardy Way is a journey through some of the most unspoilt parts of this beautiful county, extending from the coast then inland to the timeless Cranborne Chase on the Wiltshire border. The Way begins at Hardy's birthplace and its circuit ends over 220 miles later in the nearby Stinsford churchyard where his heart lies buried. En route there is a wealth of interest in history, wildlife, landscape and literature.
The main towns and villages visited in order along the route are as follows: Puddletown, Bere Regis, Wool, Lulworth cove, Kimmeridge, Corfe Castle, Wareham, Sturminster Marshall, Wimborne, Cranborne, Tollard Royal, Shaftsbury, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Hazelbury Bryan, Buckland Newton, Evershot, Beaminster, Bridport, Ferrybridge, Weymouth, Dorchester and Stinsford. There could not be a better way to discover the beauty and tranquility of Dorset than walking all or part of this path in the company of one of England's greatest novelists. We believe the guidebook written by Margaret Marande and updated in 2015 is essential not just to follow the route, but because the many excerpts from Hardy's work provide an extra dimension of enjoyment to discovering Dorset and his magical Wessex.
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