Hiking Thomas Hardy Country and Spectacular Coastal Trails with Skye McDonald and Donna Goodman

Overview

Hike the idyllic pastoral countryside that inspired Thomas Hardy’s famed novels, walk the stunning trails of the “Jurassic” Coast, recognized as a World Heritage Site for its fossil-rich cliffs, then take a step back in time in the sun-splashed Channel Islands, with their unique mix of Gallic and British charm. Our new WT Expedition with Trip Leader Skye McDonald starts with a treat—a magical sunset over Stonehenge—then brings us to Dorset (Thomas Hardy’s fictional “Wessex”) to walk in some of England’s most cherished literary landscapes, and to Dorset’s World Heritage-listed Jurassic Coast, where we hike the South West Coast Path, one of the most spectacular trails in the world. We are then transported to another world: the far-flung Channel Islands, closer to France than Britain, where we hike pristine trails on Guernsey, Herm, Sark, and Jersey, meet the locals, soak up the Anglo-Norman heritage, and learn about the archipelago’s intriguing history, which includes German occupation during World War II. Locally sourced food and ales will be on the menus as we explore, and our accommodations, including a 13th century coaching inn and a 16th century farmhouse, are as unique as the journey itself. Join us!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
Salisbury / Stonehenge / Thomas Hardy Country / Jurassic Coast

Watch the setting sun paint the majestic stone monoliths of Stonehenge, climb to the top of Salisbury’s exquisite cathedral, then hike in the sublime pastoral landscapes of Thomas Hardy Country amid gold-stoned cottages, fields of sheep, and ancient forests. One hike is along the stupendous cliffs of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, where fossil-hunters have unearthed specimens dating back 185 million years. Our hotel is in the picturesque village of Evershot, little changed since Hardy’s time.

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Days 5-7
Guernsey, Channel Islands / Herm Island

A ferry ride brings us to the Channel Islands, just 27 miles off the Normandy Coast of France. Our walks and hikes reveal Guernsey’s quaint villages, white-sand beaches, turquoise bays, and a profusion of gardens nourished by plentiful sunshine and a Mediterranean climate. On tiny Herm Island, we hike coastal paths and look for puffins and other seabirds, with views stretching to France, Sark Island, and Guernsey.

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Days 8-9
Sark Island / Little Sark

The serene little gem of car-free Sark Island has the proud status of the world’s first “Dark Sky Island” for its exceptional night skies, perfect for stargazing. We’ll visit the dark sky observatory here and hike to craggy headland called L’Eperquerie Common, site of a ruined 16th century fort.

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Days 10-13
Jersey Island

Jersey was occupied for five years by the Germans during World War II, and we’ll visit the Jersey War Tunnels to understand the dramatic wartime situation of the islanders. Our hikes bring us down quiet country lanes, through woodlands, and to St. Catherine’s Bay, where fabulous Mont Orgueil Castle dominates the views. We’ll also visit the mysterious dolmen of Hougue Bie, a 6,000-year-old Neolithic site. Depart on Day 13

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Highlights

Highlights

Experience Stonehenge at sunset, explore medieval Salisbury
Walk the stunning trails of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site
Explore and hike in Thomas Hardy Country, one of England’s cherished literary landscapes
Hike the best trails in the Channel Islands (Guernsey, Herm, Sark, and Jersey), with their rich history and pristine landscapes
Overnights in historic hotels of character, including a 13th century coaching inn

Details

Length: 13 days
Cost From: $6495  
Arrive: Salisbury, England
Depart: Rozel Bay, Jersey Island
Lodging: 12 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 2 lunches and 1 dinner (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

A mix of easy to moderate day hikes, cultural exploration and walking tours