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Accessible Walks - walking routes for parents with young children
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A Thomas Hardy walk

LOCALITY: Dorchester, Dorset
DISTANCE: 2 miles (3.22 km)
FACILITIES: Circular route, Parking, Suitable for wheelchairs, Toilets, Pub, Cafe

GRADIENT: A few ups & downs
TERRAIN: Easy
OS MAP: Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis

Walk description:

From Yeovil drive along the A37 toward Dorchester. When you get there head towards any of the car parks. When you are in the town centre walk up South Street until you get to the top. Here you will see a stone column. This is the Town Pump.

From the Town Pump start to walk back down South Street and you will see the Antelope Walk on your right. The Antelope Hotel was originally an 18th century coaching inn. Sarah Eldridge founder of the Eldridge Pope Brewery took over the hotel in 1833 and brewed beer here. The hotel is also mentioned in Thomas Hardy The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Walk along the Antelope walk, along an uneven paved path. On your left you will see the Old Oak Tearoom. This tearoom is said to be the room used by Judge Jeffreys for his 'Blooby Assize' of 1685. Of 312 rebels tried by Judge Jeffreys for supporting the Duke of Monmouth's attempt to seize the crown, a total of seventy four were executed. Another 175 were transported to the Caribbean as slaves.

Continue walking past the tearoom and you will come to the Tourist information Office. From here cross the road and walk along Princess Street. On your left you will see the old hospital and roman fountain. This is a victorian building that has been converted to apartments. On the corner of Somerleigh Road is a symbolic roman fountain, installed in 2003 near the point where a roman aqueduct brought fresh water.

Contiues walking along until you get to the end of Princess Street. In front of you you will see the entrance to Borough Gardens. Features in this garden includes an ornate victorian clock tower, a bandstand and a fountain.

Walk in the entrance and follow the path around to the left. On your left you will see the fountain. Continue walking around to your left and then walk around to your right to go by the bandstand. Just passed the bandstand turn left and walk towards the clock. Walk past the clock keeping it on your left. At the fork by an exit from the park , go left and walk between the tennis court and bowling green.

You will come to a fork in the path. Turn right and go up a small slope, and this will take you out of the park onto west Walks. Turn right and when you get to the end of the path turn right.

You are now walking along the other side of the bowling green Keep walking until the end of the path and you will come to Cornwall Road. Turn left here. Walk across Western Terrace and continue along Maumbury Road.

When you come to the end of this stretch of the pavements you will see some toilets in front of you. Turn left here down Fairfield Road. You will walk along side a car park. On wednesday the Dorchester market is based here. Walk all the way to the end of this road.

Turn right along Weymouth Avenue. Keep walking until you see the Police Station on your left. Cross over and continue along Weymouth Avenue, until you get to Maumbury Rings.

Maumbury Rings was originally constructed as a Neolithic henge monument at least 4,500 years ago. The Romans made some major changes by lowering the central area and raising the banks to create an amphitheatre capable of holding 10,000 people.Changes were made again during the Civil War when the site
was fortified with cannon by local Parliamentarian forces.

There is a kissing gate here. Smaller wheelchairs and buggies should be able to enter if you wish to. The ground is grass path. Walk straight on until you come to the opening on your right in to the Maumbury rings.

Go out of Maumbury Rings by the same entrance that you went in. Turn right and walk back down Weymouth Avenue. Keep walking and you will see The Thomas Hardy Brewery. This has been the home of Eldridge pope since 1880.

Keep walking down Weymouth Avenue. When you get to the crossing on the corner of Prince of Wales Road, cross over. On your left is another crossing to the other side of South Walk Road. Cross over here and turn left. On your right you will see the Cenotaph and victorian post box, which dates from 1866.

Just past the post box turn right and go along South Street. On your right you will come to Hardye Arcade. Opposite this you can see, at first floor level, Barnes and Hardy Plaques.

Kep walking past Hardye Arcade and you come to the Napper,s Mite. This is now a restaurant, but was originally built as an almshouse by Robert Napper to house ten old men shortly after the fire of 1613. It has a small courtyard with an old clock over the entrance. This is the oldest building in South Street.


Walk by the Napper's Mite and you will come to Barclays Bank. This was the Mayor of Castlebridge House.

Continue up South Steet and you will come back to the Town Pump, where you started the walk.



Additional notes:

The walk takes about one hour and half hours to complete and is wheelchair and buggy friendly.

There are several car parks through out the Town Centre. There are toilets and eating facilities in the Town Centre.

The Walk Map and details are available from the Tourist Information Centre. The leaflet you will require is called Discover Dorchester.


18/08/2008 | Walk posted by cathy nettley

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