Thomas Hardy’s world-famous Victorian novels and poems were shaped by the stunning Wessex landscapes. Now volunteers from the Ramblers are encouraging people to explore and discover them: they have created new walking routes as part of a major exhibition, Hardy’s Wessex, which opens on 28 May.
The exhibition will run at Dorset Museum (Dorchester), Poole Museum, The Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum (Devizes) and has been organised by Wessex Museums. Visitors will be able to discover 11 new walking routes – all specially created by volunteers from the Ramblers who know and love walking in the Wessex area. The routes can be accessed by scanning special QR codes on materials accompanying the exhibition. It will be the largest collection of Thomas Hardy objects ever displayed at one time, and will bring to life the rural, coastal, urban and ancient landscapes that are such a key part of well-loved Hardy works like Far from the Madding Crowd, Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
Walking in Thomas Hardy’s footsteps
The 11 walking routes range from one to six miles in length. Available as part of the Ramblers Routes online collection of nearly 4,000 walks around Britain, they include:
- a step-free stroll around Salisbury – the Melchester of Hardy’s novels
- a walkabout in Thornecombe Wood where he was born and grew up
- the chance to follow the beautiful River Avon out to Old Sarum
- an exploration of the links between the writer and the town of Devizes
Rebecca Birrane, Operations Manager for the Ramblers said: “We want everyone to enjoy the simple pleasures of walking and Thomas Hardy’s writings are certainly a great inspiration to explore all that the Wessex area has to offer walkers. Thanks to volunteers from the Ramblers, we're delighted to be able to share this new set of walking routes alongside the Hardy’s Wessex exhibition.”
Harriet Still, curator of the Hardy’s Wessex exhibition said: “The Ramblers are recognised for inspiring people to get out and about and explore our landscapes, something that Hardy was passionate about too. Hardy described Wessex as a ‘partly dream, party real’ landscape, so it’s fitting that these walks highlight fictional connections as well as the history, wildlife and landforms of each place.”
Visit Hardy's Wessex (28 May - 30 October 2022)
Find out more about our online Ramblers Routes collection.