About The Tourist Handbook Wessex

Look out for The Tourist Handbook Wessex when you visit Dorset, Wiltshire or Hampshire. Found in quality accommodation throughout the counties, the Handbook’s luxurious style makes it easily identifiable.

Broken into sections, the Handbook explores the immediate area in which poet and novelist Thomas Hardy grew up, along with other areas from his collection of novels within the fictional region of Hardy’s Wessex, which was based on the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex.

Whilst providing essential tourism information, the Handbook also offers an insight to some of the lesser-known facts and history associated each destination, making it much more enjoyable reading.

Areas covered by the Handbook include:

West Dorset

This is true Hardy country. The landscape of West Dorset is what everyone imagines Hardy’s Wessex to be. Green and hilly with twisted deserted lanes and villages, with evocative names such as Emminster, Casterbridge and Budmouth.

A visit to this part of Dorset takes you to many of these towns and villages, where you will find settings little changed from the days of Hardy’s great novels. Inland, much of the county remains rural with market towns and picture postcard villages never far away from many interesting country houses, gardens and visitor attractions.

South Dorset

The area covered in this section boasts some of the finest coastal scenery in the country and also includes one of our great remaining forests. Bustling seaside towns in the south, quiet woods and country lanes in the north, tranquil rivers and wave-lashed rocky headlands – truly an area where there is something for the whole family to enjoy, whether you are energetic or idle!

Rural Dorset & South Wiltshire

To the west of the New Forest lies the market town of Ringwood, now bypassed and once more a pleasant place to stroll and shop or eat at one of the many pubs or restaurants. There is a fine church at Ringwood but lovers of ecclesiastical architecture should head southwest from the town to seek out Wimborne where the old town huddles around the Minster. A very unusual building, this, built in a chequer work of brown and grey stones, it is a complete mixture of styles from Norman up to the 15th century.

Not as well known as the New Forest, Cranborne Chase is recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty, a country of high chalkland with an expansive landscape. It is exceptionally fine country for walking, riding or picnicking. Formerly a Royal Hunting Forest, the deer remain and can often be seen grazing at the edge of the stands of hazel coppice which are a feature of this beautiful area.


From the creeks and harbours of the Solent in the south to the bustling modern town of Basingstoke in the north, this is truly an area of contrasts. Winding country lanes carry you peacefully from hamlet to hamlet while the two motorways mean that every part is quickly accessible. You’ll find fine trout fishing and vineyards producing excellent wine.