Wessex Ancient Kingdom

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Wessex Ancient Kingdom

Trail story from Alison Howell

Wessex is the area where Foot Trails first began. This ancient and beautiful rural part of the South West region was once a Saxon kingdom from where the very idea of England Originates.

Our walks and early explorations here hold a Special place in my heart and memories and I hope that once you have walked them they will hold a special place in your heart too.

I love how this one trip embodies not one but three different counties of South West England. Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset. It offers such variety in the one walking trip.

We take you off the beaten track using our extensive local knowledge. It’s a wonderful way to explore. You’ll encounter the peaceful, the little known and infrequently visited.

Warm regards,


Welcome to Wessex Ancient Kingdom

Wessex Ancient Kingdom is an inn to inn walking trail over 8 or 10 nights.

You’ll spend two nights at up to six different locations through Wessex, an ancient Saxon kingdom and in modern day England comprises Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset.

Walking from village to village is a superb experience enjoying landscapes, rivers, castles, market towns, woodland and hand-picked country inns on the way.

The tour gives a glimpse into the life of old England from Saxon kings to medieval castles. Places on this trail have been featured in films and novels including Thomas Hardy's Tess D'Urbervilles, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Billy Elliott.

With every day its own mini adventure, your walking will be filled with discoveries.


Example Itinerary p5

Walking (the Foot Trails way) p12

Trail Highlights p14

Where you stay p15

What's included p17

Where & getting here p19

Prices & Booking p21


Example daily itinerary..

Everything about your Foot Trail is deliberate, chosen with care and intent for you. Through our deep, local knowledge we custom make your walking trip.

You can choose your preferred dates - start on any day of the week - stay for how long you wish - include rest days - change the daily walk distances.

We have created this example itinerary as an outline for the best Journey Across Cotswolds experience.

Day 1 - Arrive & Relax

Arrive to South Wiltshire and your Foot Trails adventure! Take a little time to settle in and for those that wish take today's short introductory trail to get to know the local area.


Day 2 - Old England

Explore this special corner of countryside, the Saxons named it 'The Knuckle'. It has a wonderful old feel of moss covered thatched and stone cottages. There's tales of royal wives, architects and high fashion, big house style. So much for a small corner of the countryside. Return to the inn on foot.

Day 3 - Follies & Lakes on route to your next inn!

(Luggage transfer included) 'Splendens' was once how this old 18th century estate was called and it certainly still holds true. The mile long lake is quite a sight. From here you make your way to the medieval farm at Tisbury and its ancient Tithe barn. You will arrive at your next inn on foot, time to check in and enjoy the

change of scene

Day 4 - The Medieval Castle

A glimpse into old England with a rare peaceful feel. Stride through charming hamlets with old manor houses and thatched cottages before arriving at two castles. The oldest built in the 14th century, once a magnificent castle was partly destroyed during the English civil war. It stands as quite possibly the most romantic ruin in Southern England. Enjoy some unhurried time here. Return to the inn on foot.


Day 5 - Out on the Chase! & your next inn

(Luggage transfer included) The chalk downs provide a real contrast to the valleys offering some sensational walking. You are surrounded by sweeping views and curving downs where the sheep graze. You will pass through a string of medieval villages, picturesque with their flint cottages and fascinating stories. High on the chase, a former hunting ground of King John, and once notorious for smugglers and poachers. Arrive to your next inn on foot, check in, refresh and enjoy the change of scene.

Day 6 - The humble Dorset cottage

This is the highest part of the Chase and from here you will have sweeping views right through Dorset, on a clear day you can make out the Isle of Wight. It’s the cottages that make this trail, typical of the area, flint, red brick, thatch and some plaster fronted. Ancient churches, babbling chalk streams, tales of smugglers, vampires and strange occurrences! Return to the inn on foot, refresh.


“Foot Trails was extremely easy to work with. We're delighted and hope to do another walk next year”

Susan, USA


Day 7 - A poet’s Inspiration & your next inn

(Luggage transfer included) A trail that gives you a flavour of the beautiful Dorset landscapes and scenes that inspired the writings of English author Thomas Hardy. From the top (optional) the views become 360 degrees, you will feel like you are on top of the world, no other point of land you see will be higher than you, breathtaking sensation as you pick out villages, a derelict church, hamlets and Dorset's curvaceous landscapes.

Day 8 - A Saxon hilltop town

Set out from the doors of the hotel to explore the town of Shaftesbury. Saxon in origins, from the town the views across and over the Cranborne Chase are simply astounding, some of the best in Dorset. Together with the old abbey ruins, the much famed Gold Hill with its cobbled street and cottages and not forgetting the cake shops and cafés!

Day 9 - To the heart of Wessex & your next inn

(Luggage transfer included) Walk to the old market town of Sherborne where you can explore and if you wish to take a walk around the castle, abbey & town. The abbey is world renowned, founded by St Aldhelm in AD 705, the acoustics and ceiling are both incredible. Across the countryside, curving hills and gorgeous views to your next inn. Check in when you arrive and enjoy the pastoral scene.


Day 10 - On a Knights quest!

Step out on your trail from the door of the inn. Up on the ridge the vistas stretch dreamily for miles across the Yeo valley. An agricultural area. You can explore historic ham stone Somerset villages with their gorgeous cottages and wander inside the rare 13th century church. At the hill fort of Cadbury the views from the top extend across Somerset to a distant Glastonbury. Is this fort Camelot?

Day 11 - Depart at your leisure

At the end of your Foot Trail it's time for your onward travel, full of memories and tales of your adventures.


Walking… the Foot Trails way

We are passionate about the experience of walking, the sense of journey, and the wellbeing from time spent outside. Wandering the landscape at 2mph allows time to observe the world around us, connect with nature, and to slow down.

We recommend our guests are comfortable with walking 8 miles a day, to make the most of the experience. To us, it's nice to feel like you have done something, the sense of achievement, but not so much that the thought of another day is off putting.

To help you find your way we provide local maps and word directions on our trail cards. They are tried and tested, by our team and Volunteer Trail Guides and produced on tough waterproof paper to withstand the elements.

Learn about history, stories and legends as you walk and take advantage of suggested departure times, recommended lunch stops and other guidance, drawn from our local experience and expertise.


Trail Highlights

* Explore England's only hexagonal castle. The setting for Kevin Costner's film Prince of Thieves, with its wonderful grottos and views.

* Discover havens for nature; places to spot herons, kingfishers, wild flowers and orchids and rare butterflies as well as deer, foxes and hares.

* Taste local produce including Dorset apple cake, Wiltshire ham, local bacon, cider, local ales, cheddar cheese, Somerset brie and more.

* Visit Sherborne, ancient market town with its abbey, independent shops and cafes.

* Tales of the legendary Camelot, was this fort King Arthur's reputed stronghold?

* Admire picturesque English countryside dotted with church towers, villages and breath-taking views.

* Enjoy tales of King John and the mystical goings on 'out on the chase'.

* Visit classic old English villages and places with charming names such as Ebbesbourne Wake and Teffont Evias.


Where you stay... personally chosen

One of the reasons guests choose Foot Trails is for our choice and quality of accommodation.

The country inns and country pubs where you stay are small, personal and friendly with excellent hospitality. Each one is in an English village with comfortable bedrooms and delicious local food and drinks. Centuries old, the buildings provide a relaxing and authentic setting in which you can kick off your boots and eat dinner at the end of an inspiring day on the trail.

On Wessex Ancient Kingdom inn to inn trail you will enjoy a different country inn every two days, giving you the opportunity to explore the locality deeply before moving on. Over 10 nights you would stay at up to 5 different country inns.

On this particular trail you can enjoy a ancient inn which has been established since Medieval times, an 18th century thatched pub in a village with flagstone floors, and a 16th century inn with local food largely sourced from within a 30 mile radius, a 19th century coaching inn at the heart of an old Market inn, to a country inn with dining awards that overlooks the green of the countryside.

You will receive full details of our suggested accommodation with your itinerary when we confirm availability of your trip.


What’s included

* A tailored itinerary to suit you and the season

* Our services in arranging your itinerary

* Our support in preparing for your trip, and on call support during your trip

* Accommodation for 10 nights, bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms

* Country breakfast to set you up each day

* Transport drop off services if required for your itinerary

* Luggage transfers between your country inns

* A comprehensive Walk and Explore box, posted for your arrival & including:

* Local maps with your trails clearly marked (on waterproof paper)

* Innovative trail cards, one for each day, with clear easy to follow directions in word (on waterproof paper)

* Trail cards also include local histories and stories to enjoy and read as you explore

* Suggested departure times so that you don't miss lunch, recommended lunchtime stops at hand picked country pubs or cafes (lunch not included)

* Snacks, nature guide, guest booklet, local information and more


“A lovely combination of quiet, meditative walking, adventure and accomplishment”

Melinda & Scott, USA


Where & getting here

Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset are counties in the South West of England. The modern names for the area which was once called Wessex, a kingdom in Saxon times.

How to get here?

The trail begins in either South Wiltshire or North Dorset depending on the length of your trail.

The nearest train stations for arrivals are either Tisbury (Wiltshire) or Gillingham (Dorset). The journey time by car, about a 2 hour drive from London.

The suggested international airport is London Heathrow which offers an easy transfer to London Paddington and around two hours to the start of the trail. There are also regional airports at Bristol & Southampton. Airport cars often make the most convenient transfer and we can arrange this for you


Start your Foot Trails adventure!

Example Pricing

Everything about a Foot Trail is deliberate, chosen with care and intent for you. Therefore each trip is quoted individually, and will vary from the example pricing below.

An 10 night Wessex Ancient Kingdom trip starts from £1790 per person (based on 2 people sharing a room*).

* Twin (2 x single beds) bedroom options available

* Solo's welcome (solo supplements apply)

* Groups (4+), returning guests, and winter discounts offered

Booking your Foot Trail

If you would like to start your Foot Trails adventure, call us on +44 (0) 1747820626 or email us at Enquire@FootTrails.co.uk

Prior to booking we email confirmation of your itinerary, accommodations and details for your 25% deposit. Payment of your deposit will confirm your booking. Balances are due 8 weeks before arrival. We accept all major credit cards and bank



“I have described it to people as five of the best days in my life. We loved every second of it. Just a great experience, beautifully presented and curated.“

Robin, NY, USA

“I can't express how good the experience was. The team at Foot Trails was great. They listened to what we wanted to do and planned the perfect trip for us.”

You can read more reviews from our guests on our tripadvisor page –www.tripadvisor.com/foottrailsUK

Foot Trails The Welsh Mill Hub Park Hill Drive Frome BA11 2LE +44 (0) 1747820626 Enquire@FootTrails.co.uk
© FootTrails ® ™ 2023. FootTrails is a registeredTrade Mark

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