Wednesday 14 September 2016. We set off today from the NT visitor centre on a walk that would take us to the site of Thomas Hardy’s grave and later to his birthplace nearby. The walk across fields at the start was very nice but we had a near-miss with “white van man” on a narrow country road forcing Karen and Josephine to jump into the hedge. Peace was restored as we took our coffee break sat in the graveyard of Stinsford church overlooking Hardy’s grave or at least the final resting place of his heart.
A lovely walk alongside a small stream and across more fields followed before we entered the edge of Puddletown Forest. The path was badly overgrown so we soon diverted onto a nearby road. This was a very odd place and whilst I have no personal experience, it gave the appearance of being a local hotspot for “dogging” or “cottaging” with one strange guy wandering in the undergrowth and cars parked on the roadside.
We were glad to turn off the road and back onto forestry trails, stopping for lunch near Swallet Holes. From here it should have been an easy and short walk back to the car via Hardy’s cottage. However, the forest was a maze of unmarked tracks and I must admit to taking a wrong turn or two. Hardy’s cottage is owned by the NT with admission being limited to pre-booked time slots. I didn’t want to go inside and was quite happy just to take a picture from the garden. The walk was 7 miles with a total ascent of 700ft.