An emptional day, dedicated to the memory of Martyn and Hazel Wainwright.

This tour through Dorset takes me through the places of my childhood and stops in the village where I was born, and where my parents lived for 50+ years. The house where I was born was finally sold this year, after my Dad’s passing.

Before getting to that village, Dewlish, we pass through the extraordinary village of Milton Abbas, where the Abbey, with its school and lake has legends all of its own. The cob cottages on the hill are quite a spectacle. They are a little distant from the Abbey and its mansion house (now school), quite intentionally, as Lord Milton had them built in 1780 so that he could remove the previous dwellings that were blocking his view.

At Dewlish I will call in at the graveyard of All Saints, where mum and dad are buried.

Lunch will be at The Oak, Dewlish

Then it is onwards to Dorchester, the county town, where my Dad launched a business, Living Light Design, and where they once owned a shop, The Peal of Gongs.

Just before Dorchester though we unfold the story of two Thomas Hardy, Hardy the author, whose Cottage is just before Dorchester at mile 16.5 and Captain, later Admiral Hardy, the man known for kissing a dying Nelson after Nelson’s last words, either Kiss Me Hardy or Kismet Hardy (Kismet = fate). The author is comemorated in Westminster Abbey, Poet’s Corner, the naval officer in St Paul’s Cathedral. Dorchester offers the celebration of two Hardys/ Hardyes. The former, Thomas, wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge set in the town whilst the family of the latter are the ones that have the school and shopping arcade named after them.

If that isn’t confusing enough, the Dorset poet who is comemorated with a statue outside the church is not Thomas Hardy, but his friend and mentor William Barnes, who wrote in the Dorset Dialect.

Another interest in Dorchester is the Poundbury area, an experimental urban extension of the town. The development is led by the Duchy of Cornwall, and had the keen endorsement of King Charles III when he was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall. Under the direction of its lead architect and planner Léon Krier, its design is based on traditional architecture and New Urbanist philosophy.

Dorchester was also briefly home to The Hanging Judge, Judge Jeffreys, as he carried out The Bloody Assizes across the West Country, hunting down the treasonous supporters of the Duke of Monmouth, and protecting the reign of King Charles II. The fearsome reprobation of Jeffreys saw some horrific public executions in the town.

The day’s route ends in the charming village of Puncknowle, complete with 17th Century Manor.


8am Bryanston School
Milton Abbey
9.45am Milton Abbas (mile 7.5)
11am- 1.30 Dewlish (mile 11.5)
The Piddle Valley
Hardy’s Cottage (off route at mile 17 – Vicki to visit)
3.30 -4.30pm Dorchester (19-21 miles)
Judge Jeffrey’s House
William Barnes’ statue
7pm Puncknowle (30 miles)

Fuel: Lunch at The Oak then later, Blue Vinny Cheese with Dorset Knobs, Dorset Apple Cake