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Dorchester Town Trail

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Dorchester Town Trail
Author: RichardJ, Published: 05 Jul 2011 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Walk Type: Town or city
Dorchester Town Trail
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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This 2 mile walk around Dorchester starts at the monument known as the Town Pump in South Street and takes in some of Dorchester's points of interest including The Thomas Hardy Brewery and the Maumbury Rings. The walk follows footpaths around the town and apart from needing to take care of traffic on some busy roads the walk is very easy and provides a few places to stop off on the way including the Borough Park.

The county town of Dorset, Dorchester, is an historic market town that lies on the banks of the River Frome just south of the Dorset Downs and north of the South Dorset Ridgeway that separates the area from Weymouth. Dorchester's roots stem back to prehistoric times. Settlements were first based around Maiden Castle, a large Iron Age hill fort. The Romans built a wall around the town and the remains can still be seen today.

Local author and poet Thomas Hardy based the fictional town of Casterbridge on Dorchester. Hardy's childhood home is to the east of the town, and his house in town, Max Gate, is owned by the National Trust and open to the public.

Pay and display parking is available in several car parks within Dorchester. One option is the Top of Town pay and display car park which is on the corner of Bridport Road (B3150) and The Grove (B3147) in Dorchester.

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Walk Sections

The Town Pump to the Borough Gardens
The Town Pump to the Borough Gardens

Start point: 50.7152 lat, -2.4367 long
End point: 50.7142 lat, -2.4411 long

Make your way to the the Town Pump which is a central point in Dorchester - located next to Dorchesters Corn Exchange and the impressive clock tower on South Street (pedestrians only) at the junction with High East Street. Head along South Street away from the pump obelisk and look for a small arched path way to the right called Antelope Walk. Turn right here. There is a Tourist Information Centre in the Walk and also the Old Oak Room which is reputed to be the room where Judge Jeffreys held his infamous Bloody Assize of 1685 of the 312 rebels who supported the Duke of Monmouths attempt to seize the crown.

Cross the road at the end of the Walk and go straight along Princes Street. Half way along on the left you will see the old hospital, a Victorian building now converted into flats, and the mock Roman fountain erected in 2003 near where a Roman aqueduct brought water into the town. At the end of Princes Street look for some red gates on the left that lead into the Borough Gardens.

Through the Park
Through the Park

Start point: 50.7142 lat, -2.4411 long
End point: 50.7085 lat, -2.4398 long

Go through the gates and enter the gardens. Take the left hand path and keep left of the children’s playground. On the right you may also notice a small outdoor gym. Walk around and past the band stand and head for the clock tower, ahead on the right. Walk past the tower which was built in 1905 and head for a small red gate that leads out of the park onto Cornwall Road. Turn left and walk towards the junction. Cross this junction and head along Maumbury Road until you reach Fairfield Road on the left. Turn left here with the long stay car park on your right. Look for the Fairfield Market on your left which has been held here since the 19th Century. At the end of the road turn right and walk along Weymouth Avenue with the car park and later a skateboard park on you right.

Just after the police station on your left you will see the metal gate leading into Maumbury Rings.

Maumbury Rings to the Bewery
Maumbury Rings to the Bewery

Start point: 50.7085 lat, -2.4398 long
End point: 50.7104 lat, -2.4388 long

Go through the gate and walk to the left where there is an information board and the entrance into the amphitheatre. The site was originally constructed as a Neolithic henge some 4,500 years ago. The Romans then turned the site into an amphitheatre by lowering the centre and raising the banks. During the Civil War the Parliamentarians fortified the site with cannons. Today outdoor performances once again take place here.

Leave the site through the same gate and head back down Weymouth Avenue past the police station back towards the towards the town. You will shortly pass the imposing brick built buildings of the Thomas Hardy Brewery of Eldridge Pope on the right.

Past the Pillar Box to the Almshouses
Past the Pillar Box to the Almshouses

Start point: 50.7104 lat, -2.4388 long
End point: 50.7134 lat, -2.4369 long

Carry on down the road towards the junction. You want to go straight ahead where you will see a Cenotaph on the other side of the road. To do so turn right and then left crossing two roads with traffic light crossings. When you reach the other side look for the red Victorian pillar box designed by Penfold in 1866, the first penny black stamp was designed in 1840. The adjacent Portland stone Cenotaph was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and unveiled in 1921.

Carry on down South Street and when you reach the Hardye Arcade on the right look on the opposite side of the road where you will see the Barnes and Hardy plaques on the wall. Further down the road on the right is the Nappers Mite which is now a restaurant. This was built as almshouses by Sir Robert Napper shortly after the Dorchester great fire of 1613.

The Mayor of Casterbridge House
The Mayor of Casterbridge House

Start point: 50.7134 lat, -2.4369 long
End point: 50.715 lat, -2.4367 long

Last of all on this trail around the town is The Mayor of Casterbridge's house, marked with a plaque, which is currently a branch of Barclays Bank on the right hand side of South Street.

Carry on down the street until you arrive back at the the Town Pump.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2011 by the author Richard and may not be reproduced without permission.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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1 gallery images for "Dorchester Town Trail"

172_0Richard1314993330 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: RichardJ
Uploaded: 02 Sep 2011
Sign post as you walk into Dorchester about half way around the walk


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