Wessex Ancient Kingdom

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Wessex Ancient Kingdom

Wiltshire, Dorset & Somerset

Independent (self-guided) walking holiday

Inn to Inn / Village to Village

“Greatwalks,staffveryhelpful andaccommodatingtoour wishes.Innswerecomfortable andfoodwasexcellent. Hada wonderfultime!“


Welcome & trail Story

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


About Wessex Ancient Kingdom

Wessex Ancient Kingdom is an inn to inn style walk, giving you a real sense of journey. 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. This trail can be enjoyed as an 8 or 10 night itinerary. 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.

Read on for a pick of the highlights.

Our pick of the highlights p6

Where & getting here? p8

Sample daily itinerary p9 to p16

Where you stay p18

Details & prices p20

Booking you trail p22


Our pick of the 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 & 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.


Sample daily itinerary...

We have created this suggested itinerary as an outline for the optimum 10 night Wessex journey. You will find the mileages & prices for this itinerary in the ‘Trail details & prices’.

Custom Itinerary Service

If the suggested itinerary; lengths of stay, arrival day, daily mileages are not right for your plans, we can customise an itinerary to you. You can choose your preferred dates - start on any day of the week - stay for how long you wish - include rest dayschange the daily walk distances.

Day 1 - Arrive and 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 wonderful 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.

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.

Walks / hikes lengths?

Our approach to walking is very much about enjoyment, something achieved but not too much that you are not excited to do it again! When we put together the trails we plan them with a day out in mind, so 2 to 3 hours walking in the morning, a nice place to pause for lunch such as a pub or cafe. Then a couple of hours walk in the afternoon.


Where you stay personally chosen

Where you stay is a key part of your Foot Trail & experience. 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 to enjoy with dinner after your walk.

Alison, Foot Trails founder, chooses each inn personally. Centuries old, each building provides 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 and website addresses of our suggested accommodation with your itinerary when we confirm availability of your trip.


Trail detail & prices

Details for the sample itinerary

Best start day: Wednesday, staying for 10 nights

Daily miles: 4.5 – 10 (or 7.5) – 9 – 9.5 (or 6.5) – 11 (or 8) – 10.5 (or 9) – 8.5 – 2 – 8.5 – 8.5 - depart

Grade: Easy to moderate, walking with some ascents & descents

Arrival train station: Tisbury, Wiltshire

May to September: Standard - £1880 p/p // Superior - £2360 p/p

April & October: Standard - £1790 p/p // Superior - £2250 p/p

Winter: Standard - £1530 p/p // Superior - £1890 p/p

Prices based on 2 persons sharing a bedroom. Twin (2 x single beds) bedroom options available. Solo's welcome (solo supplements apply). 8 night trails start from £1490 p/p.

Group discounts (4+) and returning guests thank you discounts offered.

Customise your itinerary

If the itinerary featured, lengths of stay, arrival day, daily mileages are not right for your plans, we can customise an itinerary to you. You can choose your preferred dates - start on any day of the week - stay for how long you wish - include rest dayschange the daily walk distances. Prices for custom itineraries are quoted per trip and will vary from the prices quoted above.


What is included?

* Our services in arranging your itinerary

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

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

* Country breakfast to set you up each day

* 10 days of independent walking with a tailored itinerary to suit you and the season

* Transport drop off services if required for your itinerary

* Luggage transfers between your country inns

* A comprehensive Walk and Explore box, posted to your home address)


* Local maps with your trails clearly marked (on our fully 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)

• Foot Trail’s famous fortifying sweets, nature guide, guest booklet, local information and more

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Booking your trail

If you would like help choosing the best trail for you then call us on +44 (0) 1747 820626 or email us at Enquire@FootTrails.co.uk. We plan, write and create all our own walking trails and are here to offer you our expert advice.

If the trails featured, arrival days or lengths of stay are not right for you, you can choose your preferred dates and start on any day of the week. We will create a custom itinerary for you based on your preferences. Prices for custom trips are quoted per trip and vary from the prices quoted in the brochure.

You can make your booking by calling us on +44 (0) 1747 820626 or if you prefer you can email us at Enquire@FootTrails.co.uk.

We will ask you a few details to enable us to make a reservation for you. We will then be able to confirm the availability of your trail. Due to the crafted nature of our trails there may be a day or two's wait while we contact our inns and hosts.

We will email you with confirmation of your itinerary, accommodations and details for your deposit. Payment of your deposit will confirm your booking. Balances are due 8 weeks before arrival. We accept all major credit cards, PayPal and bank transfers.


Words from our guests

“Scenerywasoutstanding,logisticswerewellhandled,foodwasdelicious.itwasthe perfectvacation.Outsideallday,active,andIlovedthatwecouldwalkalldayand neverseeanothersoul.I'malreadystartingtothinkaboutournextFootTrails adventure!”

Jean, USA

“Thefourdaysofwalkingwereterrific.Wedidn'tquiteknowwhattoexpectbutthe informationpackageprovidedwasdetailedandcomprehensive.Thewalkswerewell planned,varied,stimulating,andenjoyable.Webothdecidedthateveryvacation mustincludeawalkingtrip.”

Barbara & Barbara, USA

“Excellent-enjoyable,challenging,relaxingallinone.Awonderfulwalking experience(ourfirsttimedoingawalkinEnglandwithoutaguide,beautifulviews, justtherightlevelofchallengewalkinginpicturesquefields,lanesandvillages).Foot Trail'sorganizationofthetripmadeitaperfectholidayforus.”

Jennifer & Benardo, USA

You can read more reviews from our guests on our tripadvisor page –www.tripadvisor.com/foottrailsUK 21

Why a Foot Trail?

A Foot Trail avoids the formulaic nature, crowds and predictability of mass tourism and focuses instead purely on the quality of your experience. Take a Foot Trail and you will explore deep beneath the surface.

You will walk and hike in real and authentic places. Enjoy real, not manufactured tourism moments. Shared conversations with a local person, the stillness of time spent in beautiful landscapes and the joy of encountering stories and moments from England's past.

Three words describe a Foot Trail perfectly -

Simple - Crafted – Authentic

The press say:

"One of the 7 Adventure Vacations you need to take in your lifetime."

JetSetter.com, 2019

Foot Trails are one of England's best loved regional walking travel companies. We work within our local community, crafting walking experiences from scratch, aiming for a positive outcome for us all.


Bookings & contacts

Call +44 (0) 1747 820 626 with your chosen date, we will then confirm your place for you upon which a 25% deposit per person will be payable. Bank transfers and all major credit & debit cards accepted.

 +44 (0) 1747 820 626 (landline)

 Enquire@FootTrails.co.uk

 www.FootTrails.co.uk



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